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The Essential Guide to Pets and Poisons

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As there is currently a spate of dog poisonings in the Kingsbury area we thought it would be a good idea to provide our essential guide to pet poisoning and what you should do if you think your pet might have been poisoned.

How do I know if my pet has been poisoned?

There’s a huge range of progressive symptoms, so picking it up early is crucial. As the person who knows your pet best, you’re most likely to notice when they’re not quite right.

Symptoms include:

  • Being ‘off colour’
  • Restlessness
  • Increased salivation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle twitching
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Collapsing

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What things are toxic to my pet?

There are plenty of everyday items that can be fatally toxic to our pets.

These include human chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins and, more specifically, macadamia nuts. These are, in fact, extremely toxic to dogs. Just as we might have problems with certain foods, animals are intolerant to foodstuffs such as dairy (so please don’t give your cat a bowl of milk to lap unless it’s special cat milk!).

Recently there have been some tragic cases of dogs dying as a result of eating e-cigarettes. Because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, they are seriously toxic to pets (as are actual cigarettes).

There are a number of plants which are also poisonous to pets. Lilies are very toxic to cats, whilst most garden plants carry some level of toxicity. Slug pellets are a frequent source of poisoning in pets, as what makes them delicious to slugs also makes them unfortunately delicious to dogs.

It’s not quite so relevant now as the weather is getting warmer but it’s ALWAYS worth mentioning just how toxic anti-freeze (which contains ethylene glycol) is to pets. Our animals, especially cats, find the taste of it irresistible but it’s horribly damaging and causes organ failure.

The Dogs Trust has a comprehensive list of plants and household items poisonous to your dog here. You might be surprised by just how long it is!

In the past couple of years there has also been growing awareness of a problem affecting dogs known as seasonal canine illness. This condition, which so far seems limited to 5 locations, has proved fatal for a number of dogs. You can find out more information from the Animal Health Trust’s fact sheet here.

It’s also very important that you never give your pet anything not specified as safe for that particular animal. eg. some dog flea products contain a substance called permethrin which is highly toxic to cats.

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What should I do if I suspect my pet has been poisoned?

First of all, stay calm!

Prompt treatment is essential. Please call your local vet for assistance and go straight there, explaining that it is an emergency.

Please don’t ‘wait and see’ or try to treat your pet yourself. If you have an idea of what your pet may have ingested, then please bring the packaging/remnants of this with you as this will be hugely useful in helping us treat your pet.

Quick treatment makes it more likely that your pet will survive and not suffer long term health damage.

What’s the best way to prevent my pet being poisoned?

There’s no way to ever protect your pet entirely.

Just think of them as a big furry baby – in the same way you might child-proof your home, consider about how to ‘pet-proof’ it to keep them away from dangers they could ingest or chew.

The authority on all things poisoning-related is the Veterinary Poisons Information Service. Visit their site here.

Posted March 21, 2014 in Pet Care Advice

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