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Common Small Animal Poisons

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					Common Small Animal Poisons

Many plants, foods and chemicals are toxic to your pet. The following are some of the
more common poisons we treat animals for in our emergency department. If you suspect
your pet has eaten one of these, or any other substance, call your veterinarian. If your
animal is showing any signs of distress or illness, take them to a vet immediately. Bringing
the packaging of the product ingested can aid in diagnosis and treatment, so when
possible, always bring this with you to the veterinarian.

Permethrin toxicity
Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethrin derivative. It is an insecticide used in flea control
products, in insecticide sprays, and is approved for human use. It comes as shampoos,
dips, foggers, top-spots (or spot-ons) and in sprays. Any animal can have a hypersensitivity
reaction to the top-spot products, which may be treated by bathing or with medications
from your veterinarian. Permethrins appear to be relatively safe in dogs, though smaller
dogs have a greater risk of toxicity.

Cats have a greater risk of toxicosis as their liver cannot metabolise permethrin. Cat
products therefore have much lower concentrations than those approved for dogs, and
cats receive toxic doses when dog products are applied or when they groom or come into
close contact with recently treated dogs. Individuals are affected to varying degrees and
signs include tremoring, seizures, salivation, depression, vomiting and death.

Snail bait
Ingredients that make the pellets attractive to snails tend to make them attractive to dogs,
and so this is a relatively common poisoning. Only small amounts are required to cause
clinical signs which appear relatively soon after ingestion. The most common sign noticed
is tremoring which progresses to seizure activity and possibly death. Dogs may vomit,
have diarrhoea and go into respiratory distress. The dog’s temperature gets dangerously
high and if not treated immediately and aggressively can lead to brain and other vital
organ damage.

Rodenticide toxicity/Rat bait
Most rodenticides are anticoagulants – they stop blood from clotting. There are many
products on the market, and each can last in your pet’s system for different time periods.
They cause bleeding disorders in your pet by preventing the formation of Vitamin K-
dependent clotting factors. The clinical signs depend on the site of bleeding (e.g. laboured
breathing if bleeding into the chest) but the actual bleeding may not occur until a few
days after ingestion of the rodenticide as the body has some Vitamin K stores. Once these
stores are used, the animal will bleed profusely, and sometimes from sites you cannot see.
This often leads to a delayed presentation and diagnosis which means even with the most
aggressive treatment and repeated blood transfusions, some animals will die. Never wait
until to see if your pet bleeds if you suspect it has eaten rat poison.
Take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
Chocolate
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine which can harm your pet's heart and
kidneys, induce vomiting, diarrhoea and seizures depending on the amount ingested. It is
important to note the type and amount of chocolate your pet has ingested so your vet
knows whether emergency treatment is required.
Signs of toxicity may include vomiting, hyperactivity, rapid breathing, cardiac
arrhythmias, weakness and seizures

Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID)
NSAIDs are used to treat pain in both people and animals. The drug concentrations in
human medications means it is very easy for your pet to receive a toxic dose from just one
tablet/capsule. If your pet's health is already compromised (e.g. undiagnosed kidney
disease), these drugs are toxic at even lower doses.
Signs of toxicity may include inappetance, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, depression

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
Brunfelsia australis is a common garden shrub. Its purple-blue flowers fade to pale grey-
blue then white. The berries are the toxic part of the plant, mature in autumn and are
reported to be attractive to dogs.
Signs of toxicity may include vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive urination, ataxia, tremors,
convulsions, rigidity and excitement.

Lily intoxication
Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum), tiger lilies (Lilium tigrinum), rubrum or Japanese showy
lilies (Lilium speciosum and Lilium lancifolium), and various day lilies (Hemerocallis
species) have been shown to cause acute renal failure and death in cats. Any contact with
lilies should be considered toxic as even minor exposures are toxic. Even if initial
vomiting subsides after a few hours, immediate and aggressive veterinary treatment is
required as delaying treatment beyond 18 hours frequently results in death or euthanasia
due to severe renal failure.

Onions, garlic & chives
All parts of these plants are toxic & toxicosis from dried and powdered plant material has
been reported. The main toxic principle is n-propyl disulfide which damages red blood
cells resulting in the haemolytic anaemia seen with these toxicities. Decontamination and
supportive therapy are required and blood transfusions and treatment of
methaemoglobinaemia (which is incapable of binding and carrying oxygen).




Please contact the Animal Referral Hospital (02) 9758-8666 for more information about this or
any other conditions - we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergencies and critical
patient care.

				
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Description: Common Small Animal Poisons