10 pantry items that are poisonous to pets

By Animal Wellness

Do you know what items in your kitchen are poisonous to dogs and cats? Pet toxicology experts identify top 10 toxins commonly found in a pantry.

When you think of your pantry, images of household staples, cooking supplies, snacks and other food items come to mind. In reality, what you may find is a pantry full of potential pet poisons.

In honor of National Poison Prevention Week, March 20-26, the toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline reviewed their case data and developed a list of the top 10 potential pet poisons commonly found in your pantry.

“Most people don’t realize that common household foods for human consumption can be toxic to pets, especially if they consume them in large quantities” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. “Many pets join the family in the kitchen, and often have access to the pantry. Hidden inside that pantry are a number of items that are either dangerous on their own or contain ingredients that can be toxic to pets.”

Here is Pet Poison Helpline’s Top 10 Pantry of Pet Poisons:

1. Alcohol

Animals are at a high risk for developing alcohol poisoning even with small amounts of alcohol.  Low blood sugar, lethargy and seizures can occur.

2. Chocolate

The darker the chocolate, the higher the amount of methylxanthines, increasing the risk of poisoning. Keep away to avoid vomiting, diarrhea, and agitation.  Large ingestions can result in heart rhythm changes and even seizures.

3. Coffee beans/grounds

Caffeine is a stimulant for everyone – too much can cause tremors and a racing heart. Keep your pet off of the ceiling and out of the hospital.

4. Garlic and onion

Garlic and onion can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as anemia and other red blood cell changes depending on the amount ingested due to sulfur containing oxidants.

5. Macadamia nuts

These nuts can cause dogs to have difficulty walking, which can be stressful and dangerous around stairs.  Additional risks include joint pain and pancreatitis.

6. Raisins

Ingesting only a few raisins can result in kidney injury for your furry pet.  Early signs include vomiting and lethargy.

7. Salt

Pets should never be given salt.  Salt is a poison for dogs and can cause vomiting, tremors and seizures.

8. Tea

Small dogs and cats may have too much caffeine from a bag of tea and all pets might have trouble passing the bag with a string.

9. Xylitol/Birch sugar (gum, mints, sugar-free products, protein bars, specialty peanut butters)

Xylitol/birch sugar and dogs are not a good combination.  Beware of seizures from low blood sugar as well as possible liver failure – this is not a sweet treat!

10. Yeast

When mixed into a dough, yeast organisms are busy making alcohol and lots of gas through fermentation. The dough can expand in the stomach, blocking the ability for the dough and gas to pass through.  The alcohol produced may result in alcohol poisoning.

Common Seasonal Poisons and Food Dangers for Dogs

Courtesy of VetsNowdog getting meds

Shown  below are some common poisonous substances and foods we see affecting dogs.  We have split them into seasons, but actually most can be seen at any time of year.  In all cases, if you suspect your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t, try and get as much information as possible for the veterinary team – trade name, active ingredient, amount ingested, time ingested.  If you have the original packaging take that with you for the vet to see.

Spring and Easter poisons

  • Chocolate. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs.  The amount of theobromine differs in the different types of chocolate (dark chocolate has the most in it
  • Raisins. Don’t forget that goodies such as hot-cross buns contain raisins.  Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas can cause renal (kidney) failure in dogs.
  • Spring flowers. Daffodils can be toxic, most often after ingestion of the bulb but occasionally after ingestion of flower heads and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy that in severe cases may result in dehydration, tremors and convulsions. These signs can be seen from 15 minutes to one day following ingestion. Other spring flowers, such as Crocuses and Tulips, are considered to be less toxic but seek veterinary advice if you are worried your pet has ingested them.
  • Ivy. Dogs that eat ivy (Hedera helix) commonly develop salivation (dribbling), vomiting or diarrhea. In more severe cases you may see blood in the vomitus or bloody feces.  Contact with ivy can cause skin reactions, conjunctivitis, itchiness, and skin rashes. Note that “Poison Ivy” is a different plant – Rhus radicans.
  • Bluebells. All parts of the plant are poisonous to dogs.  Signs are related to stomach, intestine and heart function and include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. There is a risk of heart beat irregularity (arrhythmia) if a significant quantity be ingested.
  • Adder bites. The European adder is the only venomous snake native to the UK. Adults are around 50-60cm long and are characterized by having a black / brown zigzag pattern along their back and V shaped marking on the back of the head. They are commonly found on dry, sandy heaths, sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges. They generally only bite when provoked by humans, dogs or cats and bites rarely occur during the winter when the snake is hibernating. Bites are more frequent in the spring and summer and result in local swelling.  The swelling may spread and can be severe. Other signs include pale mucous membranes, bruising, salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, restlessness, drowsiness and lethargy. Eventually animals may collapse, have blood clotting problems, tremors or convulsions. Seek veterinary attention quickly if your dog is bitten.  Anti-venom is used if available (although it can be difficult to obtain) and if considered appropriate.
  • Anti-histamines. From spring to early summer the pollen count is at its highest and this is when owners are likely to be stocking up on their anti-histamine medication.  Ingestion of large amounts of anti-histamines results in signs that may include vomiting, lethargy, incoordination, wobbliness and tremors. Signs develop within 4-7 hours of ingestion. Some dogs may become hyperactive and hyper-excitable and if large amounts of anti-histamine have been eaten convulsions, respiratory depression and coma may occur.

