Common Poisonings In the Home Environment
Understanding poisonings and toxic compounds can be summarized as follows; Not all products are equally toxic to cats and dogs or humans to the same degree. A toxin is mostly dose related, some require any exposure amount, some small amounts, some larger amounts and can also be specie specific. For example, dogs are much more susceptible to xylitol compared to cats, while cats have a deficiency in breaking down paracetamol (or acetaminophen) and therefore is completely susceptible to the drug.
Onions, garlic and eg avo’s does not always cause immediate harm but over time can accumulate in the body and lead to detrimental disease.
TEARS Vets Advise – the safest action is to avoid all possible toxins and to prevent exposure to the best of your ability.
Lets look at the most common house hold options that can lead to harming our pets.
1. Human prescription medications / OTC Medications
Of the most common toxicities presenting in the ER is accidental consumption of human ADHD medications, antidepressants, heart medications & pain medications (Ibuprofen, paracetomol etc) . Lately we also see many more CBC / THC toxicities. Any form of human medications must be considered detrimental to our pets, that even includes your vitamins.
TEARS Vets advise – ALWAYS keep all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, safely stored inside a medicine cabinet or cupboard or up high where your pet can’t reach them and ask your visitors to do the same. Remind any quests at your home to do the same when visiting.
2. Foods that are toxic to pets (Active toxic ingredient in brackets)
Chocolate (Dark >>>> white) (Theobromine)
Xylitol & – containing products (often found in sugar-free gum, health products, sugar replacments etc)
Macadamia nuts (Unknown)
Grapes, Raisins, Currents & Sultanas (Tartaric Acid)
Caffeinated drinks (Caffeine & Theobromine)
Raw yeast dough (Ethanol / Obstruction)
Raw or undercooked meat (Bacterial eg Salmonella, E.coli)
Onions, Garlic, Chives & Leeks – Allium Family (N-propyl disulfide & thiosulphates)
Apple Seeds (Cyanide)
TEARS Vets advise – Do not feed or offer any of these products to your pets, not even in a small amount.
3. Common foods / other items that can cause complications and death if ingested
Apricot / Peach Pips / Acorns
Cigarettes / – butts
Mushrooms (wild growing)
Sosatie Sticks / Tooth Pick
Strings, Socks, Stockings, Christmas decorations etc
Kids toys / balls
TEARS Vets advise – Always ensure you dispose of these in a secure bin & when you take your dog for a walk, never leave them out of your site or allow them to consume unknown items.
4. Common household Items
Cleaning products (Most detergents, Drain Cleaners, Pool cleaning agents (HTH) etc)
House Renovation products (Paints, Glue, Pool additives etc)
Toilet Water Drop Ins
Anti-freeze (Fatal toxicity)
TEARS vets advise – always ensure any chemical or potentially harmful product is put away safely after use.
5. Garden Supplies (Extremely toxic – can be fatal)
Fertilizers & Insecticides (High Ammonia & bacterial counts, Pyrethroid / Organophosphates)
Rodenticides (Warfarin or Coumarins)
Snail & Slug Bait (Methaldehyde)
TEARS vets advise – Keep your pets away from contact on the day of use, safest to avoid any toxins in the environment and to investigate natural or pet friendly products instead. If any expore to toxins occured, take your pet to the vet immediately.
6. House plants / Flowers
Lilies – are highly toxic and potentially fatal to cats. Some types are also toxic to dogs. All parts of the plant, including the pollen, flower and leaves are poisonous so make sure they are well out of reach.
Other flowers & plants that can also be dangerous if eaten by your pet includes;
– Melia azedarach also known as Syringa berry tree, Chinaberry tree, Persian lilac, seringboom
– Cannabis sativa also know as Cannabis, Indian hemp, marijuana, hashish, dagga
– Solanum spp. Brunfelsia spp. Poison apples, nightshade, yesterday, today and tomorrow
– Encephalartos spp., Cycas revoluta, Macrozamia spp., Zamia spp. known as Cycad palms, broodboom – Can be fatal in dogs
– Nerium oleander (oleander, selonsroos) and Thevetia peruviana (yellow oleander)
– Euphorbia pulcherrima known as Poinsettia
– Other less common ones – Azaleas, Tulips, Daffodils, Oleander, Sago Palm, Carnations, Arum Lilly
For a more detailed list of poisonous plants go to: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants
TEARS vets advise – Do not plant any of these if you have pets or intend to have pets. Do not buy Lillie’s or related plants if you own cats.
7. Non-toxic but cause adverse food reactions in dogs & cats
Most dogs and cats are lactose intolerant and it is best to avoid giving them our cream, ice-cream, milk or yoghurt. It leads to digestion problems. A small lick now and then may not harm but the safest advice remains to avoid this. It is true that all milk lactose levels are not the same, and goats milk for eg maybe tolerated better.
Cheese – Cheeses are very high in fat; offering even a small amount (28g) to a dog or cat, equates to human eating 2-3 hamburgers at the same time. The high fat content could also trigger pancreatitis, a serious condition that can make your pet seriously ill.
Bacon, Chicken Skin, Braai meat fat, biltong etc – Brings us back to a high fat content that may lead to digestion upset & pancreatitis, best to avoid.
Bones – Chicken bones, soup bones, braaivleis bones, fish bones; any of these can lead to either breaking of teeth, obstruction in digestive canal, severe constipation and worse case scenario’s – gut perforation and death. Best to avoid offering your dog or cat any of this.
Tears Vets advise – We dental treats for dogs and cats, which is safe to give, helps to keep the gums & teeth healthy, and provides you with an enjoyable, safe way to spoil your pet. Other options are dog & cat biscuits, or chewable animal products that is produced within the PFI guidelines & Act 36 of 1947 registered.
“Boring is best” – Ensure your animal receives their balanced diets twice daily, and only spoil them with products known to be safe for consumption. Avoid all human foods & scraps off the table.