Most people are aware that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. The dangerous part is actually theobromine, which is part of to coco bean. The amount of theobromine in chocolate varies greatly and so it is important to know exactly what type of chocolate and how much has been eaten. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning can be seen if your dog eats more than
- 14 grams per kg (dogs weight) of milk chocolate or
- 3.5 grams per kg (dogs weight) of dark chocolate.
White chocolate does not contain any theobromine and so is not poisonous (although it is still not recommended as a treat). Chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream also contain theobromine and so are equally toxic. If your dog has eaten any milk or dark chocolate, please contact the surgery right away.
Paracetamol is LETHAL to cats. Even a fraction of a tablet will kill a cat. If you know that your cat has ingested any amount of paracetamol contact the surgery IMMEDIATELY.
Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (nsaids) – aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac etc. All these drugs can lead to gastro-intestinal signs (vomiting and diarrhoea). Higher doses can also cause neurological signs and kidney problems.
Benzalkonium Chloride (BAC)
BAC is a common ingredient in many household cleaning products, especially antibacterial cleaners and disinfectants. At low doses it is relatively safe. However problems have been seen when cats get it on their coats and feet, as grooming will lead to high concentrations in the mouth which damage the tissues and lead to severe ulceration of the tongue and mouth. If your cat comes in contact with any product containing BAC, stop if from grooming (a buster collar is handy for this) and wash it in warm soapy water and keep them warm until they are dry. If there has been any damage to the mouth then take them to the vet as soon as possible. The most common clinical signs are excessive salivation (drooling), tongue and mouth ulceration and lack of appetite. Mild cases will respond well to pain relief and antibiotics, but more severe cases may need intravenous fluids and possibly even a feeding tube placed to ensure they get adequate nutrition until the mouth has healed.
Laundry detergent capsules (liquitabs)
Laundry capsules have been about since 2001. Each capsule contains 30-50ml of highly concentrated detergent inside a water-soluble clear wrapping. They rapidly dissolve on contact with water, moisture or saliva. They tend to burst when bitten, shooting their contents down pets’ throats, and occasionally onto their skin and eyes. Due to its very concentrated nature, this detergent is highly toxic. Clinical signs of intoxication include, profuse vomiting, drooling, diarrhoea, respiratory signs, tremors, hyperthermia, and fitting. Treatment is mainly symptomatic. Washing the mouth out with water may help, vomiting must NOT be induced, instead activated charcoal is given orally in an attempt to neutralise then detergent. Other treatment involve oxygen therapy, intravenous fluids, pain relief and antibiotics. We strongly recommend you keep your laundry capsules in a cupboard safely away from your pets (and children).
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is often added to solutions intended to sooth skin irritations in human.However if applied to animals they will often lick the area and ingest it. The application of even a few drops topically can be toxic to both cats and dogs, especially if it is pure oil. The signs of poisoning are varied but include excessive salivation, depression, tremors, wobbliness, and even collapse, coma and death. We can also see damage to both the liver and kidneys. If any tea tree oil gets on your pet we recommend washing the area immediately with a soap solution safe for animals and contacting your vet.
Acorn ingestion is less common in dogs than in grazing animals, but some dogs will still try and eat them. They are toxic and can lead to severe gastrointestinal signs, vomiting, diarrhoea (sometimes with blood), tenderness, poor appetite. The risk of obstruction is low as affected animals usually vomit. Please contact your vet if your dog has eaten acorns.
There are many different types of rat poison. Most work by stopping the animals blood being able to clot, leading to them bleeding to death. They often take several days to become effective and so you may not know immediately if your pet has been affected. If you suspect your pet may have eaten rat poison (or a poisoned rodent) contact your vet immediately and if possible get the name of the poison. Blood tests can be done to see if your pet is affected before they show clinical signs of bleeding. Treatment is with vitamin K to improve blood clotting.
Overdose with antihistamines can cause depression of the central nervous system (i.e. sedation, coma). Treatment is generally supportive until the effects wear off.