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



How to identify a possible poisoning and what to do if you think your pet has been poisoned


There are lots of different chemicals, drugs and plants that are poisonous to our pets.  Here is an overview of common poisons. dog with headache

Symptoms of poisoning

  • Contact poisons – chemicals or plants that come into contact with your pet’s skin can cause irritation.  You may see sign of discomfort, agitation, excessive scratching, swellings (hives) or pain.
  • Swallowed poisons – can cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, staggering, disorientation, convulsions, lethargy, loss of appetite, twitching, dilated pupils, ulcers, heart palpitations, and coma.
  • Inhaled poisons – coughing, drooling, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness or coma.

Poisons for which immediate care should be sought:

Skin contact

  • Tar
  • Petroleum products
  • Household chemicals
  • Paint or paint remover
  • Gasoline
  • Stinging nettles
  • Flea and tick medication – if overdosed, or if dog products are used on cats

Inhaled poisons 

  • Smoke
  • Tear gas
  • Insecticides
  • Household chemicals

Swallowed poisons

  • Alkalis
  • Acids
  • Household and garden chemicals
  • Petroleum Products
  • Antifreeze, screen wash
  • All drugs/medications – human or pet
  • Luminous necklaces/glow sticks
  • Batteries

Poisonous plants 

  • Ivy
  • Foxglove
  • Hemlock
  • Mushrooms
  • Mistletoe
  • Oleander
  • Lilies, including daffodils
  • Tulip
  • Oak/acorns

Food items

  • Chocolate
  • Onions, garlic, chives
  • Raisins/grapes
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Avocados
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Xylitol (an artificial sweetener commonly used in chewing gum and diabetic sweets)

What to do if you think your pet has been poisoned – immediate care

  • Contact your vet immediately upon ingestion or exposure to any known or possible toxin with as much information as possible regarding the toxin (name, strength, amount ingested).
  • If the poisoning is primarily from noxious fumes or a gas, get your pet to fresh air, but don’t put yourself at risk for poisoning.
  • If the poisoning is by contact with the skin, wear protective gloves and remove the substance from the skin/hair. Use paper towels or clean rags to remove liquids. Do not use water, solvents or anything else to remove the poison unless specifically directed to do so by your vet.
  • If the poison was in the mouth or swallowed, contact your vet. DO NOT induce vomiting unless specifically directed to do so, as some poisons can cause more damage if vomiting occurs than if left in the stomach.

Veterinary care – what to expect

  •  Diagnosis can usually only be made if you have observed your pet eating a specific toxin.  It is impossible to test for all toxins and for some toxins there is no test available.  Other tests may be done to assess the function of your pet’s internal organs and other health parameters.


  • If we know the specific poison, we may be able to give an antidote (but not all poisons have antidotes). If the type of poison is uncertain, or there is no antidote, treatment will be supportive in nature (i.e., we treat the symptoms) in an effort to maintain normal function of the organs until the poison has been processed out of the body. Unfortunately, for some poisons, despite treatment your pet may not survive. 


  • Keep your pet away from areas where chemicals and toxins are being used (kitchen, bathroom, garage) and ensure all chemicals are safely contained and stored out of reach of inquisitive paws and noses when not in use.
  • Do not keep poisonous plants in or around your home and watch for them while taking your dog outside.
  • If you use insecticides and/or rodenticides, follow the instructions carefully and make sure your pet cannot reach the treated area(s).
  • Keep human and pet medications stored in a safe and secure location. Label them carefully and keep count of how many are in each container. This information will be extremely useful in case of ingestion or an overdose.

dog with med bottles