Citizen Pet Article "Poisons"

Humans like to prepare for any situation that we may encounter.  We stock our cars in the winter with blankets, sand and flares for the event we break down.  Medicine cabinets usually have band aids, muscle creams, pain meds, just in case we experience an illness.  Now think about your furry companions; what do you have prepared for your cat or dog if an emergency were to occur?  Would you know what to do?

In a day and age where our pets can live longer, we socialize our pets with other pets and where they have become more a part of our families, we should also take the responsibility to know how to care for our pets if an emergency were to occur.  In no way by learning Pet First Aid is it to replace regular medical attention from a veterinarian.  Pet first aid is to give animal lovers the skills to assist in a first responder capacity until veterinarian attention can be accessed.  The students that have attended my pet first aid classes range from the novice pet owner, pet owners with accident prone pets, members of animal charities, employees of doggie daycares, etc.  All of the students have the same goal which is to ensure they are equipped to give the best care possible to the animals they are responsible for.

As we start to move into the colder weather and the holiday season quickly approaches we also enter a time where we should be a little more vigilant with our pets.  Whether due to carelessness or ignorance, the majority of the time when our pets are poisoned it is due to human error.  Although poisons can be ingested, absorbed, inhaled and injected I am going to just discuss the ones that are ingested as this is the most common. 

Chocolate – The darker and less sweet the chocolate the more dangerous it is.  It contains the highest methylxanthines (like theobromine and caffeine).

Caffeine – found in coffee, chocolate, chocolate covered coffee beans, tea, pops, diet pills and weight supplements. Small amounts may not have enough caffeine to cause poisoning but moderate amounts can cause death in small dogs or cats.

Alcohol – most people know that you shouldn’t give your pet alcoholic drinks, but don’t forget about the rum balls, rum soaked fruitcake where the alcohol is not burnt off in the baking process.

Hand/foot warmers – contains iron which consumed in higher amounts can be very toxic.

Macadamia Nuts – high phosphorus content is believed to cause bladder stones.

Yeast Dough – can cause a build up of gas in your pet’s digestive system.  In some cases this can be very painful and can cause stomach to intestine ruptures.  In some cases can result in GDV “bloat” which can cause death within hours.

Raw Eggs – can contain the bacteria of Salmonella and E. coli that can be just as harmful to pets as it is to humans.  As well raw eggs can contain an enzyme – avidin – that begins to block vitamin B which can cause coat and skin problems.

Xylitol – it is a sweetener in gum, candy and toothpaste.  Can cause increased insulin to be released which can lead to hypoglycemia and then liver failure.  As little as a few pieces of gum can begin to cause issues in a 20 pound dog.

Salt – can lead to sodium poisoning.  Found in day to day table salt, salted nuts, chips, de-icers.

Batteries – whether it’s chewing on the remote control or getting the new batteries for the wrapped gifts under the tree it can cause ulcerated burns.  If a battery is punctured there is that risk that alkaline to leak out. 

Glow Jewelry – great little necklaces, bracelets for kid’s stockings but can be dangerous to our pets.  Contains dibutyl phthalate which isn’t highly toxic but till a toxin.  Especially with cats since they end up ingesting more because of cleaning their fur and paws more than their dog counterpart.

Antifreeze – smells and tastes sweet.  As little as a tablespoon can cause kidney failure in a dog and as little as a teaspoon can cause kidney failure in a cat.

Ice Melt – as it contains sodium or salt like ingredients.

Poinsettia, Holly & Mistletoe- are actually considered mildly toxic to cats and dogs, but still toxic.

How many of these were you unaware of?  If you are ever unsure if an item is poison for your cat or dog contact your veterinarian.  They are more than happy to ensure you and your pet have a great healthy winter and holiday season.

Krista DeCarle

Royal Pooch Pet Services

Pet First Aid Instructor for Walks ‘N’ Wags







Pet First Aid item to have on hand

Sterile gauze

Gauze bandages

Tensor bandages

Triangular bandages

Latex gloves

Medical tape

Vet wrap


Scissors – I prefer medical scissors with flat edge to deter accidental cuts

Cold pack



Your veterinarian’s and emergency phone numbers


To learn what these items are for and how to use them I invite you to join me for one of my pet first aid classes.  Mention this article and receive 15% off your sign up.