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Updated March 17, 2022 – Knowing the most common toxins (including foods) that may harm your dog or cat can make the difference between life and death for your pet. And, while some problems are easily avoidable (keeping medications out of reach and locked up), others are a little trickier as toxins are commonplace in and outside our homes.

The most important thing to remember is that if you believe your pet has ingested or come into contact with any poisonous substance, call your veterinarian immediately. Another valuable resource is the Pet Poison Helpline, a 24-hour animal poison control service available throughout the United States and Canada.

When you call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline, be sure to have on hand information from containers or labels, or even a photograph of the suspected substance. The more information you can provide about the exposure – time elapsed, how much was ingested, size of pet, etc. – the better. This may help diagnose a poisoned pet faster and make it easier to treat and potentially save their life.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline:

Top 10 toxins for cats are:

  • Lilies, including day, tiger and Easter lilies (the entire lily plant is toxic: stem, leaves, flowers, pollen and even water from the vase)
  • Spot on flea/tick medication for dogs
  • Household cleaners
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Essential oils
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Rodenticides
  • Stimulant medications, such as medications for ADD or ADHD
  • Onions and garlic
  • Vitamin D preparations (found in tablets or creams)

Top 10 toxins for dogs are:

  • Chocolate
  • Rodenticides
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Xylitol (sugar-free gum and more)
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Acetaminophen found in drugs like Tylenol
  • Vitamin D preparations (tablets or creams)
  • Stimulant medications, such as medications for ADD or ADHD
  • Fertilizers

Morris Animal Foundation has funded research for solutions to treat accidental poisonings. One study, from researchers at the University of Munich, investigated the effectiveness of blood purification techniques to remove metaldehyde from canine blood.

Metaldehyde is an organic compound commonly used as a pesticide against slugs and snails, and sometimes as camp stove fuel. It’s extremely toxic to mammals and birds. When dogs eat slug and snail baits, they suffer from metaldehyde intoxication, which causes significant illness and death. There is no known antidote for this toxin, and mortality rates can reach 23%.

The team devised a method using hemodialysis-hemoperfusion, the same technique used to remove kidney toxins from the blood. They initially tried this novel therapy on just plasma samples containing metaldehyde, but eventually treated 10 dogs suffering from metaldehyde intoxication. Every dog recovered completely.

Morris Animal Foundation works hard every day to ensure animals everywhere can have longer, healthier lives. Learn more about how to keep your pets happy, healthy and safe from pet toxin exposures, including the growing concern of pets getting into cannabinoid products.



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