Sunday, 4 August 2013

Do you know what could poison your pet?

Every so often a case comes into work that prompts me to write a blog post about it.  This time I decided to write about poisonous things that you may or may not know are poisonous, either in your house or when you're out walking the dog.

I used the BSAVA/VPIS Guide to Common Canine and Feline Poisons to help me.  It was put together by the BSAVA and the VPIS to aid Veterinary practices.  We can contact the VPIS at any time for advice on a case but they decided to put this book together using their most common cases.

Obviously, this list is very limited.  There are a great many poisonous things out there, and I've chosen to only list a few drugs but, generally speaking, if you're pet eats any of your medication you should contact your Vet as soon as possible.  Not every medication is bad but most of them can lead to problems, especially if ingested in excess.

I've also not listed any actual poisons, for example slug and rat bait, weed and plant killer.  I felt those were kind of obvious but in case they're not ...... THEY'RE POISONOUS!  If your pet ingests any of them or gets them on their coat, contact your Vet as soon as possible.

Another one I've not listed but is common, especially in the winter, is Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze), it is sweet tasting so pets want to lick it and it is EXTREMELY toxic to them.

As I said, this list is limited, I've tried to keep it to common and/or household toxins.  I'll be listing the onset times of clinical signs as well as what the clinical signs are.  In those lists there may be some words you don't know, I have made a list at the end of any words I think readers may have trouble with.  If there's a word you don't know and I haven't listed it at the end, let me know in the comments.

So on with the list, to keep it simple I'll be using the alphabet as my guide.


Alcohol (Ethanol) poisoning in dogs

Onset of clinical signs within 1-2 hours

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excitability & agitation then depression
  • Ataxia
  • Vocalisation
  • Drowsiness

Other signs are
  • Coma
  • Hyperthermia
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Urinary incontinence

Treatment of alcohol toxicity
  • Induction of emesis
  • Monitor & correct hypoglycaemia if present
  • Supportive care



Alkali poisoning in cats

Alkalis are present in a number of household products – drain cleaners, oven cleaners, paint stripper, dishwasher products

Onset of clinical signs soon after exposure (as quick as minutes), burns may be painless initially and not immediately evident. Burn onset is dependent on the concentration and volume of alkali and the duration of contact

Common signs are
With ingestion:
  • Burning pain in mouth, oesophagus & stomach
  • Swelling of lips
  • Vomiting
  • Haematemesis
  • Hypersalivation
  • Ulcerative mucosal burns
  • Dyspnoea
  • Dysphagia
  • Shock
Skin/eye contact:
  • Deep penetrating burns and necrosis

Other signs are
  • Acute complications such as gastrointestinal haemorrhage
  • Upper airway obstruction
  • Oesophageal stricture

Treatment of alkali toxicity or burns
With ingestion:
  • Oral fluids unless severe injury indicates otherwise
  • Endoscopy to assess degree of injury
  • Analgesia
  • Supportive care
Skin/eye contact:
  • Irrigation
  • Frequent pH testing and further irrigation if required
  • Supportive care



Caffeine toxicity in dogs

Onset of clinical signs within 1-3 hours

Dogs with cardiac disease are at a higher risk

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tachycardia
  • Ataxia
  • Tachypnoea
  • Hyperthermia
  • Diuresis
  • Dilated pupils
  • Polydipsia
  • Hyperaesthesia
  • Excitation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Twitching
  • Convulsions

Other signs are
  • Hypertension
  • Cyanosis
  • Coma

Treatment of caffeine toxicity
  • Oral activated charcoal
  • Hydration & anti-emetics if required
  • Treat hyperactivity and convulsions if required
  • Supportive care



Chocolate toxicity in dogs

Theobromine is the name of the toxic part of chocolate. The darker the chocolate the more Theobromine per gram. Dogs are also at risk from the use of cocoa shells instead of, for example, bark in gardens.

