Below is some general information you might find useful. This information serves as a guide only and in no way should replace advice you receive directly from your vet. If have any concerns about your animal please contact us on (08) 8398 3988.
Toxic Household Products
Paracetamol is extremely toxic to cats because they cannot fully detoxify this drug. Doses from 50-100 mg/kg can cause toxicity. Toxicity in dogs can also occur with prolonged use of smaller doses. Cats and dogs can present with a reduced ability to breathe and paleness.
Rodenticides can cause the blood to stop coagulating. If an animal then has a cut this causes pronged and unexpected bleeding. Even though rodenticides may be stored away from pets, remember that eating a mouse that has eaten a rodenticide can also cause toxicity.
In addition, many rodenticides that contain Warfarin, Brodifacoum and/or Bromadioline can take a week or more to kill the rodent. During this time your pet or any other wildlife can eat the rodent. Many native owls and birds of prey then get poisoned to death.
There are many ways to get rid of rats and mice without using rodenticides. Firstly, tidy up around the house: cut any long grass, remove clutter and junk piles from the yard. Animal food, including birdseed and chicken food, should be stored in airtight rodent-proof containers. Rodenticides such as Racoumin contain Coumatetralyl and pose less of a risk to native wildlife. Traps can also be used, but it is essential they are not placed where any pets, children or native wildlife can get to them.
Ethylene glycol (antifreeze)
Antifreeze is a product used in car and truck radiators and colour film processing solution. This solution is sweet and cats and dogs like to lap up any dripping from cars. Irreversible kidney failure occurs if enough is ingested. Vomiting, seizures, depression, excess drinking of water, coma and convulsions can also happen and treatment must be sought immediately.
Two main toxins in snail baits are metaldehyde (green pellets) and carbamate (blue pellets). These can cause seizures, muscle tremors, excess salivation, increased pupil size, respiratory failure and ultimately heat stroke.
Common Toxic Foods
Chocolate & Coffee Beans
These products contain methylxanthines, which can be toxic to animals. After ingestion, dogs usually look like someone who has drunk too much coffee: they get restless, vomit, drink lots of water and are hyperexciteable. Tremours, seizures, panting, and heat stroke can result. Be especially careful around Easter and Christmas time: this is when chocolate may be plentiful around the house.
Onions & Garlic
Onions and garlic cause the destruction of red blood cells when ingested and anaemia or in severe cases, kidney failure occurs. The animal becomes pale, weak and starts vomiting. Doses from 15-30 grams/kg can cause clinical signs.
Grapes & Raisins
When dogs ingest grapes or raisins, kidney failure can result. Dogs can present with vomiting initially, then diarrhoea, depression and anorexia. 2.8g/kg of raisins and 19.6g/kg of grapes are enough to cause clinical signs.
Green Potatoes & Potato Peelings
These contain toxic compounds called oxalates, which, when ingested, can cause kidney failure and affect the digestive and nervous systems.
Ingestion of any tomatoes (including cherry tomatoes) or even the plant itself can be very toxic to cats and even a small amount can cause a stomach upset.
Any amount of alcohol can cause stupor, coma and lead to death.
If the dough contains yeast it can swell in the stomach and may cause it to rupture. Home-made play-dough is also toxic due to the high salt content and could prove fatal if proper treatment is not given by the vet.
Macadamia nuts contain the highest unsaturated fat content of any other nut. Eating too many macadamia nuts can therefore lead to pancreatitis as the pancreas is overworked, trying to digest the excess fat. Lethargy, vomiting and muscle tremors may be initial signs of toxicity.
Some species of mushrooms are toxic to dogs so it is best to avoid feeding them mushrooms all together. Be especially careful of ones that sprout up in the backyard.
These can cause intestinal blockage.
Eating Nutmeg can cause seizures, tremors and damage to the nervous system.
Rhubarb leaves contain oxalix acid – a corrosive substance toxic to the kidneys. Cooking leaves may may them even more toxic!
Foods that are sugar-free, such as gum, contains xylitol. This causes the animal to produce lots of insulin and therefore hypoglycemia (low sugar levels) can occur. The animal will show signs of weakness such as loss of balance. If the levels are not corrected, liver failure can result.
Dogs can ingest rotten garbage, dead carcasses or rotten fruit that they pick up off the street or even at home in your garden. It is advisable to ensure that dogs do not have any access to open bins because the ingestion of harmful bacteria can lead to an upset stomach and bacterial overgrowth causing vomiting, diarrhea and, if left untreated, severe gastritis.
There are many plants that could be potential poisons for your pet.
For a more extensive list see Adelaide Animal Hospital: Poisons in the Garden
Here are some of the common potentially toxic plants found around the Adelaide hills area:
Ricinus communis: Castor Oil Plant
This plant contains seeds that cause gastro intestinal signs after 24-36 hours, including vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, dehydration and subsequent death.
Lantana camara: Lantana
This plant is absorbed and metabolised in liver, where it produces toxic metabolites and subsequent liver and kidney damage. Animals may first show non-specific signs such depression, constipation and jaundice (yellowing of the mucus membranes in the eyes and mouth). However, it appears to be more toxic in certain areas of Australia than others, and also depends on the plant itself.
Plumeria rubra: Common frangipani
The milky sap or thorns of this plant may cause a stomach upset if ingested. A skin rash or irritation may also occur. Wash the affected area with soap and water as soon as possible and let us know if you think your pet has come into contact with this plant.
Zantedeschia aethiopica: Arum lily
All parts of the lily are poisonous and the toxin gives a burning sensation when ingested. Vomiting and diarrhoea can result and severe gastric irritation may become life threatening. Cats are especially venerable and die of kidney failure if they ingest this plant.
Persea americana: Avocado
Avocado leaves contain a toxic fatty acid derivative known as persin. Birds seem to be particularly sensitive to this toxic compound and symptoms include gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea and respiratory distress.
Aloe vera: Aloe vera
Although the gel can be used for healing properties, the latex in the leaves can cause a gastro-intestinal upset and sometimes a rash.
Narcissus spp.: Daffodil
The stalk and especially bulbs can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration if eaten in large quantities.
Digitalis purpurea: Foxglove
Although prescribed to certain animals as heart medication (digoxin), in healthy animals this plant is highly dangerous when ingested. It acts on the heart muscle, causing arrhythmias and a possible fatal heart disturbance. Eating any part of the plant is dangerous and vomiting, diarrhoea and tremours may occur after ingestion of even a small amount.
Solanum spp.: Nightshades
The berries of these plants can cause convulsions and gastrointestinal signs. Urgent veterinary attention should be saught.
Nerium Oleander: Oleander
The entire plant is toxic and can have harmful effects on the gastrointestinal system (vomiting, diarrhoea, salivation, abdominal pain), the heart (irregularities in heart beat and reduced circulation) and nervous system (tremours, seizures, collapse, coma) when eaten. In addtion, the sap is an irritant and can cuase an allergic reaction or inflammation when it comes in contact with skin.
Lathyrus odoratus: Sweet Pea
The seeds contain a toxin that causes central nervous system signs including loss of strength and reduced ability to move lower limbs, as well as buttock muscle wastage.
Brugmansia: Angel’s Trumpet
This plant contains toxic agents atropine and scopolamine, when ingested, can cause. When it comes into contact with the eyes it can cause pupil dilation. Although it has a bitter taste, symptoms of ingestion include blurred vision, fast heart rate and breathing difficulties, coma and deafness.