Dr Christina Snow
Common autumn poisons
Autumn is particularly bad for pet poisonings. Easter brings a rise in chocolate and lollies, there is an increase in rat bait use as rats and mice start seeking warmth in our homes, and the rain makes it ideal for mushrooms to pop up in the backyard.
Please take care over this autumn period and watch out for these common poisons that might be found and ingested by your pet this time of year, and call us or the emergency centre immediately if you believe your pet has ingested any of the following:
Chocolate products contain toxic compounds referred to as methylxanthines such as theobromine and caffeine that can cause severe illness and even death. The amounts of toxic compounds vary greatly between products with dark chocolate, baking chocolate and cocoa powder holding the highest concentrations.
As an estimate, a 50g block of dark chocolate or baking chocolate (small chocolate bar size) could be fatal to a small dog. Whereas, a small amount of milk chocolate such as the size of a chocolate chip is usually not a problem.
If your dog has eaten any chocolate products, please call us as soon as possible and tell us the amount of chocolate that has been ingested so we can determine the likelihood of complications and action needed. Sometimes we need to induce vomiting in the clinic to remove the toxic products before damage is done.
Common signs of chocolate toxicity include twitching, vomiting, diarrhoea, panting and restlessness, ranging up to tremors, seizures and respiratory failure in severe cases.
Xylitol is a common natural sugar substitute, however for dogs it can be deadly. It can be found in chewing gum, lollies, mints, nasal sprays, and vitamins.
Xylitol poisoning can cause a severe drop in blood sugar levels and severe liver disease, with side effects seen within 30 minutes and 12 hours. Symptoms can include vomiting, incoordination, collapse, seizures and internal bleeding.
Contact us immediately if you believe your pet has eaten xylitol contaminated products, and bring the packaging in for us to check over.
Mushroom toxicity occurs commonly in late spring to autumn when pets spend time outdoors. When environmental conditions are right, mushrooms can pop up overnight, especially when conditions are moist are wet. Dogs are natural explorers and scavengers so they are at highest risk of mushroom toxicity. Mushrooms can be highly toxic and ingestion can cause cause of range of problems ranging from hallucinations, salivating, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, liver failure, kidney failure and even death.
Rat bait poisoning can occur if a pet has directly ingested rat poison or possibly if it has ingested a rodent that may have eaten the poison. The most common rat bait poison interferes directly with the animal’s ability to clot blood, and generally takes 3-7 days before vague clinical signs are seen, such as weakness, bleeding from the nasal or oral cavity, breathing difficulties, bruising or lameness.
If you suspect your pet has eaten rat bat call us immediately. Sometimes a blood test is required to assess the clotting ability of the bloods, and often vitamin K1 tablets are needed to be given for a length of time as the antidote. In severe cases a blood transfusion may be required.
Most lilies cause some form of illness, more commonly serious kidney disease with just a couple of nibbles from the leaves or petals. For this reason, it is recommended that lilies are not kept in homes where there are also cats. On the other hand, some lilies such as the Calla lily and Peace Lily cause stomach upsets such as vomiting and diarrhoea and the Lily of the Valley may affect the heart and lead to seizures.
Symptoms after ingestion of lilies may include drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite, eventually leading to kidney failure. Blood testing and intravenous fluid therapy may be needed if your pet is suspected of eating a lily.