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Top FAQs About Pet Poisoning
April 1, 2024

National Animal Poison Prevention Week begins on March 17th this year. This topic is relevant to everyone with pets. Poisoning is one of the most common reasons for emergency visits. The statistics on this are extremely sobering: Over 401,500 incidents of pet poisoning are recorded annually in the US alone. In this article, a local Gaithersburg, MD veterinarian provides information and recommendations on how to keep your animal companion safe.

What Are the Warning Signs of Poisoning in Pets?

The specific symptoms will vary based on the type and quantity of poison consumed. However, there are some general ones to be aware of.

Some of these include the following.

  • Coughing 
  • Drooling
  • Seizure
  • Twitching
  • Wobbling
  • Staggering
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack Of Appetite
  • Respiratory issues
  • Fever
  • Thirst
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Collapse
  • Shock
  • Coma
  • Weakness
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive Urine

Behavioral changes can also be a red flag. When cats are not feeling well, they often withdraw. Dogs may also appear sad. Grumpiness can also be a warning sign in some pets. 

Keep in mind that these items can be signs of a wide range of problems. If you detect anything wrong, contact your Gaithersburg, MD veterinarian straight away.

Are Essential Oils Toxic To Pets?

Many people include aromatherapy into their health and wellness regimes. Pets can also benefit, but exercise caution here. Many of these oils are highly concentrated, which makes them potentially harmful. Cats are especially vulnerable here, since they are highly sensitive to toxins. Keep all essential oils away from your pet. 

Here are some of the most toxic ones:

  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang Pine
  • Cinnamon
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Citrus oils
  • Sweet Birch Clove
  • Anise
  • Wintergreen
  • Juniper

Which Foods Are Poisonous To Pets?

Many of the things we like are harmful to Fido and Fluffy! The list contains the following:

  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Currants
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Chives
  • Many nuts, including macadamia nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Junk Food 
  • Anything containing Xylitol (Birch Sugar).
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Ask your Gaithersburg, MD veterinarian for further information.

What Common Home Products Are Toxic to Dogs and Cats?

The number of everyday household products that can be dangerous to your furry friend may surprise you. As a rule of thumb, consider anything that would be unsafe for a toddler to be a hazard for your four-legged friend. 

Here’s a short list:

Pesticides: Bug spray, rodenticides, mouse and rat bait: anything designed to kill insects will be harmful to your furry friend. Many rodenticides contain warfarin, an anticoagulant. This may cause severe—and perhaps fatal—internal bleeding if consumed.

Flea and tick treatments are also on the list. They are of course completely safe when used as directed. However, doubling up or administering an incorrect amount could put your pet at risk of poisoning.

Medication: We advise taking great care to keep medications out of reach of pets. Some of the most harmful include aspirin, acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. Store both over-the-counter and prescription medications away from Fido and Fluffy.

Lawn and Garden Products: These are especially concerning because pets might easily ingest them. All Fido and Fluffy need to do is walk through a recently-treated spot and then lick their paws or fur. Slug or snail bait is particularly concerning, as it is very toxic but, unfortunately, sometimes appealing to dogs. The problem here is a chemical called metaldehyde, which is found in numerous brands. Ingestion, unfortunately, can prove fatal.

Any fertilizer, fungicide, weed killer, or herbicide is also hazardous. Keep pets away from recently-treated spots. It will also help to thoroughly soak areas after applications, to ensure that the chemicals leach into the ground.

Cleaning Agents: All and any household cleaning solutions should be considered harmful to pets. Bleach, disinfectants, furniture polish and oil, detergent, drain openers, mold killers, and other products fall under this category.

Auto Products: Antifreeze is one of the most hazardous substances for Fluffy and Fido. Many products have a flavor that pets enjoy. Choose a pet-safe brand. (It is still not safe for pets, but it is at least much less appealing to them.) Gasoline, oil, lubricants, paint, cleansers, and wiper fluid are additional risks. 

Keep your furry friend away from spots where you have used chemicals or placed rodenticides or pesticides, and immediately clean up any spilled antifreeze or chemicals. You can put sand or kitty litter down on antifreeze and oil spills.

Which Plants Are Poisonous to Pets?

Many pets enjoy nibbling on plants. That can be cute, but it’s also very dangerous. 

The complete list of hazardous plants is too large to print here, so we’ll focus on some of the most prevalent ones. Lilies are some of the most dangerous ones for kitties. They can be lethal to our feline pals, even in minimal dosages. Fluffy merely needs to nibble on a leaf or drink a small amount of water to become ill. Fido is particularly vulnerable to Sago palms.

Here are a few of the toxic ones:

  • Rhododendron
  • Crocus Cyclamen
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Ivy
  • Sago Palm
  • Foxglove
  • Lilies
  • Common daisy
  • Irises
  • Peonies 
  • Tulips
  • Daffodils
  • Hyacinth
  • Oleander
  • Amaryllis
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Azalea
  • Hydrangea
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Holly

As a general rule, anything that has a bulb is dangerous. This includes tulips, daffodils, onions, and garlic. The ASPCA website contains further information regarding safe and dangerous plants here.

Keep in mind that even non-toxic plants can be hazardous. Roses, for example, have sharp thorns that can cause serious internal injuries if consumed. Ask your vet for further information.

Are Salt Lamps Dangerous for Pets?

Believe it or not, they are! Some animals relish the taste of salt. Fluffy and Fido may obsessively lick the lamp, putting them at risk of salt poisoning. That doesn’t mean you can’t have one; just place it somewhere that your animal companion isn’t able to get to.

Are Poison Concerns The Same For Dogs And Cats?

Yes and no. In most cases, something that is listed as toxic will be hazardous to both of them. However, Fido and Fluffy have opposing inclinations and behaviors. 

Cats may be more susceptible to illness as a result of spilled substances or from something just coming into contact with their fur. Fluffy has incredibly delicate skin, and can absorb things very easily. She is also meticulous about grooming herself, so is in more danger of licking something off. However, this is still a risk for dogs: Fido can easily lick harmful substances off his paws.

Another difference? Our canine companions will eat or chew almost anything. Some dogs outgrow this once they’ve finished teething, but others are ardent chewers far into adulthood.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Pet Has Been Poisoned?

This is definitely not a ‘wait and see’ situation. It’s very important to act quickly; your furry friend’s life might depend on it.

The first thing you should do is contact your veterinarian. If it’s after hours, contact an emergency clinic. You could also call a pet poison hotline. There are various options: the ASPCA’s number is (888) 426-4435. (Note: charges may apply.) Fido or Fluffy will require emergency veterinary care, but it is best if you contact the clinic beforehand so that they can prepare. In a life-threatening situation, every minute counts!

You may also be instructed to offer first aid, such as hydrogen peroxide. Follow the instructions exactly, and do not administer anything unless advised to do so by your veterinarian or a poison helpline worker. Sometimes doing the wrong thing can be worse than doing nothing.

Contact Your Gaithersburg, MD Animal Clinic

Do you have any concerns regarding your pet’s health, safety, or care? We are always delighted to help! Please call us, your local Gaithersburg, MD animal clinic, today!