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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