Pet poison of the week – Decongestants

Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs
Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe
Common signs to watch for:
• Vomiting
• Dilated pupils
• Severe blood pressure changes
• Elevated or really slow heart rate
• Tremors
• Seizures
• Acute death
Decongestants, which are designed to prevent post-nasal drip, work by constricting (or tightening) the blood vessels in the nose (and the rest of the body). The most common types of decongestants are pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. These drugs are commonly found in cold, flu and allergy medications. When accidentally ingested by dogs and cats, decongestants can be deadly as they can result in vomiting, dilated pupils, severe blood pressure changes (hypertension), abnormal heart rhythms and rates, tremors, and seizures. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent potentially life-threatening signs. Decontamination, blood pressure monitoring, medications to lower the blood pressure, and aggressive symptomatic supportive care may be necessary.
Poison type: Medications
Alternate names: phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, cold medication, cough medication, Claritin-D, Mucinex-D, asthma medication, diet pills, nasal decongestants, sympathomimetics



What do you feed your pet?

Yes, but they love it, they will do anything for it, it doesn’t have any side effects? Lots of human food are very dangerous and could even be fatal to your pet, do you really want to slowly poison your pet to death?

Remember you pets are great at seeking out, even opening cupboards, climbing, keep the dangers out of sight of your pet.


  • Onions, garlic, leeks (raw, cooked and dried), forget the garlic to control ticks, it really doesn’t, speak to your pet and get the right treatment to control ticks.
  • Slug pellets
  • Chocolate, it’s really bad for dogs, don’t even tempt your pets with pet friendly chocolate, train your pets not to touch anything that looks and smells like chocolate
  • All medicines, yes even pain killers, only your vet can give your pet painkillers, and no they aren’t the same as human ones.
  • Raisins, currents and sultanas, keep the cakes out of reach
  • Vitamin D, this vitamin doesn’t work the same in our pets, avoid using supplements in their foods
  • Rodent poison, tasty for pets also, watch out around farms, countryside, and even regular dog walks, there have been many cases where rodent poison has been found mixed into raw meats and dog toys
  • Silica gel packs
  • Grapes


Toxic products include house hold cleaners, alcohols and other corrosive items

Foreign bodies are inert objects that pets swallow, often after chewing or at play. Chicken bones, bottle tops, balls, smelly socks, even raw hide bones.

Did you know that vets in the UK recently recorded that:

43% of pets have consumed Human Medication

16% Human Food

7.5% Insecticide

6.5% Rodenticide

5.5% Dietary Supplements

When pet owners were asked what potential poisons, could be dangerous to pets, on average most pet owners could only name 3 potential poisons.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something, they shouldn’t telephone your vet asap.

Remember prevention is better than the cure!!


Driver Fatigue

Often drivers fall asleep without warning, and drivers who do fall asleep at the wheel have often tried to fight of drowsiness by opening a window, or by turning up the radio. This doesn’t work for long.

Here are some facts:

  • Research suggests that almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep-related.
  • Sleep-related accidents are more likely than others to result in a fatality or serious injury.
  • Peak times for accidents are in the early hours and after lunch.

How can I avoid this:

  • Plan your journey to include a 15-minute break every two hours.
  • Don’t start a long trip if you’re already tired.
  • Remember the risks if you have to get up unusually early to start a long drive.
  • Try to avoid long trips between midnight and 6 am when you’re likely to feel sleepy anyway.
  • If you start to feel sleepy, find a safe place to stop – not the hard shoulder of a motorway. Drink two cups of coffee, or a high-caffeine drink and have a rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow time for the caffeine to kick in.
  • Remember, the only real cure of sleepiness is proper sleep.
  • 2017-82

Continue reading “Driver Fatigue”

Pet poison of the week – Chives

Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs
Level of toxicity: Generally mild to moderate
Common signs to watch for:
• Drooling
• Nausea
• Oral irritation
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Lethargy
• Abdominal pain
• Elevated heart rate and respiratory rate
• Weakness
• Exercise intolerance
• Collapse
• Pale gums
Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are of the Allium family, and are poisonous to both dogs and cats. Garlic is considered to be about 5X as potent as onions. Certain breeds and species seem to be more sensitive: Japanese breeds of dogs (e.g., Akita, Shiba Inu) and cats. Onion and garlic poisoning results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells (making the red blood cells more likely to rupture) and gastroenteritis (e.g., nausea, oral irritation, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea). Other clinical signs of anemia may be seen, and include lethargy, pale gums, an elevated heart rate, an increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, and collapse. Onion and garlic poisoning may have a delayed onset, and clinical signs may not be apparent for several days.
If you suspect your dog or cat have onion poisoning or garlic poisoning, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations.
Poison type: Plants
Scientific name: Allium schoenoprasum
Alternate names: Allium, Alliaceae, leeks, disulfides, thiosulfates, anemia, onions, garlic



