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Welcome to our Poison and Toxin page 

We hope to provide regular updates with toxins that your pets may be exposed to in everyday life. Our aim is to help educate our clients as to how to keep their pets safe, avoid potential toxins and what to do if they have already been encountered.

NEW *Intoxication – a Fungus Focus*

 

We’ve all chanced across mushrooms on our dog walks.  They can be found in even the most urban areas, a surprising abundance often springing up overnight in a variety of shapes and sizes that tempt our four legged friends.  It is thought that mushroom intoxication in dogs is an under recognized condition, and may even be a confounding factor in canine seasonal illness.  Symptoms are usually seen following recent walking, sometimes the act of mushroom scoffing is even witnessed.  Most owners will know the sinking feeling of observing their canine friend snaffling up an unmentionable at 50 paces. 

Clinical symptoms are seen quickly, they often involve stimulation of the intestinal tract causing acute vomiting, very watery diarrhoea and profuse salivation.  The culprit can also suffer life threatening hypothermia, abdominal pain and neurological compromise.  A swift trip to the vet is recommended.  At any hour of the day, Lida Vets can be contacted to help with these situations on their dedicated 24 hour service.

Treatment will usual involve intensive supportive treatment of warming, intravenous fluids, pain relief and pharmacological support.  Thankfully, the majority of cases make a complete recovery. 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

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

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, diarrhoea, 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 LIDA VETS 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.

Treatment

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. 

Prevention

  • 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.

Some more detail on common toxins...

 

Antifreeze

 

Antifreeze, which contains ethylene glycol (EG), is extremely dangerous to dogs and cats. Sources of ethylene glycol include automotive antifreeze (radiator coolant, which typically contains 95% ethylene glycol), windshield deicing agents, motor oils, hydraulic brake fluid, developing solutions for photography, paints, solvents, and many others. As little as a tablespoon can result in severe acute kidney failure in dogs, while as little as 1 teaspoon can be fatal to cats.

When dogs or cats are exposed to ethylene glycol, immediate treatment is necessary.

 

 

Oak Toxin

OAK

Oak trees can be commonly found in our countryside and are easily recognised by the shape of their leaves and of course, by the acorns they produce.  The bark of an oak tree, along with the acorns leaves and buds can ALL cause illness by poisoning your dog.  The type of toxin found in all parts of the oak tree is Gallotanin, a compound containing 2 types of acid.

Symptoms of OAK intoxication.

The level of symptoms seen depends on how much is eaten.  They can cause symptoms resulting from the acidic toxin in the digestive system causing stomach upset, lack of appetite and vomiting.  The toxins can also cause kidney disease which can be seen as an increase in drinking and urination.  Your dog may also be lethargic and dehydrated.  The worse symptoms are usually seen in the autumn when inquisitive dogs eat many green acorns fallen from the tree branches.

We hope you find this article interesting – if you have any questions or think your dog may be suffering from any of the symptoms above.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Lida Vets day or night! We can be reached on 01638 560 000.

 

Grapes and raisins

Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute kidney failure. All types of grape- or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this. Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially severe acute renal failure (which develops several days later). The toxicity is not necessarily dose-dependent, and symptoms can occur with even small ingestions.

Treatment. The treatment includes supportive medication and care for the digestive system and the kidneys.  If only very mild symptoms from minor ingestion are seen, this may involve a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice.  However if your dog is not eating, showing signs of pain and vomiting, then medication may be needed.  Drugs to help reduce acid in the stomach, and to coat the digestive tract will help to ease the symptoms.  In severe cases intravenous fluids would be provided to help support the kidneys and ease gastrointestinal disease.

We hope you find this article interesting – if you have any questions or think your dog may be suffering from any of the symptoms above.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Lida Vets day or night! We can be reached on 01638 560 000.

 

Salt!

Believe it or not, common table salt is poisonous to your pet — but it’s not usually from table scraps. Pets often experience salt toxicity as a result of eating household play dough, swallowing too much ocean salt water or ingesting paint balls, which are loaded with salt.

Salt toxicity can be very severe and results in neurologic signs such as poor coordination, seizures and brain swelling, and needs to be treated carefully by a veterinarian.

Treatment for salt poisoning includes careful administration of IV fluids, electrolyte monitoring, treatment for dehydration and brain swelling, and supportive care.

We hope you find this article interesting – if you have any questions or think your dog may be suffering from any of the symptoms above.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Lida Vets day or night! We can be reached on 01638 560 000.

 

Chocolate

The component of chocolate causing toxicity is thebromine. It is present in its highest concentrate in cooking chocolate and dark chocolate compared to mild chocolate.

The signs of toxicity are increased heart rate, increased or decreased hyperactivity leading to seizures in severe cases.

Treatment is symptomatic and includes inducing vomiting promptly and supportive nursing care. Prognosis is favourable if only a small amount is consumed and rapid treatment is received.. Any abnormal heart rhythms need to be stabilised, respiration should be supported and seizures controlled.

We hope you find this article interesting – if you have any questions or think your dog may be suffering from any of the symptoms above.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Lida Vets day or night! We can be reached on 01638 560 000

 

Onions and garlic

Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are of the Allium family, and are poisonous to both dogs and cats. Garlic is considered to be about five times as potent as onions. Certain breeds and species seem to be more sensitive: Japanese breeds of dogs (e.g., Akita, Shiba Inu) and cats. Onion and garlic poisoning results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells (making the red blood cells more likely to rupture) and gastroenteritis (e.g., nausea, oral irritation, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea). Other clinical signs of anemia may be seen, and include lethargy, pale gums, an elevated heart rate, an increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, and collapse. Onion and garlic poisoning may have a delayed onset, and clinical signs may not be apparent for several days. While minute amounts of these foods in some pets, especially dogs, may be safe, large ingestions can be very toxic.

We hope you find this article interesting – if you have any questions or think your dog may be suffering from any of the symptoms above.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Lida Vets day or night! We can be reached on 01638 560 000

 

 

Mushrooms

There are several thousand species of mushrooms located throughout the UK, but only a small percentage is considered toxic. While the majority of mushrooms are considered non-toxic, some may result in severe clinical signs (even death). The majority of confirmed fatal mushroom toxicities in pets are secondary to mushrooms from the following genera: Amanita, Galerina, and Lepiota. Depending on the type/species of mushroom ingested, several general organ systems can be affected: hallucinogenic (e.g., visual disturbances), gastrointestinal (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea), central nervous system (e.g., ataxia, tremors, seizures, death), liver failure (e.g., vomiting, black-tarry stool, increased liver function blood tests, etc.), kidney failure failure (e.g., halitosis, anorexia, vomiting, inappropriate thirst or urination), etc.

In general, all mushroom ingestions in veterinary patients should be considered toxic unless accurate, rapid mushroom identification can occur. Clinical signs from mushroom poisoning are dependent on the species of mushroom ingested, the specific toxin within that mushroom, and the individual’s own susceptibility. Early clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, walking drunk, depression, tremors, and seizures, with liver and renal damage occurring later.

We hope you find this article interesting – if you have any questions or think your dog may be suffering from any of the symptoms above.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Lida Vets day or night! We can be reached on 01638 560 000

 

 

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