Pet Poison Prevention

Are You Serious About Pet Poison Prevention?

Have you safeguarded your pets from poisons in your home environment? It’s easy or overlook things that we may not consider dangerous, but they can be very hazardous to our pets. This month we turn our attention to an important pet health topic – poison prevention. March 17-24 is National Pet Poison Prevention Week so it’s a good time to take a look around your home and look for potential poisons that could harm or worse yet, result in loss of the life of your pet.

You wouldn’t think of chocolate as toxic, but it definitely can be for pets. Chocolate contains the chemicals caffeine and theobromine that can cause harm to pets. If ingested in sufficient quantity this will cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate and seizures and requires immediate medical attention. As soon as you realize your dog or cat has eaten chocolate you should call our hospital or the emergency clinic to determine if there is a potential for damage. The degree of risk depends on the type and amount of chocolate consumed and your pet’s weight. We often have to induce vomiting to prevent the pet from absorbing the toxins.

Rodenticides – rat and mice poison – are all toxic to our pets if ingested. Dogs and cats mayingest things accidentally by walking through the area and then licking their feet and fur. Read the labels, and save them just in case one of your pets ingests the toxin.

Another toxin that is found in many households is cannabis or marijuana. We see numerous cases of marijuana poisoning after a pet has ingested sufficient quantities of cannabis which now comes in many forms – raw plant, dried leaves or bud and edibles. Pets can get very sick and will appear lethargic, disoriented, hyper reactive and may urinate inappropriately.

Something that will be found in damp rainy weather like we’re experiencing now is moldy walnuts. This can result in a life-threatening condition caused by ingestion of moldy food – usually walnuts – that are lying on the ground. – Our pets, usually dogs, often eat them unknowingly while they are ingesting other items! (Like Kitty poop ?) Some dogs just like to put them in their mouths and chew. We also see this with the ingestion of compost.

The first symptom of this toxin is a head tremor, often a side to side tilting of the head, then the body starts with to quiver and shake. These dogs need veterinary care as soon as possible. If they don’t get medical care their bodies will continue to tremor and actually seizure and this can result in hyperthermia and death. So, watch them like hawks and don’t let them eat anything off the ground, including MUSHROOMS, and if you have walnut trees, try to get them all up and out of their reach! It could save their lives.

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Here is a list of the top 10 poisons for dogs and cats, compiled by the Pet Poison Hotline:

Dog Poisons
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  • Chocolate
  • Mouse and Rat Poisons (rodenticides)
  • Vitamins and Minerals (e.g., Vitamin D3, iron, etc.)
  • NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.)
  • Cardiac Medications (e.g., calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, etc.)
  • Cold and Allergy Medications (e.g., pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, etc.)
  • Antidepressants (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • Xylitol (common in toothpaste and chewing gum – read your labels to ensure your pet is safe!)
  • Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol)
  • Caffeine Pills


Note: While marijuana, onions and grapes didn’t make the Pet Poison Hotline’s top 10 list we would include these as common poisons, especially here in California.

Cat Poisons
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  • Topical spot-on insecticides
  • Household Cleaners
  • Antidepressants
  • Lilies – beware of Easter Lilies!
  • Insoluble Oxalate Plants (e.g., Dieffenbachia, Philodendron, etc.)
  • Human and Veterinary NSAIDs
  • Cold and Flu Medication (e.g., Tylenol)
  • Glow Sticks
  • ADD/ADHD Medications/Amphetamines
  • Mouse and Rat Poison


More information on pet poisons can be found at these web sites:

Pet Poison Prevention Week March 17-24
ASPCA Animal Poison Control
American Association of Poison Control Centers