Pets as therapy

Thousands of people of all ages benefit every week from the visits provided by our PAT Volunteer Teams, who visit residential homes, hospitals, hospices, schools, day care centres and prisons.

Volunteers with just a small amount of spare time each week work with their own pets to bring joy, comfort and companionship to many individuals who appreciate being able to touch and stroke a friendly animal.

Each PAT pet has passed a temperament assessment with on or our assessors, which demonstrates if s/he has a suitable temperament to start visits.

We support new PAT Teams and help to introduce them to establishments which are waiting for a visit.

As well as our PAT Teams visiting in the establishments, Pets As Therapy is becoming increasingly involved in structured Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) sessions, through referral by clinical psychologists working with dog phobic patients and with occupational therapists working with patients in stroke rehabilitation.

Continue reading “Pets as therapy”

Pet Allergy Week

Pet Allergy Week (PAW) is back again for 2017!


Did you know that 10-15% of dogs and cats in the UK can be affected by allergic disease at some stage in their life?


Does your pet suffer any of these common symptoms?

  • Persistent licking
  • Loss of appetite
  • Over-grooming
  • Skin irritation
  • Face rubbing
  • Paw chewing
  • Scratching
  • Rashes
  • Hair loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight problems
  • Low energy levels
  • Ear inflammations
  • Behaviour problems
  • Respiratory problems.


Your vet can take a simple blood test which can help identify your pet’s allergies. With the test results, your vet can then provide you with solutions for managing your pet’s condition.


Pet poison of the week – Chocolate

Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs
Level of toxicity: Generally mild to severe
Common signs to watch for:
• Hyperactivity
• Restlessness
• Vomiting
• Elevated heart rate
• Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
• Abnormal heart rhythms
• Tremors
• Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
• Seizures
• Collapse
• Death
While the occasional chocolate chip within one cookie may not be an issue, we worry about certain types of chocolate – the less sweet and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your dog. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. Other sources include chewable, flavored multi-vitamins, baked goods, or chocolate-covered espresso beans. The chemical toxicity is due to a methylxanthine (like theobromine and caffeine), and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, inflammation of the pancreas (i.e., pancreatitis), an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and rarely, even death. Dogs make up 95% of all our chocolate calls, as cats are usually too discriminating to eat chocolate! In smaller dogs, even the wrappers from candy can result in a secondary obstruction in the stomach or intestines.
Poison type: Foods
Alternate names: chocolate-covered espresso beans, milk chocolate, Baker’s chocolate, white chocolate, cocoa mulch, cocoa hull, caffeine, theobromine, methylxanthine, xanthine, Vivarin, tea, coffee, cacao mulch, cocoa powder, Halloween candy, weight loss supplements, theobromine, dietary supplements, coffee beans, energy drinks, green tea, guarana.



Pet poison of the week – Currants

Poisonous to: Dogs
Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe
Common signs to watch for:
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Abnormal drinking or urination
• Lethargy
• Inappetance
• Halitosis
• Dehydration
Grapes, raisins, and even currants (some currants are actually small, black grapes) are toxic to your dog! In fact, there have been anecdotal reports of cats and ferrets being affected by these also. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute kidney failure. All types of grape- or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this. Even organic, pesticide-free, grapes grown in home gardens can result in toxicity. Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially severe acute renal failure (which develops several days later). The toxicity is not necessarily dose-dependent, and symptoms can occur with even small ingestions. Decontamination (e.g., inducing vomiting, decontaminating with activated charcoal, etc.), aggressive supportive care, aggressive IV fluid therapy, and kidney function (e.g., BUN/creatinine) monitoring is recommended.
If you suspect your pet ingested grapes, raisins, or currants, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations.
Poison type: Foods
Alternate names: Grapes, raisins, currants, sultanas, grapeseed extract



Winter safety advice for dogs

Winter safety advice for dogs

Here are some hints and tips to help you keep your dog in top shape over the winter months:


winter safety dogs

With fewer daylight hours and cold, wet weather you may find that your dog does not get as much exercise as he does in the summer. It is a good idea to monitor his weight and food intake, as you may need to reduce the amount of food you give your dog, to stop him putting on weight over the winter. If you are w

alking in low light or darkness consider a fluorescent jacket and/or collar. You could also attach a flashing light to your dog’s collar to make him easier to spot. Ensure he is wearing an identification disc and we strongly recommend a microchip (with up to date contact details) to increase the chances of being reunited should your dog go missing.

