Toxic to Dogs

There are many substances that can be poisonous to our dogs, some you might expect and others you may not. Here is a selection of substances that, as dog owners and lovers, we need to be aware of.

ANTIFREEZE (Ethylene Glycol)
This maybe an obvious one but our vets see many cases of poisoning from this one. It has a sweet taste and can be easily licked up by our inquisitive canines. It will cause extreme vomiting and is quickly fatal, causing damage to the kidneys.

Clinical signs include depression, restlessness, loss of co-ordination or clumsiness, convulsions and coma.

Many houseplants can be toxic. Some of the more common poisonous ones include; Amaryllis, Bleeding heart, caster oil plant (which is very toxic) Dumb Cane (another very dangerous one) any bulbs, Foxglove, Lily of the Valley, Stinging Nettles, Mushrooms, Rhubarb, the bark from any of the following is also very dangerous, Hemlock, Privet, Rhododendron, Wisteria. Horse Chestnut, Ivy, Yew. The list is quite exhaustive; it is safer to not allow your dog to chew on any leaves or wood when out and about on walks.

Signs of poisoning include; omitting drowsiness, diarrhea, Trembling, abdominal pain, weakness, breathing difficulties and heart failure. Veterinary opinion should always be sought.

Bee and Wasp stings can produce an anaphylactic reaction as in humans. Immediate veterinary attention is required as this condition can rapidly lead to death. If the tongue or mouth is stung veterinary attention will be required to reduce any ensuing swelling that may block the airway. If the sting can be found it is useful to try to remove it with tweezers. Common sting sties are the face, mouth and paws as the dog tries to catch the insect. Bee stings should be bathed with a solution of Bicarbonate of Soda, Wasp stings will benefit from Vinegar. A close eye must be kept on the dog for any signs of swelling, in some cases the dog will come up in hives and have a general ‘itchiness’ the vet will be able to administer a steroid for help with this.

Symptoms to watch out for include; vomiting, diarrhea swelling, breathing difficulties, and worse case scenario, collapse.

Berries that are commonly found in the garden may be poisonous to the dog. Plants are always attractive to dogs, especially puppies. Mistletoe, Holly, and Laburnum are toxic. Bulbs like Daffodils and snowdrops are also toxic, dogs that enjoy the odd bit of gardening and digging may eat them once found, also be aware when storing bulbs and tubers.

Oleander is “everywhere” down here, and according to the humane society is highly toxic with only about twenty minutes to act if eaten.

This gas can be emitted from car exhausts, or old, gas fires, which have not been serviced for a long time. This too of course affects people.

Signs to look for include; Weakness, lethargy, breathing difficulties, a blue tinge to the gums or tongue, and collapse.

All forms of chocolate are toxic to dogs, hot chocolate, chocolate cakes, biscuits, and cocoa. The toxin in chocolate is Theo bromine. Theo bromine is found in the cocoa bean, the amount of Theo bromine is dependant on the type of chocolate, dark chocolate is richer and contains more than milk, or white.

It may harm the heart, kidneys and the central nervous system, and the effect is serious. Signs of Theo bromine poisoning include; nausea and vomiting, restlessness, hyperactivity, diarrhea, muscle tremors, lethargy, depression, increase in urination or incontinence, finally if left untreated death may occur.

Nicotine in Cigars and cigarettes is toxic to a dog. It is also possible for a dog to become addicted to nicotine. Clinical signs of nicotine poisoning include; drooling, vomiting, possibly abdominal pain, twitching, and or muscle weakness.

Many household cleaners including bleach, cleaners and washing powders etc can cause serious injury to dogs through ingestion. The caustics will cause damage to the mucous membranes, and destroy tissues on contact. Then they will be absorbed into the blood stream.

Depending upon the substance-ingested injury can be as mild as slight irritation, to severe burns. The areas should be rinsed with copious amounts of water and in all instances veterinary advice should be taken without delay.

Potatoes, green skins and green sprouts in potatoes (which have also poisoned humans) contain solanum alkaloids, which are toxic. Mashed, cooked potato is fine. Take care with bags of potatoes that may be in the kitchen or garages.

Tea, coffee and cola drinks. These may also contain Theobromine – see chocolate

Flea products when used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction should not cause a problem though in some cases sensitivity can occur.

Flea collars and products containing organophosphates will affect the dogs nervous system, poisoning easily occurs when a dog eats a flea collar.

Signs include: vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, convulsions, and or depression. If any of the signs occur contact your veterinary surgeon for advice. It might be useful to bathe the dog to help remove the product from the skin.

Raw liver in large quantities can cause vitamin A toxicity in dogs. Vitamin A is not soluble so it is stored in the body and can build up. Signs of vitamin A over dosage include poor growth, impaired reproduction and sight problems.

Onions especially raw contain sulphur, which can damage red blood cells, which can lead to anemia. Garlic is less toxic and beneficial in some cases especially as an antiseptic, and insect repellent, the safest way to administer garlic is in the form of pearls available from chemists and health food shops. It is prudent to check safe amounts with your vet.

Too much raw fish can cause a deficiency of the vitamin Thiamine that is one of the B vitamin group. Symptoms of Thiamine deficiency includes anorexia (serious loss of appetite), abnormal posture, weakness, seizures, and death, this is dangerous to cats as well as dogs.

Raw Salmon is dangerous as Salmon eat snails that carry bacteria harmful to dogs when ingested, the flukes are found in any part of the salmon, but especially the head and gut of the fish. Just coming into contact with Salmon blood can harm your dog. Diagnosis is difficult due to the fact that it mimics other canine diseases like Parvovirus, though once diagnosed it is easily treated with antibiotics.

Pear pips, plum kernels, peaches, apricots and apple pips contain cyanide and in large quantities are toxic. Grapes, raisins, sultanas and golden raisins are extremely poisonous – they can cause kidney failure. The actual poison is unknown.

Recently it is thought that turkey skin can contribute towards acute Pancreatitis.

Human or animal medicines. The commonest are Aspirin, and Paracetamol. Keep all medicines out of the reach of your dog as you would a child.

Contact your vet immediately should you suspect an accidental overdose or dose of any medicines.

Cocoa bean shells, are a by-product of chocolate production and are sold as mulch for landscaping. Homeowners like cocoa mulch because it degrades into an organic fertilizer and gives an attractive color and odor. Unprocessed beans, taken from the Theobroma cacao plant, contain 1-4% theobromine/0.07-0.36% caffeine whereas, cocoa bean mulch contains 0.19%-2.98% theobromine. Some dogs find the mulch attractive and eat small to large quantities.

Dogs consuming cocoa bean mulch may develop methylxanthine toxicosis which may induce - Seizure - Tremor - Bradycardia (slow heart beat) - Tachyarrhythmia (fast, irregular heart beat)

In all cases of accidental poisoning, keep calm and reassure your dog. Your vet might advise you to induce vomiting, never induce vomiting without checking with your vet first, some poisons will cause more damage from vomiting than from being eaten.

If safe to induce vomiting, baking crystals can be given, but always seek professional advice.

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