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Dr. Heather Moeser, MS, DVM & Brittney McLamb NCSU-CVM Vet Student
Downtown Mobile Vet
Did you know that many common household items are potential poisons to your furry children? Below are a list of common small animal poisons that your pets may come contact / ingest while in their environment.
Top 10 Small Animal Toxins
1) Human prescriptions such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) used to treat depression. Common clinical signs in small animals include sedation or central nervous system stimulation, anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, seizures, hyperthermia (increased body temperature), diarrhea and abdominal pain
2) Amphetamines, such as those used to treat ADD/ADHD and narcolepsy and illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, crystal meth and ecstacy. Clinical sings of intoxication include agitation, tremors, seizures, tachycardia (increased heart rate), vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, and panting.
3) Sleep aids such as Ambien and Lunesta. CNS signs of intoxication range from depression ataxia, and paresis to hyperactivity, anxiety, agitation and tremors. Other clinical signs include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, panting and hyperthermia.
4) Grapes, raisins, and currant. These common household foods have been linked to acute renal failure in dogs that ingested them. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy dehydration, anorexia, and abdominal pain. Kidney failure may be present as soon as 24 hours after ingestions.
5) Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as those that containing ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (Advil & Aleve) pose a risk for toxicosis, With NSAID toxicosis the GI tract, kidneys, CNS and platelets can be affected. With cats, severe renal failure is most commonly seen with NSAID toxicosis. Clinical signs include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, black tarry feces, abdominal pain, lethargy, malaise and dehydration.
6) Acetominophen (Tylenol) is an over the count analgesic and antipyretic used in human medicine. This drug is safe for human use, however it has a narrow margin of safety in dogs and cats that can develop severe toxicosis. In cats, lethargy, swelling of the face or paws, respiratory distress, brown mucous membranes, cyanosis, vomiting and anorexia can occur. In dogs, hepatic injury is more likely which presents as malaise, anorexia, hepatic encephalopathy (neurological symptoms from liver disease), vomiting, black tarry feces, and icterus (yellow mucous membranes).
7) Xylitol is a sugar free sweetener found in diabetic snacks, foods, mouthwashes, toothpastes, chewing gum, mints, candies and chewable vitamins. Sugar-less products with Xylitol listed in the first five ingredients can result in severe toxicosis within the first thirty minutes of ingestion. Clinical signs associated with toxicity include, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, collapse, anorexia, and hypoglycemia.
8) Rodent bait stations can be toxic to pets and clinical signs will not be present until 48 hours after ingestion. These include sever GI signs (vomiting, bloat, abdominal pain), CNS signs (tremors, seizure), and pulmonary signs (pulmonary edema and increased heart rate).
9) Household cleaners. Most surface cleaners are non-toxic and upon ingestion can result in minor GI signs. However, some concentrated cleaner can be toxic and corrosive to your pet. Appropriate pet proofing is the easiest way to prevent this toxicosis.
10) Batteries. When the casing of a battery is punctured there is risk of alkaline or acidic material to leak out, which can result in severe ulceration to any exposed tissues. Lithium button type batteries are the most dangerous and necrosis of the GI tract can occur within 30 minutes of ingestion.
What to do if you suspect your pet has ingested toxic material and how to prevent it?
The first step in preventing an accidental toxicosis is to adequately pet proof your house and to educate yourself on what items could pose a danger to your pets. A valuable resource for education and general knowledge about potential household hazards or to ask about toxin related questions is the Pet Poison Helpline. This is a 24/7 Animal Control Center that has many beneficial Internet resources and staff on hand to answer any questions. If your pet ingests a toxin please call your veterinarian and/or the pet poison hotline immediately. The sooner your pet is diagnoses, the easier, and safer and less costly it is to treat!