Pet toxins can lurk in numerous places in and around your home, and if your furry pal chews or ingests these poisons, they could potentially experience a life-threatening emergency. To help protect your pet from possible poisoning, read our Bayview Animal Hospital team’s guide to your home’s most common pet toxin hiding places.
#1: Pet toxins hide in your kitchen
Check the ingredients label before sharing your snack with your four-legged friend. Many foods intended for people are toxic to pets. Your pet can experience toxicity if they ingest these common foods:
- Chocolate — Containing theobromine and caffeine, this delectable treat overstimulates your pet’s central nervous and cardiovascular systems, resulting in signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive panting, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, and seizures. The darker the chocolate the more dangerous to pets.
- Grapes — Grapes, raisins, and currants can cause your pet kidney failure. The exact cause is unknown, but a recent theory suggests that tartaric acid (i.e., cream of tartar) may be the culprit. The most common early toxicity sign is vomiting, and decreased appetite, lethargy, and diarrhea can occur about 12 to 24 hours after a pet ingests grapes, raisins, or currants.
- Onions — Vegetables, including onions, garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks, in the Allium family contain organosulfides that are converted to sulfur-containing organic compounds when chewed. These compounds cause oxidative damage to your pet’s red blood cells, causing anemia. Vomiting may occur initially, but anemia signs, such as weakness, pale mucous membranes, and bloody urine, typically take several days to manifest.
- Macadamia nuts — All nuts are high in fact and can cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset or lead to pancreatitis, but macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin that causes pets to experience weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia.
#2: Pet toxins hide in your medicine cabinet
Ensure you prevent your pet from accessing all prescription and other-the-counter (OTC) medications in your home. Many medications intended for people are toxic to pets, including:
- Antidepressants — Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, affect the brain’s neurotransmitters. While sometimes used in veterinary medicine, if administered incorrectly, these drugs can cause your pet to experience signs such as hyperactivity, sedation, hyperthermia, cardiac arrhythmias, muscle tremors, and seizures.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications — Stimulant medications prescribed for people affected by ADHD can cause your pet signs such as agitation, vocalization, hyperactivity, increased heart and blood pressure rates, hyperthermia, and seizures.
- Blood pressure medications — Blood pressure medications, such as calcium channel blockers and angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors (ACE) inhibitors, can lead to signs such as dangerously low heart and blood pressure rates, weakness, and collapse.
- Sleep aids — Medications designed to help you sleep can have varying effects on pets. Some cause lethargy, incoordination, and slowed respiration rates, while others lead to severe agitation.
#3: Pet toxins hide in your handbag
You may be surprised to learn that you carry potential pet toxins in your handbag. Always keep your purse out of your pet’s reach to prevent them from potentially nosing in to gobble down the following toxins:
- Ibuprofen — Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that many people keep handy to treat headaches and other discomforts. If your pet ingests this drug, they can develop GI upset and ulceration, and kidney failure. NSAID ingestion signs include vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, increased thirst and urination, and dark, tarry feces.
- Acetaminophen — This is another common pain medication intended for people, and if your pet ingests this drug, they can experience severe liver failure. Cats are especially susceptible to acetaminophen toxicity, and their signs may include inappetence, lethargy, excessive salivation, vomiting, and respiratory difficulty.
- Xylitol — This artificial sweetener is commonly found in sugar-free gums and candies, and if your pet ingests an item that includes this ingredient, they can develop hypoglycemia or liver failure. Hypoglycemia typically develops within about six hours after ingestion, and signs include depression, incoordination, collapse, and seizures. Liver failure usually develops within 12 to 48 hours, and signs include vomiting, lethargy, and inappetence.
#4: Pet toxins hide in your garage
Your home’s garage likely houses extremely poisonous chemicals. Although your pet may enjoy investigating nooks and crannies, keep them out of your garage, in which many toxins lurk:
- Antifreeze — Many antifreeze products contain ethylene glycol, which has a sweet flavor that attracts pets. Unfortunately, this ingredient can cause your pet to experience kidney failure. Ethylene glycol ingestion signs include lethargy, vomiting, incoordination, increased thirst and urination, seizures, and coma.
- Rodenticides — The many rodenticides on the market are all extremely dangerous to pets. Rodenticide ingestion signs depend on the product’s active ingredient.
- Ice melt — Ice melts often contain ingredients such as sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride. Ice melt ingestion signs include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and mouth and stomach ulcerations.
#5: Pet toxins hide in your yard
Although plantings make your yard beautiful, they can be toxic to your pet. Always be mindful of plants and flowers you grow in your yard. Pet-toxic plants include:
- Autumn crocus — These pretty flowers contain the toxic alkaloid colchicine. If your pet ingests them, they can exhibit signs such as drooling, vomiting, GI bleeding, bloody diarrhea, respiratory failure, lethargy, and seizures.
- Azaleas — Azaleas and rhododendrons contain grayanotoxins, which disrupt sodium channels affecting a pet’s skeletal and cardiac muscles. Ingestion signs include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, inappetence, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, weakness, seizures, and coma.
- Lilies — True lilies and daylilies are highly toxic to cats. If your cat is exposed to any of these plants’ parts, including the water that drains from roots after watering, they can develop sudden kidney failure. If your dog ingests any part of a lily plant, they can experience GI upset.
- Tulips — Tulips contain allergenic lactones, especially concentrated in the bulbs. If your pet chews or ingests a tulip bulb, they can experience mouth, esophagus, and GI tract irritation. Other tulip ingestion signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your pet ingests a large quantity of tulips, their signs can include increased heart rate and respiratory difficulty.
Help protect your four-legged friend from being poisoned by recognizing where pet toxins lurk in and around your home. If you know or suspect your pet has ingested a toxin, immediately contact our Bayview Animal Hospital team, so we can determine the best treatment course.