Poison Prevention Awareness Month

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March is ‘Poison Prevention Awareness’ month, so to raise awareness here are some foods, plants and information regarding items which may be poisonous to our pets.

If you think you pet has been poisoned, don’t wait and call your vet immediately. Find your nearest veterinary practice

The RSPCA also have some useful guides on action to take should you suspect your pet has been poisoned.

Human foods

Watching us in the kitchen, praying something will drop on the floor… be aware that there are some foods which we consume, which may have a devastating impact on our dog’s health. No matter how big their eyes get, do not feed your dog any of the below foods, as these items can be dangerous and, in some cases even fatal…

Onions, Chives

These are from the same family (Allium genus) and can cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage. Symptoms of this may not be initially obvious and could take a few days before any signs of illness are displayed. Even if these foods are cooked, raw or dried, they will still have the same detrimental effect on your pet.

Chocolate

As much as your dog begs for this sweet treat, it can be extremely harmful to pets. Chocolate contains a stimulant called ‘Theobromine’ which is toxic to dogs and can even cause kidney failure. The darker the chocolate, the higher the content of theobromine present.

Avocados

Avocado plants contain a substance compound called ‘Persin’ which is present in the leaves of the plant, the fruit and seeds and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea for your dog if ingested.

Grapes and Raisins

Both grapes and raisins may cause severe liver damage and kidney failure. The ingredient in the raisin that causes the toxin is currently unknown. Raisins can also be found in some cakes, pastries and breads.

Alcohol

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in animals are like those in people and may include vomiting, breathing problems, coma and in severe cases death, so should always be avoided.

Macadamia Nuts and Black Walnuts

Macadamia nuts and black walnuts contain a toxin that can affect your dog’s muscles and nervous system resulting in weakness, swollen limbs and panting.

Xylitol

A sweetener that’s contained in many products and mostly found in products which are low in fat or are sugar free. Some peanut butters also contain this artificial sweetener. Dogs that ingest this can become hypoglycaemic, which causes a rapid drop in blood sugar resulting in weakness, possible seizures and loss of consciousness.

Household products

Cleaning products can be toxic and poisonous to not only humans, but also our pets.

Bleach, paint thinner, antifreeze and chemicals for swimming pools and hot tubs should be kept out of reach of pets.

Symptoms to look for if you suspect your dog has ingested any chemicals include stomach upset, depression, chemical burns, vomiting and foaming at the mouth.

Be mindful of ‘obvious’ poisons, for example, rodent poisons. Symptoms may not be obvious and noticeable immediately and your dog could become ill over the period of a few days after ingesting a toxic poison. Even if you have not used a rodent poison directly, any contact with an infected rodent could also cause your dog to become unwell.

Plants

We would all like our gardens to look like a creation from ‘Gardeners World’, however when choosing your garden plants, keep in mind that if eaten by your pet, some plants can be highly toxic. Make sure before buying any plants or flowers, you fully research to ensure they are safe and will not affect your pet if eaten.

Most bulbs are also poisonous to dogs, so just make sure they don’t go digging up the garden and eat any bulbs.

Below are just a few examples of poisonous plants:

Azalea

The plant contains cardiovascular toxins capable of weakening your dog’s heartbeat. Eating just a few leaves of the Azalea plant can irritate your dog’s mouth leading to vomiting, diarrhoea and worst-case scenario can cause a drop in blood pressure leading to coma and possible death.

Aloe vera

Although great for humans, Aloe Vera is mildly toxic to dogs. If ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, tremors and a change in urine colour.

Daffodil

These yellow bundles of joy are in abundance during springtime; however, be aware that all parts of the daffodil are toxic with the bulb being particularly poisonous to dogs. Even drinking water from a vase containing daffodils is toxic as this pretty flower contains a very high concentration of a chemical called ‘Lycorine’.

Ingesting any part of a daffodil can cause your dog to suffer low blood pressure, diarrhoea, vomiting and in some cases can cause fitting.

Tulip

As with the Daffodil, all parts of the tulip are poisonous, again with the bulb being the most toxic to dogs.

Symptoms may include excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and general oral irritation. More extreme symptoms can include heart problems and breathing difficulties.

Sago Palm

Every part of this plant is toxic to dogs with the seeds (nuts) being the most toxic. The Sago plant contains a toxin called ‘Cycasin’ and this may attack the liver causing side effects including bloody vomit and diarrhoea, liver failure and in serious cases, may even cause death.

The degree of toxicity of Sago Palms is considered 'severe'.

Chrysanthemums

Any plant in the Chrysanthemum family is poisonous for your dog as it contains ‘Pyrethrin’ and ‘Sesquiterpene’ which are both irritants to your dog’s skin and digestive system. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea and a general lack of co-ordination.

Peonies

All parts of the Peony plant will cause your pet gastrointestinal upset. It can cause decreased energy (lethargy), vomiting and diarrhoea and dehydration if vomiting becomes excessive.

Irises

There are multiple compounds in irises that are toxic to your dog, if ingested the dog may lose energy/become lethargic, experience vomiting and/or drool diarrhoea. It can also cause skin irritation.

Foxgloves

Foxgloves are not only toxic to pets, but also very poisonous to humans! Every part of the foxglove is toxic and may, in severe cases, cause cardiac failure and even death if ingested. The poison in the foxglove is called ‘Cardiac Glycoside’ which directly interferes with the electrolyte balance within the heart muscle of your pet.

Out and About

Slugs & Snails - Lungworm

Dogs get lungworm by eating larvae found in infected snails, slugs or frogs. They can also accidentally eat infected slugs if they are on a toy or their fur. The lungworm larvae then grow inside the dog and adult lungworms move through their body to live in their heart and blood vessels.

Symptoms: progressively worsening signs of cardiac and respiratory disease, such as coughing causing haemorrhages in lungs, liver, intestine, eyes, and spinal cord, but also pretty much anywhere in the body. If left untreated, it can be fatal in severe cases.

Toads

Toads commonly eat slugs and snails and can therefore could become a carrier of lungworm should your dog eat the toad.

Toads secrete venom from glands found on their skin that can be poisonous to pets that bite, lick or pick them up with their mouths.

Symptoms may include, crying, pawing at mouth or eyes, drooling, difficulty in breathing.

Blue-Green Algae

Dogs can develop poisoning when they drink from, or even simply swim in, contaminated water sources.

Exposure to Blue-Green algae unfortunately can prove fatal for many and for those dogs lucky enough to survive, they may then suffer long term health problems.

Symptoms that may present themselves if your dog has swum, drank, or licked themselves after encountering the algae include vomiting, diarrhoea, fitting, weakness and breathing problems, so it is advisable to avoid water sources containing algae.

Adder Snake Bites

Adders are the only poisonous snake here in the UK and will only bite if provoked, in self-defence. Symptoms of an adder bite may include pain, bleeding, bruising, lameness, distress and in more severe cases of adder bites animals may collapse, have tremors and even experience organ failure.


The information provided above is to help prevent poisoning by raising awareness. If you suspect your dog has ingested any toxins, seek veterinary help immediately.


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