Friday, August 6, 2010

Common Pet Toxins And Treatment

This page lists some common toxins and their effects and treatments. Diagnosing toxicity based on clinical signs is very difficult. Toxins do not always show the typical clinical signs listed here. If you suspect your pet has come in contact with a toxin, even if they aren't showing clinical signs, go to a veterinarian immediately.

Coffee

Mechanism of action: Intoxication is due to the ingestion of caffeine which results in stimulation of the nervous system.

Clinical Signs:

* increased heart rate
* increased respiratory rate
* hyperexcitability
* tremors
* seizures
* heart rate irregularities

Treatment: There is no antidote. Treatment is supportive depending on clinical signs. Contact your veterinarian ASAP.

Chocolate

Notes: Dark chocolate is the worse than milk chocolate, which is worse than white chocolate. Also, the higher the quality of the chocolate, the more toxic it is (e.g. baking chocolate is much more toxic that inexpensive Easter chocolate).
Mechanism of action:

Intoxication is due to the ingestion of theobromine which also results in the stimulation of the nervous system.

Clinical signs:

* increased blood pressure
* increased heart rate
* heart rate irregularities
* excitability
* nervousness
* tremors
* seizures
* possible coma

Treatment: There is no antidote. Treatment is supportive depending on clinical signs. Contact your veterinarian ASAP.

Easter Lilies:

Notes: The entire plant is toxic to cats.

Mechanism of action: An unknown toxin causes significant damage to the kidneys leading to kidney failure within 24-48 hours after ingestion.

Clinical Signs:

* vomiting
* loss of appetite
* depression
* weakness
* increased urination
* increased consumption of water
* dehydration

Treatment: There is no antidote. Aggressive intravenous fluids may increase recovery rate. Please contact your veterinarian ASAP.

Antifreeze:

Mechanism of action: The toxic effects are due to ethylene glycol and this product is pleasant tasting to animals. This will cause central nervous system depression and eventually lead to kidney damage.

Clinical Signs:

* nausea
* vomiting
* depression
* loss of balance
* seizures
* increased urination and drinking
* increased heart rate
* increased respiratory rate
* coma
* may lead to death

Treatment: There is an antidote and time is of the essence. The animal must be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.

Hartz Onespot treatment / over the counter flea products

Notes: These contain pyrethrins and pyrethroids. Never use these on cats.
Mechanism of action: Some over the counter flea products can be toxic especially to cats. These products are toxic to the nervous system.

Clinical Signs:

* depression
* increased salivation
* muscle tremors
* vomiting
* loss of balance
* respiratory distress (difficulty breathing
* loss of appetite
* seizures

Treatment: There is no antidote but there are medications to control the seizures or tremors. Treatment is supportive depending on clinical signs. Must be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.

Rat poison (rodenticide):

Mechanism of action: Most rodenticides are vitamin-K antagonists. Vitamin K is required for a normal blood clotting response.

Clinical Signs:

* blood loss in:
o stools
o vomit
o nose
o urine
* depression
* pallor
* weakness

Treatment: Effects are reversed with vitamin K administration. Must be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.

Tylenol: (acetaminophen)

Mechanism of action: One of the products of acetaminophen when metabolized is a toxin that can cause damage to the liver in dogs and to red blood cells in cats.

Clinical Signs:

* blue or brown mucous membranes (gums)
* difficulty breathing
* facial swelling
* depression
* hypothermia
* vomiting
* weakness
* coma
* death

Treatment: There is an antidote. Please contact your veterinarian.

Marijuana:

Mechanism of action: When ingested, a percentage of THC goes into the bloodstream.

Clinical Signs:

* behavioral changes
* euphoria
* increased heart rate
* hypotension
* muscle weakness
* red eyes
* depression
* stupor
* loss of balance
* hypothermia
* possible vomiting

Treatment: If ingestion is recent, your veterinarian may decide to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal afterwards to minimize absorption. May need other supportive treatment depending on clinical signs. Please contact your veterinarian. You need not worry as all information remains confidential. We just want to take care of your pets.

Nicotine: (cigarettes)

Mechanism of action: Affects the nervous system including the brain.

Clinical signs:

* excitement
* hyperactive
* salivation
* vomiting
* diarrhea
* increased respiratory rate
* urination
* tremors
* muscle twitches
* difficulty breathing
* increased heart rate
* collapse
* coma
* may lead to death

Treatment: This is an emergency situation. The animal must be seen by a vet ASAP to be stabilized. An antidote exists depending on clinical signs being exhibited.

Organophosphates:

Notes: These include pesticides, fly bait, etc.

Mechanism of action: The product will cause a constant state of nerve stimulation.

Clinical signs:

* difficulty breathing
* salivation
* constricted pupils
* urination
* defecation
* heart rate abnormalities
* twitching
* muscle tremors
* weakness
* paralysis
* convulsions
* loss of balance
* anxiety
* respiratory failure
* depression
* aggression
* death

Treatment: There is an antidote. The animal must be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.

Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatories

Notes: These includes ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin, etc.

Mechanism of action: Inhibits the protective barrier of the gastrointestinal tract leading to gastrointestinal ulceration. This product may also cause damage to the kidneys.

Clinical Signs:

* abdominal pain
* lethargy
* anemia
* blood in stool
* blood in vomit

If perforation of the ulcer occurs, this may cause:

* fever
* increased heart rate
* shock

If renal damage occurs, this will cause:

* increased drinking
* increased urination

Treatment: There is no antidote. Treatment is supportive for the ulcers and kidneys. Contact your veterinarian ASAP.

***Information taken from Secord Animal Hospital.