We sadly see about 2-4 cases of confirmed poisoning every month in pets, and lots more cases of non-specific gastroenteritis which could be caused by mild poisoning.
It is mainly dogs that are affected as they are less fussy in what they scavenge and eat but we do see cases of cats that are poisoned too.
The most common poisons that affect pets are:
- Rodent Poisons (‘Rodenticides’), these contain anticoagulants, such as warfarin, which prevent blood clotting. Not all rodenticides are anticoagulants so it is really important to try and find out which one has been ingested. Ingesting these poisons can cause life-threatening bleeding. This bleeding may not appear for several days and may be internal and not visible so it is vital that you seek veterinary attention as soon as possible if you think that your pet may have eaten rat poison.
- Chocolate, contains the stimulant theobromine which is toxic to dogs. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, dehydration, hyperactivity, high temperature and blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm and tremors.
- Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants, are very toxic for our pets and cooking or baking doesn’t reduce the risks. Poisoning causes vomiting and diarrhoea but can lead to kidney failure a few days after the initial effects.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s), eg. Ibuprofen. It is not uncommon for us to see dogs that have eaten their owners medication. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding internally, stomach ulceration and kidney failure.
- Slug Pellets, these contain metaldehyde which is extremely poisonous and is usually fatal without urgent treatment. Dogs that have eaten slug pellets may initially appear unsteady on their feet and twitchy but may rapidly deteriorate and suffer convulsions and possibly respiratory failure.
- Antifreeze, this contains ethylene glycol which has a sweet taste that is particularly appealing to cats. Ingesting even the smallest amount can cause kidney failure and death.
If you suspect that you pet may have been poisoned it is essential to seek urgent veterinary advice as the sooner these cases are treated the better chances they have of making a full recovery.