Every year there are thousands of poison center calls and emergency visits for pet poisonings in this country. These poisonings may be easily reversed, may lead to some type of permanent damage or they may even end in death in some cases. Therefore, if possible prevention or quick treatment is of the utmost importance to the health of your pet.


The best way to avoid many pet poisonings is to prevent or eliminate the possibility of exposure to these products. The problem arises because many people do not know or recognize these toxins as they can be as simple as a misplaced coin, prescription medicine, some type of common everyday food, or something as simple as a bee, toad

Simple everyday toad which emits neurotoxins when licked.

or snake that may never even be seen by you until your pet exhibits signs of a problem which may not occur for several hours to days after the exposure.

Types Of Poisons

  • Human prescription medicines such as antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, children’s ADHD drugs and now medical marijuana can cause a variety of problems.
    Marijuana can be toxic especially when baked into desserts.

    These can cause many different symptoms depending on which medicine is taken, what quantity as well as the size and type of pet that is affected. You can see vomiting, diarrhea, a decrease in body temperature, heart rate, an increase or decrease in blood sugar levels which may lead into seizure activity or even death.

  • Pet prescription or over the counter medicines such as pain relievers, joint supplements, flea and tick medicines, or dewormers can even cause problems sometimes. Problems with many of these are using an improper or too high a dosage although some animals may have reactions to the correct dose. Just like us, they can have allergic reactions to a number of medications. Signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, body swelling, itchy skin reactions and even seizures.
  • Household products are often overlooked as possible pet poisons, but we have all seen the “crazy” pup, dog or even cat that will lick or chew on anything. These may include day-to-day cleaners, bleach, detergents, paint thinners, chemicals for swimming pools, fire logs, antifreeze and even batteries and pens (the ink is toxic). Keeping a variety of chew toys and activity areas for some pets will help to keep them from getting into trouble with possible toxic substances within your house or yard. The usual rodenticides (rat and mice bait) are commonly known, but often neighbors will put them out without thinking about your animals as well as lawn and garden products which may have toxic ingredients. Signs seen with these are similar to what was listed above with the other toxins but are often topical and cause only skin reactions.
  • Plants, both inside and out, can be very serious pet poisons as often both the leaves and bulbs have toxic properties.
    Many flower bulbs have toxic ingredients.

    Among these are azaleas, rhododendrons, tulips, daffodils, crocus, amaryllis, oleander, dieffenbachia and sago palms. Signs with these usually include vomiting and seizures.

  • Human foods as well as some pet treats can be toxic. The pet treats and food are usually minor problems with mild vomiting often from chemical additives. Again, with our foods, people often are not aware of the potential problems for our pets. Among these are chocolate, onions, garlic, alcohol, grapes and raisins, xylitol in food products such as diet products and chewing gums and may be in some children’s liquid medicines. A variety of symptoms are seen depending on what and how much is ingested as well as the size of the pet involved.

Evaluating the Signs of Pet Poisoning

The importance of evaluating the signs of the pet poisoning are extremely invaluable and may mean the difference between pet recovery or death. The earlier a problem is seen or detected, the better the outcome usually is. If a substance is ingested and noticed within a few hours, inducing vomiting with hydrogen peroxide

A typical label for hydrogen peroxide.

is a good idea as long as it was not a corrosive substance such as kerosene and the pet is having no problems breathing. The best plan of action is often taking any package if it is available, any vomitus and seeking treatment at an emergency clinic.

Seeking Treatment for Pet Poisonings

Often if the substance is a pet or human product, there will be an emergency contact number on the package in case of accidental ingestion. As long as the pet is not having problems breathing, seizuring or comatose, you may want to call this number for help.

One type of treatment for some toxicities.

If you are unsure of what the pet has ingested or been exposed to, there are several poison control hot lines you can call, although most will charge a small fee for advice. Among these are ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-213-6680 or visiting your nearest veterinary emergency clinic may be your best option.

Pet Proofing Your Home

Not all toxins are clearly labelled.

Many pet poisons can be avoided if some precautions are taken. I like to think of pet proofing your home the same as you would childproof your home for a toddler. In other words, keep ALL medications high enough up, in a cupboard or in a medicine cabinet that cannot be reached by them, keep ALL household cleaners as well as certain plants out of their reach, fencing your yard so that they cannot leave it to come into contact with neighbor’s property or other animals. Also watch what plants, flowers or shrubs are in your location inside and out. Even some things that weren’t mentioned above such as coins (can cause zinc toxicity) and toads (licking them can cause hypersalivation and may lead to seizure activity) are hard to control as are bees and snakes, but if you control what you can and watch where and what your pets are around, many pet poisonings can be avoided altogether.