Not every pet emergency can be avoided, but you can greatly reduce your pet’s risk by learning about the most common emergencies and taking precautions to prevent them. One of the most common pet emergencies is toxin ingestion, which is best avoided by familiarizing yourself with common toxins and ensuring they are not accessible to your pets. Our team at Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Groves provides information about the most common pet toxins that are likely available in your home.

#1: Poisonous plants—pretty, but poisonous to pets 

Plants and flowers look beautiful in your home and yard, but many are harmful to pets, including:

  • Sago palm — The seeds or nuts in sago palms contain a large amount of toxins that, if ingested, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, liver failure, and potentially death in pets. 
  • Lilies — All lilies are extremely toxic to pets, especially cats. The entire plant, including the stem, leaves, flower, pollen, and the vase water are extremely poisonous, and eating a small amount of any part, licking pollen off their fur, or drinking the vase water can cause kidney failure in cats.
  • Tulips — These flowers contain allergenic lactones, which are toxins most concentrated in the plant’s bulb that will irritate your pet’s mouth and esophagus and cause signs including profuse drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Azaleas — These plants contain grayanotoxins, which disrupt sodium channels in your pet’s skeletal and cardiac muscles, and cause signs that include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, weakness, tremors, seizures, and coma.
  • Chrysanthemums — These plants contain pyrethrins and other potential irritants that cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and lack of coordination.
  • Autumn crocus — The autumn crocus contains colchicine, which can cause bone marrow suppression and liver failure in pets. 

Before you buy any plants or flowers, always check the ASPCA toxic plant list to ensure they are not toxic for pets.

#2: Table food—delicious, but dangerous for pets

We know that resisting your pet’s pleading eyes as you eat is terribly difficult, but many table scraps are toxic to pets and can be dangerous if ingested. Never give your pet human food, and clean up quickly after meals to ensure your pet doesn’t sneak a bite from an unattended plate. Foods that can be harmful to your pet include: 

  • Grapes and raisins — Grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to pets, and only a small amount can cause kidney failure.
  • Onions, chives, garlic, and leeks — Onions, leeks, chives, and garlic contain thiosulphates, which cause your pet’s red blood cells to break down, leading to anemia. Initial signs include lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea, but as your pet becomes more anemic, signs progress to weakness, pale mucous membranes, and bloody urine.
  • Chocolate  While all chocolate forms are harmful to pets, dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the most problematic. The caffeine and theobromine found in chocolate can stimulate the pet’s central nervous system, with signs that include agitation, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Macadamia nuts Pets who consume macadamia nuts may experience neurologic signs, including loss of coordination, muscle tremors, and an inability to walk. The high fat content in macadamia nuts can also lead to pancreatitis—a painful inflammatory condition that requires hospitalization and can be life-threatening.
  • Xylitol — Xylitol is a natural sweetener commonly found in sugar-free candy, gum, baked goods, and some personal hygiene products and can cause a sudden drop in your pet’s blood sugar, causing incoordination and seizures.

#3: Household products—often handy, but harmful to pets

You likely do not realize how many household products that can harm your pet are hidden in your home and garage. Keep an eye out for these household dangers:

  • Medications — Many over-the-counter medications (e.g., ibuprofen, acetaminophen, cold and flu medicine, vitamins, and supplements), as well as prescription medications (e.g., antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and heart medications), can seriously harm pets, yet are often stored in easily accessible bathroom cabinets, backpacks, and purses. Protect your pet by storing all medications in closed cabinets and keeping backpacks and purses off the floor and out of reach. 
  • Cleaning products — Many household cleaning products (e.g., all-purpose cleaners, disinfectants, and bleach) contain chemicals that are extremely hazardous to pets. Keep these items in cabinets or drawers your pet cannot reach. 
  • Rodenticide — Many commercial rodenticide types are available that help destroy rats or mice, but pets are also susceptible to the deadly effects of these poisons. Preventing access is vital to ensure your pet does not accidentally ingest any rodenticide.
  • Antifreeze — Many antifreeze products contain ethylene glycol, which has a sweet taste attractive to pets, but can cause severe kidney failure. Signs include lethargy, vomiting, incoordination, excessive thirst and urination, seizures, and coma.
  • Fertilizer — Garden fertilizers often contain chemicals that are poisonous for pets and can lead to gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis.

Protect your pet from an unexpected health emergency by being knowledgeable about and mindful of all the ways your pet could be poisoned and ensuring all toxins are kept safely secured. You can also protect your pet against health problems with regular wellness screenings and preventive care. Contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Groves team if you are concerned your pet has ingested something toxic, or to schedule their wellness examination.