Poisoning may not be one of the first things that you consider when it comes to dangers for your cat or dog, but actually, poisoning is one of the primary reasons for emergency visits to veterinarians in the United States. This is because there are many different substances that have been proven to be toxic to animals, and many owners are unaware of the dangers that they pose. Your vet will be able to provide comprehensive information about exactly which common household substances could pose a risk to your dog or cat, but some of the biggest triggers of pet poisoning include:
- Certain human foods including chocolate, candy, grapes and raisins, onions and chives, avocado, nuts and anything containing alcohol or caffeine
- Human medications
- Cleaning chemicals
- Some plants and flowers
Here’s what you need to know about the top signs of poisoning in dogs and cats, and what you should do if you suspect that your pet has been affected.
The signs of poisoning in dogs and cats can vary significantly depending on the type and amount of poison that has been consumed. They may also vary depending on how your pet has come into contact with the toxin. Some of the top signs of poisoning to be aware of are as follows:
If your pet has inhaled a poison, they may experience:
- Respiratory problems such as rapid or shallow breathing
The majority of poisoning scenarios are caused by curious pets tasting and ingesting toxins. If this happens, signs of poisoning to be aware of include:
- Obvious stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
Some toxins will only come into contact with your pet’s skin. If this happens, some of the symptoms you could expect your pet to experience could include:
- Skin irritation
- Swelling (hives)
- Excessive scratching of the area
- Obvious discomfort or agitation
If you have any reason to suspect that your pet has been poisoned, the first thing that you should do is call your emergency vet or the pet poison helpline to obtain advice. Some people may be tempted to try and induce vomiting if they believe their pet to have ingested the toxin, but this should never be attempted without the specific instruction of your veterinarian. Doing so could cause more harm than good.
Your vet or the pet poison helpline will want to know what toxin your pet has been on contact with and, if possible, the amount that your pet has ingested or been exposed to. They may also ask for the approximate weight of your pet as this will help them to determine how significantly your pet may be affected. They will then be able to give you specific advice as to the best way to help your pet. This could include any of the following steps:
- Exposing your cat or dog to fresh air if they have been poisoned by fumes
- Rinsing or washing your pet if their skin has been in contact with a toxic substance
- Getting to see your vet as quickly as possible
For more information and advice on pet poisoning, please get in touch with our animal hospital.