For FDA Recall Information:

Poisonous Plants Inside the House

 Possible Pet Poisons Around the House, Barn or Garden


     There are times where we see a poisoning case and cannot easily diagnose the type of poison immediately.  Most animal poisoning cases do not have a diagnosis if there is only one patient involved and that patient responds to the various supportive therapies.  To run a poison screen of the urine at a human toxicology lab costs approximately $300.00 (2000), and the screen does not diagnose the toxin.  The results take over a day, and by this time we usually know how the patient is responding to the therapy we have initiated.  Should the screening indicate it is a drug then a specific drug test is over $100 each.  Our routine blood tests we do for sickness, such as a complete blood count and serum chemistries, may help us determine if the toxin is affecting the liver, but it will not determine the type of product.

     Ingested poisons are commonly seen in pets.  The common household rodent poisonings cause bleeding problems.  Antifreeze poisonings cause kidney failure.  Any animal who ingests a possible poison should be examined promptly and/or a call to the veterinarian.  If treated before any signs develop the success rate is much, much higher.   There are many types of poisonous plants in our house and yard, fortunately most cause only intestinal upsets.  Foxglove, larkspur, lupine, nightshades, Jerusalem cherry, and most of the bulb plants can cause serious poisonings.  Some bushes and trees are toxic such as yew, oleander, Chinaberry, the caster and Kentucky coffee bean plants.  If you looked at the poisonous plants for household and garden you will find almost half are listed.  For more information we have other handouts regarding only plant poisonings.  The polyacrylamide soil gel can cause a dangerous intestinal blockage if ingested.  Molds, mushrooms, food poisonings, algae and toxic bacteria have similar signs to an insecticide poisoning.  We can see poisonings from heavy metals as a result of an animal eating or chewing on a product weeks ago.  There are many chemical compounds, batteries (especially lithium) and other materials too numerous to individually list.   Chewing on treated lumber can cause toxicities related to arsenic, copper or chromium.  Bleaching treated lumber will cause it to become even more toxic.  Treated lumber should not be used in building and/or animal areas where they are allowed to chew on wood.  The expanding foams and glues are toxic, especially if the dog eats the products before they set up/expand.  Sanding to reseal treated lumber can cause an animal or human toxicity.  Giving one Tylenol tablet to a cat can cause a severe poisoning problem.  Rodenticides intoxication usually causes seizures, diarrhea or salivation problems.  Snail and slug bait can also cause similar seizuring problems.  Mothball ingestion can cause sickness, seizures and/or anemia.  Ingestion of paintballs can become a problem in dogs.  If you use ant traps we recommend the safer avermectin products.  Warfarin rat poisoning causes bleeding problems.  Nicotine from patches and gum can cause problems if they ingested over 20 mg.  Chocolate and Macadamia nuts for humans is a poisonous substance to animals.  The sugar-free sweetener, xylitol, it toxic to pets; this includes the sugar free gums with this product.  The cold medicine with pseudoephedrine, at > 1 mg/#, can cause hyperactive type signs death.  For the flavored/chewable pet medicines we recommend that you keep only a small amount out and leave most of these medicines up high and out of reach.  Play dough, if ingested in large quantities, can cause salt toxicity.  The dough artifact/molds you bake also may contain very high concentrations of salt.  Garlic can be toxic to horses and dogs, including garlic extract.  Some herbal medicines, especially the essential oils, can be toxic to pets.  Many of the liquid potpourri products contain essential oils.  Onions can cause toxicity problems to horses and cats.  Grapes and raisins can be toxic to dogs and pocket pet herbivores.  Bread dough can even ferment, produce alcohol and cause toxic problems if ingested by dogs.  Brewing hops, cocoa mulch and/or fermented compost also causes toxicity if ingested.  The cattle feeds containing xenobiotics (ionophores, Rumensin) are toxic to horses, dogs and cats.  

     Contact poisons are those which are absorbed through the skin, and are not very common in comparison to ingested poisons.  Although if misapplied quite a few apparently safe products, such as some dog organophosphate flea and coal-tar skin products are toxic to kittens.  Always read the label for the species or application method on the label.  If toxic to another species the manufacturer does not have to state why, because the person was misusing the product.   Most herbicide, petroleum products, insecticides, solvents and household chemical poisonings are a result of the animal walking through the chemical, then cleaning them self later.  Benzyl alcohol is toxic, but rarely do animals ingest this chemical.  If one does use insecticides or products with this alcohol, and then places the patient into a plastic carrier, a chemical reaction of the plastic and benzyl alcohol can cause the animal to stick to the crate.

     Inhaled toxins are fairly rare.  Some species are more sensitive than others.  Did you realize a Teflon-type pan, which burned a few days ago, can cause death in your bird today?

     We have many handouts on specific poisons, when we are able to diagnose them.  It is not easy to accurately diagnose a poisoning until sample tests are back from the laboratory, unless we happen to find the poison nearby.  Poisoning cases can be very frustrating for all of us.  The specific antidotes may do more harm than good if the patient did not have that type of poisoning.  Patients who have ingested acids, oils, alkaline solutions or tranquilizers and drugs that have calmed the patient should not be induced to vomit.  For those products you know the patient has ingested within the last 30 minutes or less, such as wild mushrooms or chocolate, etc, you can try to induce vomiting.  At home you can use 1 teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Ipecac syrup per average size dog to induce vomiting; you can repeat in 5-10 minutes if there is no emesis and/or try another product.  A teaspoon of salt or dry mustard in the back of the mouth can also produce emesis.  Animals that are very sick or depressed should not be induced to vomit.  If you gave the stronger strength of peroxide, used an excessive amount, the patient swallowed the peroxide and has stomach pain,  or if the patient is comatosed after giving an excess of peroxide then please call and mention this to us.  After inducing vomiting we can then examine the patient and use activated charcoal and other products to help absorb toxins.     If you know the animal has ingested a poisonous compound and two doses of peroxide or ipecac syrup has not induced vomiting, the patient needs to be seen so we can induce vomiting if it has been under 0.5-1.5 hours after ingestion.  If you ever have questions on a product a national pet poisoning hot line is 1-888-232-8870 or 888-426-4435.  (If you need the human poison control their number is 800-222-1222 or 877-800-5554.  The human service will not answer animal questions, while the animal poison control will refer you for human poisonings).


The Staff at the Nelson Road Veterinary Clinic