COMMON HOUSEHOLD TOXICITIES

Common Household Toxicities

Rat Poison

Source:

    • 95% of all rodenticides

Action

    • Impedes the ability of the animal to clot blood by depleting the body of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is needed to activate certain clotting factors. Therefore, without vitamin K the body is unable to clot blood.

Clinical signs:

    • Blood loss resulting in anemia and other clinical signs:
    • Bleeding into chest cavity, lungs, brain, abdomen, intestines, etc.
    • Bleeding results in shortness of breath, weakness, neurologic abnormalities, bruising on skin, and dark tarry stool among others.

Treatment:

    • If known ingestion within 4 hours then induce vomiting using syrup of ipecac or bring to veterinarian.
    • After induction of vomiting bring pet to veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.
    • Mainstay of treatment is Vitamin K injections at veterinarian and tablets at home.

This is a serious toxicity as clinical signs may not become apparent until too much blood has been lost and pet may die due to toxicity. Therefore if you notice your pet having any of these signs and there is chance of exposure they should be brought to the veterinarian immediately.

Sago Palm

Source:

    • Any part of plant, but seeds most toxic.

Action:

    • Irritation to GI tract followed neurologic abnormalities and more profoundly liver damage.

Clinical signs:

    • GI irritation: vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia (typically first signs noticed)
    • Neurologic: difficulty walking/standing, weakness, seizures
    • Liver damage (typically occurs a few days after ingestion): lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, prolonged clotting time, jaundice.

Treatment:

    • Induction of vomiting followed by supportive and symptomatic care
    • Liver protectant medication

Sago palms are a common plant at many households. Most cases of toxicity occur when owner either trims or removes plant. At times the clinical signs can resolve and then later return due to liver damage.

Tylenol (Acetaminophen)

Action:

    • Chemical reaction causes damage to liver. This reaction also causes production of methemoglobin. Methemoglobin greatly reduces the ability the blood to deliver oxygen to tissues. Also results in the body self destructing red blood cells.

Clinical signs:

    • Blue or purple discoloration of tissue
    • Anemia (pale mucous membranes)
    • Jaundice (yellow mucous membranes)
    • Anorexia
    • Lethargy/depression

Treatment:

  • Induce vomiting with syrup of ipecac.
  • Bring pet to veterinarian as soon as possible for further therapy.
  • Tylenol is more toxic in cats than in dogs. As little as 1 Tylenol tablet may elicit toxicity in cats, two may be lethal. Although it is less toxic in dogs, it will still cause same effect if enough Tylenol is consumed.
Xylitol (Sugar Substitute)

Source:

    • Artificial sweetener found in sugar free gum, toothpaste, and some candies

Action:

    • Causes rapid increase in insulin which greatly lowers blood sugar and also causes liver failure

Clinical signs:

    • Low blood sugar (early onset 30-60 minutes): weakness, difficulty walking/standing, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea
    • Liver failure (later onset 10-72 hours): lethargy, vomiting, remainder of changes are abnormalities in blood work.

Treatment:

  • IV dextrose
  • Liver protectant drugs
  • Monitor liver enzymes on blood work.
  • Treatment is typically successful if performed quickly.
Onions and Garlic

Source:

    • Bulb of the plant

Action:

    • Causes changes to red blood cell that results in self-destruction of red blood cell resulting in anemia.

Clinical signs:

    • Blue or purple discoloration of tissue
    • Anemia

Treatment:

  • Supportive
  • Do not feed your pet things with onions in them.
Grapes and Raisins

Source:

    • Any type of grape or raisin. Variable toxicity as some dogs eat without complications, while in other dogs can be fatal.

Action:

    • Unknown but results in kidney failure

Clinical signs:

    • Vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, little to no urine production

Treatment:

  • Induce vomiting if known ingestion
  • Supportive therapy with IV fluids
Lilies

Only toxic to cats

Source:

    • Any part of plant

Action:

    • Two phases, but ultimately results in kidney failure

Clinical signs

    • 1st phase: vomiting, salivation, depression, anorexia – subsides within 6 hours.
    • 2nd phase: little to no urine production, severe dehydration, kidney failure

Treatment

  • Induction of vomiting if known ingestion
  • Supportive therapy with IV fluids
Chocolate

Source:

    • Different chocolates have different amounts of toxicity. In general, the darker the chocolate the more dangerous it is.

Action:

    • Causes increased activity of skeletal and cardiac muscle. Also causes increased central nervous system stimulation and irritability.

Clinical Signs:

    • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
    • Restlessness, hyperactivity
    • Increased heart rate
    • Increased breathing rate
    • Agitation
    • Tremors and/or seizures
    • Difficulty walking/standing
    • Increased urination

Treatment:

  • Induction of vomiting if known ingestion
  • Symptomatic and supportive treatment depending on severity of symptoms
Anti-freeze (Ethylene Glycol)

Source:

    • Antifreeze most common

Action:

    • Three different phases of toxicosis:
    • Central nervous system depression
    • Profound acidosis
    • Kidney disease

Clinical signs:

    • Central nervous system depression: difficulty walking/balancing, in coordination, increased heart rate, unconsciousness
    • Profound acidosis: fluid buildup in lungs (most common), rapid heart rate, depression/lethargy, anorexia, vomiting.
    • Kidney disease: very little urine output to possibly no urine output, vomiting, anorexia, lethargy. – kidney disease primarily due to production urine crystals.

Treatment:

  • If known ingestion of toxicity or suspected ingestion pet should be brought to veterinarian immediately.
  • Most important is to never leave antifreeze on ground or where a pet could drink some because it is sweet in taste, but extremely toxic and life-threatening.
Poinsettia
  • Many people think these are highly toxic plants. However, they are rarely toxic and if they do cause problems it is typically only mild GI upset.

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