Onset of clinical signs usually within 4 hours, sometimes up to 24 hours

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Hypersalivation
  • Polydipsia
  • Polyuria
  • Excitability
  • Tachycardia (sometimes bradycardia)
  • Ataxia
  • Mild hypertension

Other signs are
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Tachypnoea
  • Hyperthermia
  • Cyanosis
  • Renal dysfunction

Treatment for chocolate toxicity if >9g/kg milk chocolate ingested or >1.25g/kg dark chocolate ingested
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Hydration & anti-emetics if required
  • Supportive care


Colchicium Autumnale ingestion in dogs (Wiki page on Colchicum Autumnale)

Alternative names
  • Colchicium
  • Autumn crocus
  • Meadow saffron

Onset of clinical signs within 48 hours

Common signs are
  • Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Hyperthermia
  • Renal impairment
  • Liver impairment

Other signs are
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Recumbency
  • Collapse
  • Shock secondary to gastrointestinal irritation

Treatment of colchicium autumnale ingestion
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Gut protectants
  • Repeated blood samples to check renal and hepatic function
  • Supportive care



Cordyline & Dracaena ingestion in cats (Wiki page on Cordyline and Wiki page on Dracaena)

Onset of clinical signs within a few hours

Common signs are
  • Hypersalivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Depression
  • Tachycardia
  • Ataxia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Dyspnoea

Other signs are
  • Renal failure
  • Jaundice
  • Hyperthermia

Treatment of cordyline and dracaena ingestion
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Repeated blood samples to check renal and hepatic function
  • Supportive care



Lily toxicity in cats

The pollen of the lily is the usual source of ingestion. If the pollen gets on the fur, the cat will then groom it off and ingest it but there is also a risk if the cat eats the petals.

Onset of clinical signs usually 2-6 hours, 24-72 hours for renal impairment to become apparent

Cats with pre-existing renal impairment are at higher risk

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Depression
  • Renal failure

Other signs are
  • Polyuria
  • Polydipsia
  • Pancreatitis
  • Convulsions

Treatment of lily toxicity
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Wash off any pollen on skin or fur
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor renal function
  • Supportive care



Nicotine toxicity in dogs

Onset of clinical signs within 15-90 minutes

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Hypersalivation
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Ataxia
  • Tremors
  • Tachycardia
  • Tachypnoea
  • Hypertension, followed by bradycardia
  • Hypotension

Other signs are
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

Treatment of nicotine toxicity
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Supportive care



Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drug toxicity in cats & dogs (Wiki page on NSAIDs)

Onset of clinical signs within 2-6 hours

Animals with dehydration, hypotension and/or pre-existing renal impairment are at higher risk

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Meleana
  • Haematemesis
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Ataxia
  • Inappetance
  • Polyuria
  • Polydipsia
  • Nausea
  • Pale or congested mucous membranes
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Renal failure
  • Gastric ulceration

Other signs are
  • Tremors
  • Drowsiness
  • Convulsions
  • Dyspnoea
  • Hyperaesthesia
  • Tachycardia

Treatment of NSAID toxicity
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor renal function
  • Gut protectants
  • Supportive care



Oak/Acorn ingestion in dogs

Onset of clinical signs within 1-24 hours

Common signs are
  • Retching
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Lethargy
  • Depression

Other signs are
  • Meleana
  • Haematemesis
  • Shaking
  • Urticaria
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Renal and liver damage

Treatment for oak/acorn toxicity
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Adequate hydration & anti-emetics if required
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor renal and hepatic function
  • Supportive care



Onion toxicity in dogs

Baby food has quite a high concentration of onions. I mention this because a lot of dog owners may use baby food to hide crushed tablets in.

Onset of clinical signs is sometimes within 24 hours but more common after several days

Japanese and Korean breeds are at a higher risk

Common signs are
  • Inappetance
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhoea
  • Heinz body anaemia

Other signs are
  • Jaundice

Treatment of onion toxicity
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor haematological parameters
  • Adequate hydration
  • Supportive care



Paracetamol toxicity in cats & dogs

As little as a single 500mg tablet is toxic to cats

Onset of clinical signs within 4-12 hours, liver impairment apparent within 24 hours

Cats that are malnourished, anorexic and on current treatment with enzyme inducing drugs are at a higher risk

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Brown mucous membranes
  • Tachycardia
  • Tachypnoea
  • Dyspnoea
  • Hypothermia
  • Facial & paw oedema (less common in cats)

Other signs are
  • Renal damage

Treatment of paracetamol toxicity
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor renal & hepatic function
  • Vitamin C
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Supportive care

Prognosis much more guarded in cats



Pot Pourri ingestion in dogs

Onset of clinical signs within 12 hours, sometimes 24-48 hours

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia,
  • diarrhoea
  • dehydration

Other signs are
  • Hypersalivation
  • Haemorrhagic diarrhoea
  • Collapse
  • Convulsions
  • Renal failure

Treatment for pot pourri ingestion
  • Adequate hydration & anti-emetics if required
  • Gut protectants
  • Analgesia
  • Supportive care



Quinine toxicity in dogs (Wiki page on Cinchona)