Summer poisons

  • Xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener commonly found in sugar free chewing gum, nicotine replacement gum, sweets and as a sugar substitute in baking. If ingested by dogs it causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level).  You may see vomiting, an increased heart rate, wobbliness, convulsions or coma. In severe case of hypoglycemia fitting may result which if prolonged, can lead to permanent neurological (brain/nerve) damage.  Liver failure has also been associated with the ingestion of xylitol in dogs.  The onset of signs is often less than an hour but can be delayed for 24-48 hours after ingestion. Liver damage may also develop without the signs associated with hypoglycemia and may occur up to 3 days after ingestion.
  • Ant powders, baits and gels. Ingestion of ant powders, baits or gels rarely results in significant poisoning. The active components of home use products tend to be at a low concentration and are often housed in containers e.g. ant bait stations. However ingestion of some products causes significant problems and you should contact your vet for advice.  Signs you may see include constricted pupils, salivation, wobbliness, tremors and an increased body temperature. Severe cases may produce respiratory depression (not breathing fast enough), convulsions and coma and the duration of effects can be very prolonged.
  • Slug and snail pellets. Metaldehyde based slug pellets are among the most dangerous and common poisonings we see in dogs.  Even small amounts of pellets can cause significant poisoning and severe signs can occur within an hour of consumption.  Dogs that have eaten slug pellets need to be seen ASAP as rapid intervention can save their life.  Signs of poisoning can include; incoordination, muscle spasms, muscle rigidity, twitching, tremors and convulsions. Intensive treatment involving heavy sedation, control of convulsions and associated life support measures is often needed.
  • Toad toxicity. There are two species of toad native to Britain, the Common toad and the Natterjack toad. The Common toad is widespread, whilst the Natterjack toad is a protected species found in East Anglia and the North West of England. Exposure to toads occurs between June and August when they are spawning, toads being most active around dawn and dusk. Most toad-related incidents occur in the evening when cats or dogs lick or eat them.  This can lead to signs including hyper salivation (dribbling), frothing, foaming, oral pain, vomiting, wobbliness, shaking, an increase in body temperature and collapse. In severe cases convulsions can occur.  You can thoroughly rinse your dog’s mouth out (don’t let them swallow the water) then contact your vet for further advice.

Autumn poisons

  • Conkers. Serious cases of poisoning are rare – ingestion can cause marked gastro-intestinal signs – drooling, retching, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. The conker’s case and conkers themselves also present a risk by causing an intestinal blockage. Dogs usually vomit any ingested conkers quickly and treatment to control vomiting may be needed.
  • Anticoagulant rodenticides. Most, but not all, rodenticides in the UK contain anti-coagulant compounds that interfere with a rat’s ability to clot its own blood. One off exposure to products bought in garden centers often does not cause problems. However, repeated exposure to products or exposure to professional rodent baits can cause disruption to a dog’s blood clotting ability and result in massive hemorrhage (bleeding). The effects may be delayed for several days – blood-clotting (coagulation) tests are often needed to determine if a dog is at risk of developing problems. Treatment involves giving an antidote and in severe cases transfusions of plasma or whole blood.
  • Luminous necklaces. The chemical mixture within these necklaces is very irritating to the gums – commonly causing salivation (dribbling), frothing/foaming from the mouth, vomiting and stomach pain. Although the signs can look dramatic, ingestion is unlikely to cause significant problems.
  • Oak/acorns. Exposure to acorns in dogs is common in the autumn and winter months.  The toxic ingredient is thought to be tannic acid, which can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea (with or without blood), abdominal pain, no appetite and lethargy.  Ingested acorns can also cause an intestinal blockage.