Ice and snow

If we get a cold snap it is great fun to get out and about with your dog. Keep a regular check on your dog’s paws as ice and snow can ball up in the space between toes. Salt and other chemicals used to grit roads and pavements can be irritant to your dog’s pads (especially if they have any small abrasions), so we would advise wiping your dog’s paws with a cloth and warm water when you get home.

Dog coats

Slim dogs with a short hair coat (such as greyhounds or Chihuahuas) can feel the cold and you may find that as your dog gets older he starts to feel the cold more. Most dogs will be fine without a coat while exercising, but if you are spending a long period of time outside (and standing still) you should consider a coat for your dog. Some breeds of dog are well suited to cold environments (Alaskan malamute, St Bernard) and these dogs are unlikely to need a coat, in fact may well be quite uncomfortable with one on.

Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze) Poisoning

The worst of all the wintertime chemical spills is antifreeze, which can leak from a car’s radiator. Ethylene glycol ingestion is very dangerous. It is sweet tasting and very palatable and even a relatively small quantity can cause serious kidney damage and be fatal. The first signs of intoxication can be that your dog appears ‘drunk’. If you know your dog has ingested ethylene glycol or you have any concerns, contact your vet without delay. The prognosis becomes less good the longer the delay between ingestion of the anti freeze and initiation of treatment.


The poinsettia plant’s brightly coloured leaves contain an irritant sap. The plant is poisonous if ingested in large quantities but it is unlikely your dog would ingest enough of the plant because of the taste and irritation from the sap. To be on the safe side though, keep them out of your dogs reach. Holly and mistletoe plants, along with their berries, are toxic to dogs. Symptoms of illness from ingesting these plants include intestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhoea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain. Daffodils are also toxic to both dogs and cats, especially the bulbs

Antifreeze poisoning in pets

Antifreeze poisoning in pets

Antifreeze and pets

Just before and during the winter months lots of people are preparing for the cold days that will be upon us. Antifreeze is used commonly in radiators and some screen washes but did you know that it is extremely toxic to dogs?

Dogs and cats are prone to drinking from puddles, ponds and standing water which makes the susceptible to drinking contaminated water. In addition it is very sweet, so they like the taste. The lethal dose is only the equivalent of a 6ml teaspoon full.

So, why is Antifreeze poisonous to dogs and cats?

The active ingredient in antifreeze (and other products) is ethylene glycol and once drunk is rapidly absorbed into the body. Within hours it causes severe kidney damage which is very difficult to treat and in one report involving 25 cases, 96% died.

What can I do to protect my dog from antifreeze poisoning?

With such a lethal product the key is prevention. If you are using antifreeze or any product containing Ethylene Glycol please be very careful where you store it and if you spill any, please clear this away. If you have an ornamental garden pond, please don’t add antifreeze to it in the winter time. It may keep your fountains running in a cold snap, but would you risk your dogs health?

What should I do if I suspect my dog or cat has drunk antifreeze?

If you do suspect your dog or cat has drunk antifreeze then you should call a vet straight away. If the dog or cat is treated immediately after exposure it may be treated successfully. The first sign you see may be wobbliness or falling over (as if drunk). The back and kidney area can be very painful, there may be vomiting and your dog may be very very thirsty. This is all secondary to kidney failure which ultimately leads to the tragic outcome of death. Your dog will need intensive treatment, but unfortunately the survival rate is very low if the kidneys have been damaged and dogs or cats are often put to sleep on presentation at the vets.

Is there an alternative to antifreeze?

Antifreeze is one of the most life threatening poisonings that vets see, but there is some hope as there is a safer alternative. Propylene Glycol antifreeze is more expensive but safe for pets and other wildlife, so please if you have a dog or cat, consider using this instead.