These Are a Few of Our Common Pet Toxins by Heather Redmon, DVM
Madera Veterinary Hospital

Since the domestication of dogs and cats, animals have played an important part in society. The majority of us now have furry members of our families to care for. They are constant companions and depend on us for their care and well-being. However, as much as they are part of our families, they are still not little humans. Many foods and medications suitable for consumption by people can be toxic or deadly to our companion animals.

Chocolate is the number one people food that pets ingest. The toxic amount varies with the type of chocolate, but too much can cause vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate, and seizures. Grapes and raisins are also toxic and can cause kidney failure. A particularly toxic artificial sweetener, Xylitol, is becoming more prevalent as it is added to more and more products. It can be found in chewing gum and now many other foods, including some brands of peanut butter. Xylitol causes low blood sugar in dogs and can lead to seizures and death.

Although many human medications can be used in dogs and cats, there are many others that are toxic or fatal if ingested by animals. Their metabolism and physiology is different than that of humans. Therefore, many common over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen can have serious or even fatal side effects. Before giving any medications, it is best to first consult with a veterinarian.

Finally, the Christmas trees in our homes during the holiday season can pose a hazard due to the water in the stand. Since the water can contain fertilizers and bacteria, it is best to keep pets from drinking it. Do not use additives such as tree preservatives, floral preservatives, aspirin, or bleach in the water. These do not help the tree and can pose additional risks to pets that do drink the water.

The list of products that can be toxic to animals is long and each species has their unique differences. When in doubt about a particular product, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.

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