The Animal Hospital of Lynchburg

1705 Memorial Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24501

(434)845-7021

lynchburgvet.com

Pet Toxins:

Welcome to The Animal Hospital of Lynchburg's pet toxins webpage !!!  Here you will find information about canine and feline toxins such as ethylene glycol (antifreeze), chocolate, and xylitol, as well as links to other pet toxin related sites. 

Common Household Toxicities:

 What is toxin? It could be a chemical which should not be ingested such as antifreeze or a chemical is made to be consumed, but is ingested in extreme quantities such as chocolate. Toxins can even be external, such as exposure to a substance which irritates the skin or eyes.
    
Toxins can affect multiple organ systems in the body and cause a variety of clinical signs.  These signs can mimic other types of illness. Your observations and input can be critical to promptly diagnosing a potential toxicity in your pet.
    
The best way to treat toxicities is to prevent them! Be aware of substances which can be toxic and keep them out of reach of your pet.  Keep some simple supplies handy to help treat a potential problem.

Some Commonly Encountered Pet Toxins:


Chocolate:
    
Chocolate is made with a mixture of cocoa beans and cocoa butter which contain methylxanthines; theobromine and caffeine. Dogs are sensitive to methylxanthines which cause hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, tremors, and death.

In general, the less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it is.

45#                                 mild              severe
milk chocolate            8oz.                 20oz.

semi sweet                 3oz.                 8oz.             

baking                         1oz.                 2.5oz.

Prompt treatment includes inducing vomiting, and contacting your vet.

Dogs can be poisoned by ingesting mulch made from the cocoa bean shell. This mulch is available from home and garden centers and has an attractive smell which may entice dogs to eat it. The mulch does can contain the methylxanthines, just as chocolate does. Current studies have not been able to determine specific amounts needed to cause toxicity, but it is best to avoid this type of mulch in areas accessible to your dogs.       

Xylitol:
     Crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar. It is used as a sugar substitute in sugar free candy, gum, and other products. Xylitol does not affect sugar or insulin levels in humans. In dogs, it causes insulin levels to increase causing a severe drop in blood sugar. This leads rapidly to weakness, collapse, and seizures. One to two sticks of gum are enough to effect a 20 pound dog.  At higher doses, Xylitol can cause severe liver necrosis and failure which can be fatal. When ingestion has just occurred, inducing vomiting is beneficial. Prompt veterinary treatment with hospitalization for supportive care and close monitoring is imperative in cases of xylitol ingestion.

Raisins/Grapes:   
     Recently veterinarians have recognized an association between the ingestion of large quantities of grapes or raisins and acute renal failure in dogs. The toxic principle has not been identified, but is likely in the skin or flesh of the grape, not the seeds.  The risk factors are not understood for this toicity as not all dogs who ingest grapes or raisins become ill. Obviously it is not worth the risk, so all keep these fruits away from your dog. As with many or toxicities, with a recent ingestion, induce vomiting and immediately contact your veterinarian. Your dog will likely need hospitalization with aggressive fluid therapy to support the kidney blood flow and hopefully avoid permanent damage.     Recently veterinarians have recognized an association between the ingestion of large quantities of grapes or raisins and acute renal failure in dogs. The toxic principle has not been identified, but is likely in the skin or flesh of the grape, not the seeds.  The risk factors are not understood for this toicity as not all dogs who ingest grapes or raisins become ill. Obviously it is not worth the risk, so all keep these fruits away from your dog. As with many or toxicities, with a recent ingestion, induce vomiting and immediately contact your veterinarian. Your dog will likely need hospitalization with aggressive fluid therapy to support the kidney blood flow and hopefully avoid permanent damage. 

Swiffer Wet Jet: 
    
E
-mails have circulated about the Swffer Wet Jet causing liver failure and death in a dog. The ASPCA Poison Control Toxicologists have reviewed the information and concluded the Swiffer Wet Jet is safe to use with pets. The Swiffer Wet Jet system contains water (90-100%), propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether and isopropyl alcohol (1-4%). These ingredients are safe to use around pets when used according to label directions and would not cause liver damage at product concentrations. Propylene glycol differs significantly from ethylene glycol, the potentially toxic ingredient present in most antifreeze products. Ethylene glycol is frequently implicated in causing renal failure in dogs following antifreeze ingestion. Propylene glycol is very safe at levels used in cleaning products and does not cause kidney or liver failure.

Emergency Kit
Your local veterinarian's phone number 

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline (888) 426-4435 or the ASPCA Poison Control Website
Blue Ridge Poison Control (800) 451-1428

- Fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)
- Turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
- Saline eye solution
- Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
- Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
- Forceps (to remove stingers)
- Muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)
- Can of your pet's favorite wet food
- Pet carrier

Always consult a veterinarian or the ASPCA for directions on how and when to use any emergency first-aid item.

What to do in case of ingestion
If your pet ingests something toxic, or you are not sure of the toxic potential...

Stay calm

Always call even if potential toxin does not seem significant

Quick treatment can prevent long term consequences

Call vet or poison control center

 
Information To Have Ready

·         Pet's medical history including any medications

·         Any clinical signs such as vomit diarrhea tremors lethargy

·         Any potential toxin exposure- have packaging available

·         Time frame of exposure

 

Follow their directions regarding inducing vomiting or dilution with milk

Proceed to the veterinarians if directed

Bring packaging even if only partial

 

Veterinary Procedures
Treatment will be based on condition of pet at presentation

Emergency measures to stabilize critical pet

Assist breathing

IV fluids to support circulation and aid in toxin removal

Sedate to pass a tube to lavage (flush) the stomach to remove any residual toxin

Administer charcoal to bind the toxin and decrease further absorption from the intestinal tract

Cathartic maybe administered to help speed the toxin through the gastrointestinal tract depending on condition of the dog

An enema might help to increase elimination from the gastrointestinal tract

While stabilizing the patient samples of blood, urine, and stomach contents will be collected to help identify the underlying toxin

If the toxin is known or identified, a specific antidote may be indicated.

 

Other Common Poisonings
     This is by no means a comprehensive listing of potential toxins. This is but a listing of the most common toxins that are seen by our practice.  If in doubt about any substance your pet may have ingested or come in contact with, be sure to immediately call your veterinarian or poison control.  In most poisonings time is of the essence, and once clinical signs begin, it may be too late to avoid fatal injury.  
     Drugs & Chemicals: Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Organophosphates (many older flea and tick products), Asprin, Amitraz (in some tick collars), Antihistamines (allergy medications), Caffeine (coffee and stimulants), Ethylene Glycol (automotive antifreeze-coolant), Fertilizers, Herbicides, Household Cleaning Products, Insecticides, Iron (in vitamins), Mothballs, Mushrooms (some wild varieties are extremely toxic), Onion and Garlic, Rodenticides (rat and mouse poisons), 
     Plants: Lillies, Marijuana, Sago Palm, Tulip/Narcissus, Azalea/Rhododendron, Oleander, Castor Bean, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Yew, Amaryllis, Autumn Crocus, Chrysanthemum, English Ivy, Peace Lily, Pothos, Shefflera.  For more detailed information about these toxins, see the
ASPCA plant toxins webpage.
     Foods: Chocolate, Xylitol (artificial sweetener),
     Insects & Animals: Rattlesnakes (see the
ASPCA link to snakebite prevention), Spiders, Toads,