How to Deal with a Pet Poisoning
November 4, 2019
At this time of the year we seen more cases of poisoning in dogs and cats. This is because they spend more time indoors and become more inquisitive and mischievous. A lot of what we would consider to be normal edible items for ourselves will often pose a risk to our pets; a well-known example is chocolate but there are many other foodstuffs and household items that can make our pets very unwell.
Signs of Pet Poisonings
- Ingested poisons cause can excess salivation, teeth grinding, diarrhoea, vomiting, weakness, increased or decreased water intake, dilated pupils, excitation, seizures, stupor, lethargy, loss of consciousness
- Inhaled poisons – carbon monoxide and smoke inhalation will cause coughing, blue gums, fast breathing, loss of consciousness, death
- Contact via absorption through the skin or via direct contact with the skin – chemicals can cause twitching or seizures whereas irritant plants can cause itchiness, urticarial type reactions, moist ulcerated patches or in the case of burns, singed hair, red inflamed, possibly ulcerated skin.
What to do in the case of a poisoning
- If your pet has swallowed something that may be poisonous, please take the box or container in which it came and work out the amount your pet may have eaten and take them all to the vets. Do not attempt to try to make them vomit as it can potentially cause more problems trying to make them vomit. Take your pet to the veterinary surgery immediately.
- If your pet has inhaled a noxious gas, remove your pet from the area, always ensuring your safety, and allow access to fresh air. If your pet is not breathing, start artificial respiration. Take your pet to the veterinary surgery immediately.
- If your pet has had direct skin contact with a poison, wear gloves, wipe the excess solution from the skin with an absorbent towel, wash the pet in a mild shampoo in lukewarm water and dry them. If your pet has been thermally or chemically burnt, please flush the wound with cool running water for at least 20 minutes, then cover with clingfilm and take the pet to the veterinary surgery immediately.
Treatment at the veterinary surgery
- If your pet has swallowed something,
- medication may be administered to make it vomit.
- In some cases, anaesthesia may be required to flush the stomach.
- Blood tests may be required
- Intravenous fluids may be necessary
- An antidote may be administered via an intravenous route
- Symptomatic treatment if a poison cannot be readily identified
- If your pet has inhaled a poisonous gas,
- They will receive oxygen therapy
- They may be anaesthetised to allow proper ventilation of the lungs
- They may receive appropriate medication to aid recovery
- If your pet has had a contact poison,
- They may be washed again to remove any remaining toxin
- Sedation or general anaesthesia and medication may be required in the case of seizures
- Appropriate hair clipping and medication may be administered in the case of a localised skin reaction
- Burn wounds will be treated symptomatically initially and if it becomes evident that there is ongoing deterioration of the area, anaesthesia and surgical debridement may be required.
What to do to avoid pet poisonings
- Ensure pets are kept away from areas where potential poisons are kept.
- Ensure all bottles and containers are securely closed and kept in a cupboard away from prying noses.
- Ensure all human and dog medicines are kept in separate cupboards and in appropriate labelled containers (avoiding the mix-up of the dog having the owner’s contraceptive pill and the owner having the dog’s flea tablet!)
- Follow the instructions on all tablets, flea preparations, pest control preparations and avoid overdosing your pet.
Jürgen Theinert BVSc BSc MRCVS