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April 29, 2011 > Veterinary & Pet News: Household Pet Poisons

Veterinary & Pet News: Household Pet Poisons


Poisoning cases happen due to common misunderstandings; placing poisons in close proximity to our pets. Many people assume the products they use on humans work the same way in pets. This is a continuation of a column printed two weeks ago.

Human drugs
Many pet owners simply don't know that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are poisonous when given to pets. Animals have different enzymes and physiological mechanisms that don't always correspond to human physiology. Pain killers, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills can be lethal to animals even in small doses. Tylenol is extremely toxic to cats, and to a lesser extent in dogs, causing severe blood disorders and liver problems.

All drugs including those prescribed by your veterinarian should be kept out of reach of your four legged companions. Recently, we had a dog who liked the medication we prescribed him so much, he chewed through the plastic and consumed the entire bottle! Although this medication was safe at low doses, it was a serious health hazard in the amount he ingested. After treatment and a few hundred dollars, he was back on his feet and back to normal. As a result, we recommend that you keep Fluffy's medications away from him as well. Don't give any medications to your pets without consulting your veterinarian.

Although antifreeze poisoning is not as common in our area, it is perhaps the most lethal poison. Dogs and cats love to drink this sweet smelling and tasting coolant. When pets drink antifreeze, it crystallizes in the kidneys and causes acute kidney failure. If diagnosed and treated early, your pet may recover.

Garbage ingestion
Garbage is not often regarded as poisonous. However, toxins produced by bacteria are found in garbage. Rapid and severe signs include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, painful abdomen, and shock.

Poisonous plants
Be aware of the plants in your home and yard. Easter lily, day lily, tiger lily, and some other lilies can cause severe kidney failure in cats. Other poisonous plants often ingested are azalea, oleander, sago palm, castor bean, amaryllis, or yew plant. Hundreds of other plants are toxic but less common in this area.

Human foods
Many people bond with their pets by sharing people food with them. Not only is this a risky habit, but it can lead to a lot of health problems. The following foods are hazardous to your pet: macadamia nuts, raisins, grapes, onions, onion powder, alcoholic beverages, yeast dough, cigarettes, coffee grounds and beans.

Doggie chews
Rawhide chews may be contaminated with Salmonella, which can infect pets and humans who come in contact with the chews. These chews should only be offered with supervision, as they can cause a choking hazard.

Our feathered friends are very vulnerable to common toxicities. Please don't give them avocado, caffeine, chocolate, or alcohol. Fumes from nonstick cooking surfaces and self-cleaning ovens can also be deadly to birds. Always be cautious when using aerosol products around birds.

If you believe your pet has been poisoned, please visit your veterinarian as soon as you become aware. By being proactive, we can save our companions from needless suffering.

Dr Raj Salwan is a second generation Veterinarian and has been around Veterinary Medicine for over 23 years. His interests include Internal Medicine, Surgery, Emergency/Acute Care, and general small animal practice. He currently works at American Animal Care in Fremont and can be reached via email at or

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