For the love of your pet: Top toxins in pets

By Shana Bohac
Feb. 6, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 5, 2014 at 8:06 p.m.

We see pet poisoning on a regular basis, and it is a true medical emergency. Some of the most dangerous poisons are food and medications that are perfectly safe for humans.

Depending on the toxin, your dog could experience anything from gastrointestinal problems, cardiac issues, neurological abnormalities, respiratory distress, coma or even death.

Prescription medications for people can be very harmful to our pets. A few medications that have very serious effects include anti-inflammatory and pain medications, which can cause severe stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure.

Antidepressants can cause vomiting, seizures and increases in temperature, heart rate or blood pressure. Blood pressure medication can cause a significant drop in your dog's blood pressure that can lead to coma and death.

Insecticides for your yard, home or even for your pet can be potentially harmful if ingested. They can cause severe neurological signs including muscle tremors, hypersalivation, lack of coordination and seizures. Other things you may see include vomiting, diarrhea, depression and increased heart rate.

Some household products such as antifreeze, paint thinner, cleaners, fire logs and pool chemicals can be very harmful to pets. Ingestion of any of these substances can cause upset stomach, respiratory problems, depression, chemical burn, seizures or death.

Antifreeze can cause a drunken state, uncoordinated movements, vomiting, excessive urination, diarrhea, weakness, fainting, rapid heart rate, seizure and/or coma.

There are a variety of groceries that can be potentially harmful to your pet. Chocolate contains a substance that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in small doses, but at larger doses, it can cause rapid breathing, drooling, increased heart rate, hyperactivity, seizures, cardiac failure, weakness and coma.

Dark chocolate contains a much higher dose of the toxin; therefore, it takes a lot less to cause significant side effects. Alcohol, avocados, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and the artificial sweetener xylitol can all be very toxic to your pet as well.

There are certain indoor and outdoor plants that can be toxic to your pet. Azaleas and rhododendrons contain toxins that cause vomiting, diarrhea, coma and possibly even death. Tulips, certain lilies and daffodils can cause gastrointestinal issues, kidney failure and convulsions. Sago palms, including the seeds, can cause vomiting, seizures and liver failure.

Rodenticides, if ingested, can be potentially deadly. It is also possible for your pet to get sick by ingesting another animal that was poisoned. Symptoms of rodenticide poisoning may not start for days, and you will typically see weakness, laziness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, collapse, incoordination and sudden death.

If you think your pet has accidently ingested any of the above items or something else you are concerned may be toxic, please contact your veterinarian immediately. It is better to be safe than sorry.

We are always available for after-hour emergencies at 361-573-6131. If you have any questions regarding potential household toxins, check out the link on or feel free to contact me at

Dr. Shana Bohac has a veterinary practice at Hill crest Animal Hospital in Victoria. She works on both small animals and equine patients. Submit questions to



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