Poison Control & Pet Toxins

Lists of Common Animal Toxins and What to Do

Poison Control Hotlines

Always have on hand  your veterinarian’s number, the number of an emergency clinic, and the number for the Poison Control Center. Before you call, note the time your pet was exposed to the toxin, the type of product ingested, the manufacturer’s name and any ingredients you can find listed on packaging.

ASPCA Ani-Med 1.888.721.9100

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 1.888.426.4435

National Animal Poison Control Center 1.800.548.2423

If you need to speak to a veterinarian there, this service will be billed to a credit card. An alternate number is (900) 680-0000. A veterinarian’s services on this line will cost a flat fee for the first five minutes, and an additional fee per minute for each additional minute. These charges will be billed to your phone bill. (Call them for current pricing)

Pet Lover’s Helpline 1.900.776.0007

Tuft University School of Veterinary Medicine 508.839.5395

Toxic Human Medication

If you suspect your pet has ingested any of the following items, immediately call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435. Remember to keep all medications tucked away in bathroom cabinets—and far from curious cats and dogs.

NSAIDs  (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen or naproxen are the most common cause of pet poisoning in small animals, and can cause serious problems even in minimal doses. Pets are extremely sensitive to their effects, and may experience stomach and intestinal ulcers and—in the case of cats—kidney damage.

Antidepressants  can cause vomiting and lethargy and certain types can lead to serotonin syndrome—a condition marked by agitation, elevated body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, disorientation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.

Acetaminophen Cats are especially sensitive to acetaminophen, which can damage red blood cells and interfere with their ability to transport oxygen. In dogs, it can cause liver damage and, at higher doses, red blood cell damage.

Methylphenidate (for ADHD) Medications used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in people act as stimulants in pets and can dangerously elevate heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature, as well as cause seizures.

Fluorouracil —an anti-cancer drug—is used topically to treat minor skin cancers and solar keratitis in humans. It has proven to be rapidly fatal to dogs, causing severe vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest even in those who’ve chewed on discarded cotton swabs used to apply the medication.

Isoniazid Often the first line of defense against tuberculosis, isoniazid is particularly toxic for dogs because they don’t metabolize it as well as other species. It can cause a rapid onset of severe seizures that may ultimately result in death.

Pseudoephedrine is a popular decongestant in many cold and sinus products, and acts like a stimulant if accidentally ingested by pets. In cats and dogs, it causes elevated heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature as well as seizures.

Anti-diabetics Many oral diabetes treatments—including glipizide and glyburide—can cause a major drop in blood sugar levels of affected pets. Clinical signs of ingestion include disorientation, lack of coordination and seizures.

Vitamin D derivatives Even small exposures to Vitamin D analogues like calcipotriene and calcitriol can cause life-threatening spikes in blood calcium levels in pets. Clinical signs of exposure—including vomiting, loss of appetite, increased urination and thirst due to kidney failure—often don’t occur for more than 24 hours after ingestion.

Baclofen s a muscle relaxant that can impair the central nervous systems of cats and dogs. Some symptoms of ingestion include significant depression, disorientation, vocalization, seizures and coma, which can lead to death.

Common toxins

Chocolate/Caffeine: Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and diuretic. After their pet has eaten a large quantity of chocolate, many pet owners assume their pet is unaffected. However, the signs of sickness may not be seen for several hours, with death following within twenty-four hours. Symptoms include staggering, labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, fever, heart rate increase, arrhythmia, seizures, coma, death. Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. A 10-kilogram dog can be seriously affected after ingesting a quarter of a 250gm packet of cocoa powder or half of a 250gm block of cooking chocolate. These forms of chocolate contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Thus, a chocolate mud cake could be a real health risk for a small dog. Even licking a substantial part of the chocolate icing from a cake can make a dog unwell. Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous forms, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous. A dog needs to eat more than a 250gm block of milk chocolate to be affected. Obviously, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to eat.

Onions/Garlic: Onions and garlic contain the toxic ingredient thiosulphate. Onions are more of a danger. Pets affected by onion toxicity will develop haemolytic anaemia, where the pet’s red blood cells burst while circulating in its body. Symptoms include Hemolytic Anemia, labored breathing, liver damage, vomiting, diarrhea, discolored urine. The poisoning occurs a few days after the pet has eaten the onion. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. Left over pizza, Chinese dishes and commercial baby food containing onion, sometimes fed as a supplement to young pets, can cause illness. While garlic also contains the toxic ingredient thiosulphate, it seems that garlic is less toxic and large amounts would need to be eaten to cause illness.

Grapes/Raisins: As few as a handful of raisins or grapes can make a dog/cat ill. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy.