Winter and Christmas poisons

  • Food hazards. Chocolate, onions, nuts, blue cheese, fruit cakes, puddings and mince pies can all be toxic to dogs.  Watch out for turkey bones as these can cause choking, constipation or cause damage to your dog’s intestines.
  • Christmas trees and plants. Most species are low toxicity but may cause a mild gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and/or diarrhea) if chewed. Tinsel and decorations can cause intestinal blockages if eaten and your pet may get a nasty shock if they chew through the electrical cable for your Christmas lights.  Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are all toxic to dogs so keep them out of their reach.
  • Batteries. Ingestion of batteries is more common at this time of year.  If the battery is chewed and pierced it can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning.  If they are swallowed whole it is possible they will cause a blockage.  All batteries are potentially toxic so if you suspect your dog has chewed or swallowed a battery speak to your local vet.
  • Antifreeze. Ethylene glycol (anti freeze) ingestion is very dangerous. It is sweet-tasting and very palatable. Even a relatively small quantity can cause serious kidney damage and can be fatal.  Unfortunately the longer the delay between ingestion of the anti freeze and initiation of treatment the less favorable the prognosis.

All year round

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs are used for pain relief. Many human products are available over-the-counter, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen or aspirin.  Human NSAIDs can be toxic to all animals, but particularly to dogs where they can cause severe stomach ulceration and acute kidney or liver failure. Please do be very careful and always consult your vet before giving your dog any form of medication.
  • Animal NSAIDs are commonly used in veterinary medicine with trade names including Rimadyl and Metacam.  Many of these have been made palatable to assist owners in giving medications to their pets.  However if your pet gets hold of the medication they can eat more than they should.  In cases of poisoning or overdose, toxic effects develop quickly and include persistent vomiting, vomiting blood, diarrhea, and abdominal tenderness. Weakness and depression are often noted, though some animals show no signs of pain. Gastric (stomach) ulceration can occur without other clinical signs being present. Kidney damage is usually delayed by up to five days after poisoning and animals that are already unwell, dehydrated or with poor kidney function are at greater risk of toxic effects.
  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D compounds (calciferol, calcipotriol, calcitriol, cholecalciferol, tacalcitol, alfacalcidol and paricalcitol) are present in a wide variety of products. Examples include vitamin supplements, cod liver oil, rodenticides and feed additives. In human medicine they are commonly used in psoriasis treatments and vitamin D deficiencies. Veterinary uses include control of low blood calcium in cats and dogs with kidney disease.  All vitamin D compounds are potentially toxic to dogs.  Signs of toxicity depend on the compound and amount ingested, in the case of calcipotriol, calcitriol and tacalcitol signs may be seen within six hours and include weakness and lethargy, depression, increased water intake and increased urine output, profuse vomiting and diarrhoea. Signs progress to wobbliness, arching of the back, muscle spasms, and twitching. Fatal cases do occur, especially in dogs following ingestion of human psoriasis creams, however effective treatments are available in animals that have not developed advanced poisoning.
  • Mushrooms. The most common account of poisoning is by the mushroom Amanita phalloides, which is extremely toxic. Signs include mild vomiting and diarrhea and can lead to more severe digestive problems, neurological (brain/nerve) disorders and liver disease.
  • Salt. Common products that are very high in salt include – sterilizing fluids, water softeners, dishwasher salt, rock salt (used to de-ice roads) and some bath products (e.g. dead sea salt, bath salt), stock cubes, homemade play-doh and gravy powders.  Salt (sodium chloride) toxicity is extremely dangerous and potentially fatal – a toxic dose may be as little as 1/16th of a teaspoon per kg of body weight.  Do not attempt to make your dog sick (following ingestion of a poison) using salt water, it can cause severe problems and interfere with the treatment your dog needs.

Substances of low toxicity

Here is a list of common items that owners report their dogs have eaten.   Most cause only mild gastrointestinal signs (such as vomiting or diarrhea) but nevertheless contact your vet for further advice if your dog has eaten any of the following.

  • Blu-tack – and other similar adhesives
  • Chalk
  • Charcoal
  • Coal (real or artificial)
  • Cut-flower/houseplant food
  • Expanded polystyrene
  • Folic acid tablets
  • Fuchsia plants
  • Honeysuckle plants
  • Matches
  • Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy tablets
  • Pyracantha plants
  • Rowan tree
  • Silica gel – in small sachets found in packaging of moisture sensitive goods
  • Wax candles / crayons
  • Sun cream
  • After sun
  • Ice packs (methylcellulose)
  • Sunflowers
  • Sand
  • Slugs and snails (not toxic but are potential carriers of Lungworm)sick-dog-10980120

Ibuprofen is Poisonous to Dogs

After the party

Courtesy of VetsNow http://www.vets-now.com/home/

We’ve all been there, your dog comes in having had a scrape and you think ‘ouch, where are the painkillers?’ One of the most common pain killers used by ourselves is Ibuprofen commonly sold as Nurofen, but please do not be tempted – although safe in people, it is poisonous to dogs.

So, why is ibuprofen poisonous to dogs?

Within a dogs body, much like ours, there are substances produced that protect us. An important example is prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are complex molecules which protect many of a dog’s internal organs. One of the effects of ibuprofen in dogs is to stop prostaglandin production, so organs that need prostaglandins for protection can be damaged.

