Kristi Whitten
Special to the Bonanza

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February 28, 2012
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Tahoe pets: Common toxins to dogs and cats

TAHOE/TRUCKEE — Dogs and cats can and do get into toxic substances, some of which can cause serious harm or death. You should be aware of common toxins and what to look for. Because signs of toxicity are sometimes delayed, simply “waiting to see if a problem develops” is a poor choice.

Chocolate: Caffeine and chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, heart arrhythmias, seizures and death. Dark chocolate is very toxic. It is best to call your Veterinarian or Animal Poison Control to determine if your dog consumed a toxic dose and needs to be treated. Treatment may include inducing vomiting, activated charcoal, IV fluids and hospitalization.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (such as Aleve, Advil, Rimadyl): Ibuprofen or Aleve should never be given to pets. One pill can cause severe stomach bleeding or death. Other drugs such as Rimadyl and Metacam may be used in dogs but an accidental overdose can cause ulcers or possibly kidney failure. Prompt treatment with IV fluids can prevent kidney failure. Keep the tasty chewable kind out of your dog’s reach.

Tylenol/Acetaminophen: Tylenol can be fatal to cats. Dogs can withstand small doses, but it is easy to overdose them and is typically not recommended. Acetaminophen can cause facial swelling, shock, liver or kidney failure, anemia, and death.

Rat Poison (such as d-Con or TomCat): These anticoagulant based poisons may not cause any signs of toxicity for 1 to 5 days. Toxic effects include bleeding in the lungs, nose, bladder, or elsewhere. Once bleeding starts, it is life threatening and your pet needs a plasma transfusion. If seen within 24 hours of ingestion, however, relatively inexpensive pills may prevent bleeding.

Other Rodent Poisons: The non-anticoagulant based rodent poisons may contain bromethalin, cholecalciferol, phosphides or strychnine, which can be rapidly fatal. Call Animal Poison Control or your veterinarian immediately. If your pet has ingested a phosphide, inducing vomiting is not recommended as the vomit will emit a very toxic gas exposing people and pets.

Tremoregenic Toxins: Several common substances such as moldy garbage, compost, certain mushrooms, and marijuana, may cause tremors, urination, and hyper-sensitivity to stimulus. Treatment consists of medication for controlling tremors and seizures, monitoring for heart arrhythmias, and IV fluids.

AntiFreeze : Animals like the sweet taste of ethylene glycol. It is important to get your pet treated within the first few hours after ingestion to prevent kidney failure and death.

Lilies: Lilies are extremely toxic to cats. Consumption of one or two small pieces can lead to vomiting, lethargy, kidney failure, and death. Starting treatment, including IV fluids soon after exposure, greatly improves the prognosis.

Other common toxins to beware of: onion powder, Xylitol (in some chewing gums), grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, hops, or any prescription medication. If your dog or cat gets into something it is best to call your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control 888-426-4435. More information on toxins and toxic plants at

— Kristi Whitten, DVM, is director of Emergency Services at Veterinary Emergency of Truckee/Donner Truckee Veterinary Hospital. She has worked as an Emergency Veterinarian for more than seven years and has lived in Truckee off and on since 1991.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 28, 2012 04:45PM Published Feb 28, 2012 04:43PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.