Quinine is in the bark of the Cinchona tree

Onset of clinical signs within 15 minutes – 2 hours

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia
  • Tachycardia
  • Hypotension
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperaesthesia
  • Tremors

Other signs are
  • Blindness
  • Collapse
  • Convulsions
  • Cyanosis

Treatment of quinine toxicity
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Adequate hydration
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor electrolytes
  • Treatment for convulsions
  • Intravenous fluids



Raisins/Grapes/Currants/Sultanas toxicity in dogs

Onset of clinical signs within 6-24 hours

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hypersalivation
  • Haematemesis
  • Bloody stools
  • Anorexia
  • Ataxia
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Acute renal failure

Other signs are
  • Haematuria
  • Polydipsia
  • Pancreatitis

Treatment of grape/raisin/currant/sultana toxicity
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor renal function
  • Supportive care



Salt toxicity in dogs

2-3g/kg of Sodium Chloride is enough to be considered toxic, ingestion of 4g/kg is considered lethal

Onset of clinical signs (vomiting) within a few minutes, (neurological) 1 – several hours

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Polydipsia
  • Dehydration
  • Ataxia
  • Weakness
  • Tachycardia
  • Tachypnoea
  • Neurological signs progress to seizures, coma & death if severe

Other signs are
  • Muscular rigidity
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Renal failure

Treatment of salt toxicity
  • Induction of emesis
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor blood glucose & renal function
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Supportive care



Tremorgenic Mycotoxin ingestion in dogs

These are fungal metabolites found in mouldy food

Onset of clinical signs 30 minutes – 3 hours

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Ataxia
  • Muscle tremors
  • Rigidity with hyperextension of extremities
  • Hyperactivity
  • Hyperaesthesia
  • Tachycardia
  • Panting
  • Tachypnoea
  • Nystagmus
  • Dilated pupils
  • In severe cases tremors, convulsions & coma

Other signs are
  • Risk of aspiration of vomit

Treatment of tremorgenic mycotoxin ingestion
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Adequate hydration & anti-emetics if required
  • Cooling if required
  • Treatment of convulsions
  • Supportive care



Vitamin D Compound ingestion in dogs

Commonly found in Psoriasis creams

Onset of clinical signs 6-12 hours

Dogs with pre-existing renal impairment are at a higher risk

Common signs are
  • Polydipsia
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Polyuria

Other signs are
  • Renal failure
  • Cardiac impairment
  • Shock

Treatment of Vitamin D ingestion
  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Adequate hydration & anti-emetics if required
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor renal function
  • Gut protectants



Xylitol ingestion in dogs

Commonly found in artificial sweeteners, chewing gum & nicotine replacement products. Food additive E967 stimulates insulin release & causes hypoglycaemia

Onset of clinical signs within 2 hours, hepatic effects can be delayed up to 72 hours

Common signs are
  • Vomiting
  • Tachycardia
  • Ataxia
  • Drowsiness
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Collapse

Other signs are
  • Liver failure

Treatment of xylitol ingestion

  • Induction of emesis & oral activated charcoal
  • Repeated blood tests to monitor blood glucose levels & hepatic function & treatment as required




DEFINITIONS

Again I've just went alphabetical to make it easier to look up

Anti-emetic – Drug to help stop vomiting
Ataxia – Lack of coordination. Wobbly and uncoordinated gait
Bradycardia – Slow heart rate
Cyanosis – Blue mucous membranes due to lack of Oxygen
Diuresis – Increased frequency of urination
Dysphagia – Difficulty eating/swallowing
Dyspnoea – Difficulty breathing
Haematemesis – Blood in vomit
Haematuria – Blood in urine
Hepatic – Relating to the liver
Hypoglycaemia – Low blood glucose levels
Hypothermia – Low temperature
Hyperaesthesia – Increased sensitivity to external stimuli
Hypersalivation – Increased salivation
Hypertension – Increased blood pressure
Hyperthermia – Increased temperature
Induction of emesis – Administer drugs to induce vomiting
Meleana – Black, tarry faeces usually associated with gastrointestinal haemorrhage
Mucous membranes – Gums, inside eyelids
Nystagmus – Flickering eyes, can be either horizontal or vertical
Oedema – Fluid accumulating under the skin where it shouldn't
Oesophageal stricture – Narrowing or tightening of the oesophagus
Polydipsia – Increased drinking
Polyuria – Increased urination
Renal – Relating to the kidney
Tachycardia – Fast heart rate
Tachypnoea – Fast respiration rate

Urticaria – Commonly referred to as Hives

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