Animal Poisons

GRAPES & RAISINS: Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In animals who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.

ONIONS & GARLIC: They contain disulfides, sulfur compounds that can cause gastrointestinal irritation to animals and harm their red blood cells. “One year at Passover time, I treated a dog with severe anemia,” recalls Dr. Hohenhaus. “It turned out she’d eaten too much of Grandma’s chopped liver, which was loaded with onions and garlic.”  

AVOCADO: The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs/cats. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.

YEAST DOUGH: Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your animal’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture.

MILK: Because dogs and cats do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset. The only exceptions are colostrums, which is food, and butter, which is fat.

CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, CAFFEINE: These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by animals, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.

XYLITOL: a sugar substitute, is now known to react as a poison. The study indicated that a 22-pound dog that ingests just a gram of Xylitol will die without treatment.  A dog that has eaten an item containing Xylitol can be rapidly hit by a dangerous drop in blood sugar that causes weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse, and seizures. Those symptoms can develop within 30 minutes, and a dog so afflicted will need immediate veterinary treatment to survive. Without help irreversible brain trauma occurs, and the patient dies. 

NUTS: For example:  Dogs have become dramatically ill from ingesting just a handful of Macadamia nuts. Nuts contain unknown toxins that can upset your animal’s digestive tract and muscles, setting off severe weakness, even paralysis, vomiting, and diarrhea. The only good news about nuts in general is that virtually all dogs recover within 48 hours of ingestion whether or not they are treated by a vet.  It is still not worth the risk to feed nuts.  Even if the ones they are eating are not poisonous to them, all nuts still are extremely difficult to digest for carnivores...if they can digest them at all. 

ALCOHOL: All alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

TRASH: Don’t let your dogs and cats get into the trash. There can be all kinds of foods, bones, cleaning products, an endless number of items that can cause serious harm, and may even be fatal.

LIQUID POTOURRI: Cats and dogs have been known to be badly burned while lapping up hot oils and detergents, damaging the animal’s mouth, throat, and/or gastrointestinal tract. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has seen 330 such cases since 2001...most of them involving cats.

MEDICATIONS: Most animal guardians would not ever leave an open container of medications lying around; however, dogs have been known to open containers by knocking them around or crushing even childproof containers.

FLOWERING PLANTS: The ASPCA receives dozens of calls each spring from animal guardians that their cats ate a lily. “Ingesting even very small amounts can result in kidney damage,” says Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, chair of the department of medicine at the Animal Medical Center in New York City.

Dogs and cats can also get sick from eating azalea, oleander, or rhododendron, to name a few which can lead to vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness, depression of the central nervous system, and, in rare cases, can be fatal.

POLYURETHANE GLUE: You might never even think that glue would attract your dog, but the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports a 309 percent increase in glue-related incidents since 2002. “Dogs see a bottle lying on the floor and think it’s a toy,” explains Dr. Hanson. Glue, he says, is bad news. “When swallowed, it goes to the stomach, absorbs moisture, and expands to form a large rock-like mass.”

PENNIES: While an animal can choke on any coin, pennies are particularly dangerous because they are made with zinc, which is toxic to animals. When a penny sits in an animal’s stomach, the zinc leaches out into the red blood cells, resulting in severe anemia and kidney problems. The newer the penny, the more likely it is to be deadly. That’s because pennies minted after 1982 are 99.2 percent zinc; those minted earlier are only 5 percent zinc.

PINE-OIL CLEANERS: Any cleaning product name ending in …sol is a poison to animals…especially cats. The phenol in these products can cause serious liver damage. Just licking the residue off of their paws can be sufficient to cause kidney damage.

ANTIFREEZE: Every year, by some estimates, about 10,000 dogs and cats are victims of accidental poisoning by automobile antifreeze. The sweet taste of antifreeze attracts animals, but less than a teaspoonful can be fatal. Antifreeze containers that are not tightly sealed or discarded carelessly, spills along the road, and leaks on driveways can pose a threat to animals. Dogs are known to chew through containers to get at antifreeze.

COCOA SHELL GARDEN MULCH: Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's; it contains theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline; the same as any chocolate substance, which is lethal to dogs and cats.  It smells like chocolate; thus attracts dogs.   Several deaths have already occurred after developing severe convulsions.

SWIFFER WETJET:  Check the label.  In very small print there’s a warning which states: “May be harmful to small children and animals.” This cleaning agent is just one molecule away from antifreeze.  Just by a cat or dog walking on the floor, and then licking their paws, it is enough to cause liver failure. 

Contact me immediately if your animals have ingested any of the above, and let me know what symptoms you are seeing.  775-313-5884.

Remedies to have on hand in case of poisoning are:  Arsenicum album 30C, Nux vomica 30C,  Podophyllum 30C, Pulsatilla 30C, Hyland’s Upset Stomach.

For free nutrition information and advice, email Pat McKay