What can you do to protect your dog?

If your dog seems unwell or has a minor injury, it is extremely tempting to reach into the medicine cabinet for a drug that you would use for yourself and administer it to your pet. Likewise if your dog requires long term pain medication for diseases such as arthritis and you run out or are looking for an easier option, it might be tempting to use a human drug.However please don’t use ibuprofen. The fact is that different species react to drugs in different ways and this applies as much to dogs and cats as it does to dogs and people. If your vet has prescribed pain killers these will have been extensively tested by drug companies to ensure that they are safe to your dog.

What should I do if my dog has ingested Ibuprofen?

Please call your vet immediately, as the best treatment is to induce vomiting ideally within 3 hours of ingestion. If ingestion was longer than 3 hours ago, the body might have absorbed enough and there is a need to protect the kidneys and the intestines. Your dog may be admitted into the surgery and placed on a drip to maintain blood pressure and help the kidneys. To protect the intestines, gastric protectant medicines may be used.

Pet Hazards in the Home and Garden

After the partyPoisonings in the home occur in a number of cases each year.  The most common are chocolate and other food stuffs, contraceptive medicines, other prescription medicines, non-prescription drugs, dog flea products used on cats and washing powder.  Keep all substances that are toxic to pets well out of their reach and in secure containers.  If your pet is unwell, phone your vet for advice, DO NOT give any human medications to your pet without veterinary advice.  Ibuprofen can be toxic to dogs and paracetamol is highly toxic to cats.

Foreign bodies – dogs in particular like to pick up and carry objects like shoes, socks and toys.  Unfortunately occasionally these items are swallowed and can lead to a blockage in your dog’s (or occasionally cat’s) intestines.  Our vets have removed all manner of items from animals’ intestines over the last couple of years including; socks, pants, stones, corn on the cob, rubber ducks, toy soldiers, batteries, babies dummies, teats from babies bottles, leather strap from a handbag, bones (most commonly lamb), small rubber bouncy balls, kebab stick, latex glove, sewing needle and thread.

Try to prevent your dog carrying around and chewing inappropriate items.  Some dogs (especially the gun dog breeds) were bred to carry things in their mouths so ensure they have appropriate dog toys they are allowed to carry to try and prevent them picking up things they shouldn’t.

Vomiting and diarrhea – the majority of cases of vomiting and/or diarrhea in dogs is caused by a dietary indiscretion (eating random things!) or scavenging.  Try to prevent your dog picking up rubbish like discarded sandwiches or other food or eating dead birds, rabbits or similar he might find on his walk.  Some dogs have quite sensitive stomachs, so avoid giving them food leftovers, especially high fat foods.

Out and about

A large number of the cases we see are as a result of trauma.  From road traffic accidents to falling off a cliff and everything in between.

Road traffic accidents – If you are going to let your dog off the lead make sure you are in a safe environment.  Ensure your dog is well trained (especially the recall and wait/stop command), under control and within your sight at all times.  Even the best trained dog can be spooked and run off, so ensure your dog is wearing a collar, ID tag and ideally is microchipped (don’t forget to keep your contact details up to date).  This will make it much easier to reunite you with your pet if they do become separated from you.

Indoor cats do not get hit by cars or attacked by other cats or dogs.  If you decide to let your cat out, try and train them to be out during the day and in overnight as the majority of cats are hit by cars during the hours of darkness.  We see a significant increase in road traffic accidents in the autumn when the clocks change – so try and ensure your cat is back safely in the house by the time it is dark and rush hour begins.  Ensure your cat is microchipped to increase the chance you will be reunited should anything happen to your cat.

Sticks – we frequently see injuries associated with sticks.  The most common cause of the accident is the when the stick is thrown for the dog and lands like a javelin sticking up out of the ground – the dog then runs onto the stick and can injure the back of the mouth, tongue and oesophagus (food pipe) or trachea (windpipe).  Sadly we also see cases of dogs choking to death on balls – the worst are small hard rubber balls, with or without rope attached.

Health issues

Pyometra – a pyometra is a uterine infection that is most commonly seen in older non-speyed females (both dogs and cats).  By neutering your female pet you eliminate this risk altogether.  Neutering your pet also brings other health benefits including reducing the risk of mammary (breast) cancer if performed when young.

Kittening/whelping problems – complications arising from kittening or whelping can be numerous so think carefully about whether or not you should breed your pet.  Aspects to consider include the suitability of your pet for breeding (temperament, health), time involved and the fact that there is a high number of stray pets in the USA.  Another area to consider is the costs that may be involved – a caesarean section in the middle of the night can cost quite a lot of money.

Article courtesy of VetsNow