Macadamia Nuts: Macadamia nuts have a high phosphorus content that can possibly lead to bladder stones. Dogs develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. Affected dogs are often unable to rise and are distressed, usually panting. Some affected dogs have swollen limbs and show pain when the limbs are manipulated.

Bones from fish, poultry, or other meat sources: Can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system. Cooked bones splinter EVEN MORE.

Milk and other dairy products: Some adult dogs and cats do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea. Lactose-free milk products are available for pets.

Raw Eggs: Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella.

Xylitol (found in  sugar free foods): This commonly used sweetener can cause liver failure in dogs and kill them. Ingesting even a small amount of xylitol, found in many sugar-free foods can trigger significant insulin release, which drops their blood sugar and can be fatal.  Xylitol is found in many sugar-free chewing gums, candies, baked goods and toothpastes. Ingesting even a small amount can trigger significant insulin release, which drops their blood sugar and can be fatal.

Toxic foods & plants

Alcohol (all alcoholic beverages, ethanol, methanol, isopropyl)

Almonds*

Apples seeds

Apricots*

Avocado*

Broccoli (in large amounts)

Cherry pits

Chocolate (all types)*

Coffee grounds, beans & tea (caffeine)

Figs

Garlic*

Grapes

Hops (used in home brewing)

Macadamia Nuts

Milk

Mouldy/spoiled foods

Mushrooms

Nutmeg

Onions*

Peaches*

Pear seeds

Plum seed/pit

Potato (leaves & stem, peelings, and unripe green potatoes)

Raisins

Rhubarb leaves*

Sugar Free items with Xylitol (see below)***

Tomatoes (leaves & stem, and green tomatoes)

Walnut hulls

Yeast dough

Plants which are toxic and/or poisonous to pets:

Almonds*

Amaryllis bulb*

Andromeda

Anthuriaum*

Apple seeds (contain cyanide)

Apricot*

Arrowgrass

Autumn crocus (Colchicum Autumnale)*

Avocado (leaves, seeds, stem, skin)* (fatal to birds)

Azalea (entire rhododendron family)

Begonia*

Bird of Paradise

Bittersweet

Bleeding heart*

Boxwood

Bracken fern

Buckeye

Buttercup (Ranunculus)

Caffeine

Caladium*

Calla lily*

Castor bean or castor oil plant* (can be fatal if chewed)

Cherry pits (contain cyanide)

Cherry Chinese sacred or heavenly bamboo*

Chocolate Choke cherry, unripe berries*

Chrysanthemum (a natural source of pyrethrins)

Clematis

Crocus bulb

Croton (Codiaeum sp.)

Crown of Thorns

Daffodil

Daphne

Delphinium, larkspur, monkshood*

Dieffenbachia

Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)*

Elderberry, unripe berries*

Elephant Ear

English ivy (All Hedera species of ivy)

Fig (Ficus)

Four-o’clocks (Mirabilis)

Foxglove (Digitalis)*

Garlic*

Grapes/raisins

Hemlock

Hemp

Hyacinth bulbs

Hydrangea*

Holly berries

Iris corms

Jack-in-the-pulpit*

Jasmine

Jerusalem Cherry, Winter Cherry (Solanum pseudocarpum)

Jimsonweed* (Datur stramonium, D. metaloides, D. arborea)

Kalanchoe*

Lantana*

Larkspur

Laurel

Lily (bulbs of most species)

Lily (Easter Lily, Tiger Lily)

Lily-of-the-Valley*

Locoweed

Lupine species

Marigold

Marijuana or hemp (Cannabis)

Milkweed*

Mistletoe berries*

Monkshood

Morning Glory*

Mostera, aka Split-Leaf Philodendron or Swiss Cheese Plant

Mountain laurel

Mushrooms & Toadstools (various)

Narcissus, daffodil

Nettles

Nightshade (various species)

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)

Oak* (remove bark for use as a bird perch)

Oleander*

Onions*

Peaches*

Pear seeds

Pencil cactus/plant* (Euphorbia sp.)

Periwinkle (Vinca rosea)

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii)

Philodendron (all species)*

Plum pit/seed

Poinsettia (many hybrids, avoid them all)

Poison Ivy

Potato (leaves & stem, peelings, unripe green potatoes)

Precatory Beans (Crabs Eye, Rosary Pea, Jequirity Bean) Used in jewelry. Extremely toxic when seedcoat is broken, as it is when the seeds are strung

Privet

Rhodedendron

Rhubarb leaves*

Rosary Pea (Arbus sp.) (can be fatal if chewed)

Scheffelera (umbrella plant)*

Shamrock (Oxalis sp.)*

Skunk Cabbage

Snow-on-the-Mountain

Spurge (Euphorbia sp.)

Tobacco

Tomatoes (leaves & stem, green tomatoes)

Tulip

Walnut hulls

Water Arum

Wisteria

Yew*