Routes of Exposure
- Ingestion (most common)
- Injection (accidental overdose of medication)
There are hundreds of plants that are toxic to pets. I only listed a few below. If your pet has ingested any unknown plant material and is displaying clinical symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, depression, lethargy, or abnormal behavior, please speak with or visit your veterinarian.
Lilies (Tiger lily, Easter lily, Stargazer lily, some day lilies)
All parts of the plant are toxic
Renal (kidneys) tubular damage = acute renal failure
In North America- found in Southern Canada and across the U.S.
Clinical symptoms: inappetence, vomiting, depression, inability to urinate, painful urination and frequent attempts to urinate with little urine output
Cardiac glycosides which is found in Foxglove, Oleander and Lily of the Valley
Found throughout eastern and southeastern U.S. and Canada
Native to Europe, Mediterranean and Canary Islands
Clinical symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, inappetence and cardiac arrhythmias
Cycad (Sago) Palms
Toxic agent: cycasin
Seeds are especially toxic
Native to tropical islands of southern Japan
Found commonly in subtropics of the U.S. - Florida, California, Georgia and Puerto Rico
Clinical symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence and abnormal behavior
Food and Drinks
Clinical symptoms: abnormal salivation, watery eyes, increased urination, diarrhea, poor coordination, seizures and acute liver failure
Onions, Garlic, Shallots, Leeks and Chives
Clinical symptoms: weakness, lethargy, poor coordination, pale gums, anemia, red/brown urine, possible vomiting or diarrhea and red blood cell damage
Grapes, Raisins and Currants
Clinical symptoms: increased thirst, inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, inability to urinate or only able to produce small output of urine, seizures, tremors and renal failure
Theobromine is the toxic element found in chocolate, the darker the chocolate the higher the content of toxin
(white chocolate does not contain theobromine, but is high in sugar and should not be given to your pets)
Clinical symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmias and seizures
An artificial zero-calorie sweetener typically found in sugar free gum products
Certain brands of peanut butter contain xylitol, also check for this ingredient before giving to your pet
Clinical symptoms: hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level), vomiting, weakness, depression, lethargy, poor coordination and balance, seizures, tremors, blindness, restlessness, liver failure and coma
Clinical symptoms: hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination and coma
Sensitive to very small amounts of alcohol
Clinical symptoms: poor coordination, vomiting, depression, lethargy, drooling, decreased respiratory rate, low blood sugar, hypotension and hypothermia
Raw Yeast Dough
Clinical symptoms: distended/bloated abdomen, vomiting, unproductive retching, increased heart rate, weakness and collapse
Clinical symptoms: vomiting, weakness, fever, muscle tremors and depression
Large Quantities of High Fat Foods
High fat foods in large quantities can cause pancreatitis.
Dogs are commonly brought into the clinic on Thanksgiving displaying clinical symptoms of pancreatitis, which include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, inappetence, fever and lethargy.
Pancreatitis is painful and abnormal posture, specifically the “praying position” (rear end is raised while elbows are on the ground) is a common sign of abdominal pain.
During holidays or anytime large portions of food are left out on the table unattended, make sure your pet is unable to reach.
Rodenticides, Pesticides, Insecticides
Warfarin, Brodifacoum, Bromadiolone
Clinical symptoms: increased urination and thirst, neurological/behavior abnormalities, large tissue bruising and bleeding from orifices
Pyrethrin (derived from Chrysanthemum Plants)
Cats are sensitive to low exposure doses
Found in pesticides and topical pest prevention medications for dogs
Clinical symptoms: hypersalivation (increased saliva production), tremors/shaking, hyperthermia and seizures
Clinical symptoms: slow heart rate, hypersalivation and lacrimation (tearing), increased urination, diarrhea, twitching, paralysis, weakness, poor coordination and seizures
Clinical symptoms: brown gums, anemia, increased respiratory rate, poor oxygenation, vomiting, inappetence, jaundice and black-tarry feces
It is not uncommon for dogs to eat pills if there are bottles within reach. Immediately seek medical attention if you have reason to believe your dog has ingested any medication that it shouldn't have or has overdosed on a medication. Take the bottle and any remaining pills to the clinic as this information really helps determine an appropriate treatment plan.
Clinical symptoms: stomach ulceration, depression, seizures, poor coordination and balance, vomiting, diarrhea and inappetence
Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol)
Anti-freeze is an odorless, sweet tasting substance, which it is a common toxicity in dogs.
Clinical symptoms: increased urination and thirst, vomiting, poor coordination and balance, depression, renal failure, inability to urinate or little output of urine produced, metabolic and electrolyte disturbances
Zinc is present in pennies minted after 1983
Clinical symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, lethargy, jaundice, seizures, anemia, liver and kidney damage, inflammation of the pancreas and orange-tinged feces
Forms of Treatment
24/7 ANIMAL POISON CONTROL CENTER: (888) 426-4435
Case/Toxin Specific Decontamination
- Remove toxin to decrease absorption
- Induce vomiting (removes 40-60% of stomach contents)
- Gastric lavage (tube inserted from the mouth into stomach and stomach contents are removed)
- Activated charcoal – absorbs toxic substances to limit absorption
Enhanced Elimination of Toxin
- Speeding up the body’s process of elimination
- Intravenous fluids for water soluble toxins
- Intravenous lipid therapy for fat soluble toxins
- Not available for all toxins
- Protects against damage to tissues and aids in metabolic detoxification
- Treating effects of toxin, example: blood transfusion, IV fluids, pain medication, oxygen therapy, etc.