This page lists some common toxins and their effects and treatments.

Diagnosing toxicity based on clinical signs is very difficult, as toxins do not always show the typical clinical signs listed here. If you suspect your pet has come in contact with a toxin, even if they aren't showing clinical signs, call us immediately at: 519-624-9760. The sooner your pet is treated, the better the outcome in most cases.

Treatment may involve inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal, hospitalization on IV fluids, or a combination of all three. Please pet-proof your home to prevent accidental ingestion of the toxins described on this page!

Coffee

Mechanism of Action:
Intoxication is due to the ingestion of caffeine, which results in stimulation of the nervous system.

Clinical Signs:

  • increased heart rate
  • increased respiratory rate
  • hyper-excitability
  • tremors
  • seizures
  • heart rate irregularities

Treatment:

There is no antidote. Treatment is supportive depending on clinical signs. Contact your veterinarian ASAP.

 

Chocolate

Notes:

For your pet, dark chocolate is worse than milk chocolate, which is worse than white chocolate. The higher the quality of the chocolate, the more toxic it is (e.g. baking chocolate is more toxic than inexpensive Easter chocolate), due to a higher concentration of pure cacao.

Mechanism of Action:

Intoxication is due to the ingestion of theobromine, which results in the stimulation of the nervous system.

Clinical Signs:

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • heart rate irregularities
  • excitability
  • nervousness
  • tremors
  • seizures
  • possible coma
Treatment:

There is no antidote. Treatment is supportive depending on clinical signs. Contact your veterinarian ASAP.


Mulch made from Cocoa
 
Notes: 
This type of mulch contains both theobromine and caffeine (see chocolate and coffee).


Easter Lillies

Notes:
 The entire plant is toxic to cats.
 
Mechanism of Action:
An unknown toxin causes significant damage to the kidneys, leading to kidney failure within 24-48 hours after ingestion.

Clinical Signs:
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • weakness
  • increased urination
  • increased consumption of water
  • dehydration
Treatment:
There is no antidote. Aggressive intravenous fluids may increase recovery rate. Please contact your veterinarian ASAP.
 

Antifreeze:
 
Mechanism of Action:
The toxic effects are due to ethylene glycol and this product is pleasant tasting to animals. This will cause central nervous system depression and eventually lead to kidney failure.

Clinical Signs:
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • depression
  • loss of balance
  • seizures
  • increased urination and drinking
  • increased heart rate
  • increased respiratory rate
  • coma
  • may lead to death
Treatment:
There is an antidote and time is of the essence. The pet must be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.

Hartz Onespot Treatment / Over-the-Counter Flea Products

Notes:
These contain pyrethrins and pyrethroids. Never use these on cats.
 
Mechanism of Action:

    Some over the counter flea products can be toxic especially to cats. These products are toxic to the nervous system.

    Clinical Signs:

    • depression
    • increased salivation
    • muscle tremors
    • vomiting
    • loss of balance
    • respiratory distress (difficulty breathing
    • loss of appetite
    • seizures

    Treatment:

    There is no antidote but there are medications to control the seizures or tremors. Treatment is supportive depending on clinical signs. Your pet must be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.

     

    Rat poison (rodenticide):

    Mechanism of action:
    Most rodenticides are vitamin-K antagonists. Vitamin K is required for a normal blood clotting response.

    Clinical Signs:

    • blood loss in:
      • stools
      • vomit
      • nose
      • urine
    • depression
    • pallor
    • weakness

    Treatment:

    Effects are reversed with vitamin K administration. Your pet must be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.

     

    Tylenol: (acetaminophen)

    Mechanism of action:
    One of the products of acetaminophen when metabolized is a toxin that can cause damage to the liver in dogs and to red blood cells in cats.

    Clinical Signs:

    • blue or brown mucous membranes (gums)
    • difficulty breathing
    • facial swelling
    • depression
    • hypothermia
    • vomiting
    • weakness
    • coma
    • death

    Treatment:

    There is an antidote. Please contact your veterinarian.

     

    Marijuana

    Mechanism of action:
    When ingested, a percentage of THC goes into the bloodstream.

    Clinical Signs:

    • behavioral changes
    • euphoria
    • increased heart rate
    • hypotension
    • muscle weakness
    • red eyes
    • depression
    • stupor
    • loss of balance
    • hypothermia
    • possible vomiting

    Treatment:

    If ingestion is recent, your veterinarian may decide to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal afterwards to minimize absorption. May need other supportive treatment depending on clinical signs. Please contact your veterinarian. You need not worry as all information remains confidential.

     

    Nicotine (cigarettes)

    Mechanism of action:
    Affects the nervous system including the brain.

    Clinical signs:

    • excitement
    • hyperactive
    • salivation
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • increased respiratory rate
    • urination
    • tremors
    • muscle twitches
    • difficulty breathing
    • increased heart rate
    • collapse
    • coma
    • ay lead to death

    Treatment:

    This is an emergency situation. Your pet must be seen by a vet ASAP to be stabilized. An antidote exists depending on clinical signs being exhibited.

     

    Organophosphates

    Notes:

    These include pesticides, fly bait, etc.

    Mechanism of action:
    The product will cause a constant state of nerve stimulation.

    Clinical signs:

    • difficulty breathing
    • salivation
    • constricted pupils
    • urination
    • defecation
    • heart rate abnormalities
    • twitching
    • muscle tremors
    • weakness
    • paralysis
    • convulsions
    • loss of balance
    • anxiety
    • respiratory failure
    • depression
    • aggression
    • death

    Treatment:

    There is an antidote. Your pet must be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.

     

    Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatories

    Notes:

    These includes ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin, etc.

    Mechanism of action:
    Inhibits the protective barrier of the gastrointestinal tract leading to gastrointestinal ulceration. This product may also cause damage to the kidneys.

    Clinical Signs:

    • abdominal pain
    • lethargy
    • anemia
    • blood in stool
    • blood in vomit

    If perforation of the ulcer occurs, this may cause:

    • fever
    • increased heart rate
    • shock

    If renal damage occurs, this will cause:

    • increased drinking
    • increased urination

    Treatment:

    There is no antidote. Treatment is supportive for the ulcers and kidneys. Contact your veterinarian ASAP.

    If your pet has ingested a toxic substance you should call us right away at 519-624-9760, after hours call the Emergency Clinic of Waterloo Region at 519-650-1617

    More information can be found at:
    24/7 Animal Poison Control Center

    1-800-213-6680 www.petpoisonhelpline.com