Poisons

Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol)

During the winter months antifreeze is often used during the cold weather along with screen washes and de-icers. These products contain ethylene glycol or methanol which are poisonous but unfortunately appear quite palatable to our pets.

Pet owners and people who use these products should ensure that they are stored well out of the reach of pets and in secure sealed containers. Numerous poisoning cases especially in cats occur because antifreeze has been left outside for cats to drink in people’s gardens.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Loss of balance/unable to walk properly
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Convulsions/severe twitching
  • Kidney damage

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your cat has been exposed to ethylene glycol. Symptoms can start within 30 minutes of ingesting ethylene glycol but it can take a couple of days before kidney failure is seen. Unfortunately treatment is not always successful and euthanasia can be the kindest option.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Ethylene Glycol Poisoning

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Household Products

Chocolate (Theobromine)

Chocolate is one of the most common causes of poisoning in dogs. Generally the higher the percentage of cocoa or the darker the chocolate is the more poisonous it is to dogs. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine and in large quantities this can cause problems with their heart and central nervous system.  Dogs should never be given chocolate as a treat and all chocolate should be kept well out of the way from inquisitive dogs.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • An increase in thirst
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Hyperactivity
  • High temperature and blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythm and tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma and death

If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate and you are concerned please contact your vet immediately. Make sure you have the details of the chocolate consumed to hand as this will help your vet calculate whether the amount that has been consumed is toxic or not.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet -Chocolate

Grapes and Raisins

It is not very well known among pet owners that these fruits can be poisonous and many people do give them routinely as treats. It is not known why grapes and raisins can be poisonous to some dogs but it has been found that in certain quantities dogs developed acute kidney failure.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Depression
  • Acute renal failure

You should seek immediate veterinary advice if you suspect your dog has ingested a quantity of grapes or raisins and you are concerned.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Grapes and Dried Fruit

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Harmful Foods

Human Pain Relief Medications

Pet owners often give human painkilling medication to their pets in an attempt to relieve pain without seeking advice from a veterinary surgeon. Human preparations should not be given to animals as this is highly dangerous, especially for cats as just one paracetamol tablet is enough to cause severe illness or death. On occasion dogs have been poisoned by ingesting Ibuprofen and other pain relief tablets that have been left within their reach.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding from the gut
  • Severe stomach ulceration
  • Kidney and liver failure

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you have administered or your pet has ingested any human medical preparations.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Ibuprofen

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Paracetamol Poisoning In Dogs

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Paracetamol Poisoning In Cats

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Human Medicines

Lillies

Although lilies are very pretty flowers to look at and have in our gardens and homes, they are extremely toxic to our pets, especially cats. This can include the Easter, Stargazer, Tiger and Asiatic lilies. Kittens can be prone to being poisoned by them due to their naturally inquisitive behaviour and habit of eating things. Older cats are at just as much risk from lilly poisoning when they brush against the flowers causing pollen to rub off on their coats. This is then ingested when they groom themselves. As little as one leaf can cause kidney failure in a cat.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Depression
  • Respiratory problems
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Kidney damage

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lilly. Check the labels on the flowers for warnings of toxicity to animals.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Lillies

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Plants and Poisons

Onions and Garlic

These ingredients regularly feature in our own food but can be toxic to dogs and cats. They contain a chemical compounds which provide the odour and taste we associate with these foods. If your pet absorbs these chemicals it can cause damage to their red blood cells resulting in a life threatening condition called haemolytic anaemia. Any type of onion or garlic product can cause a problem for pets, cooked or not. Poisoning usually occurs after a large quantity is ingested or if repeatedly eaten at regular intervals. Symptoms can be seen within 24 hours but it is more common to occur over a few days.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your dog has ingested onions or garlic and you are concerned.

Rat Bait

This is a relatively common type of poisoning. Typical ingredients include warfarin and bromadiolone. These anticoagulant rodenticides do not produce signs of poisoning for several days after it has been ingested and they cause internal bleeding which can be fatal. The rat bait interferes with the body’s ability to produce clotting factors.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Weakness
  • Pale gums and lips
  • Nose bleeds
  • Bloody urine and faeces
  • Bruising on their body

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your pet has ingested rat bait. Remember to ensure you take the container or details of the ingredients in the bait as this is vital information for your veterinary surgeon.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Rat Bait

Slug/Snail Bait (Metaldehyde)

Metaldehyde, the common ingredient in some slug baits is an extremely serious type of poisoning and is usually fatal without urgent emergency treatment. Pets are attracted to the bait due to the resemblance to kibble.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Salivation
  • Twitching
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever
  • Fast heart rate
  • Respiratory failure

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your pet has ingested slug bait. Remember to ensure you take the container or details of the ingredients in the bait as this is vital information for your veterinary surgeon. You should never use slug bait containing Metaldehyde if you have pets.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Slug Bait

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Pesticides and Garden Products

Ehrlichiosis

What is Ehrlichiosis?

Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by certain species of ticks called the Rhipicephalus species affecting white blood cells. It is passed on when a tick feeds on the blood of an infected dog or cat and then bites another.

Symptoms vary widely and may include:

  • depression
  • fever
  • swollen glands
  • bleeding into the eyes, from the nose, into the skin (bruising) and elsewhere
  • vomiting
  • nasal discharge
  • lameness

Chronic infections may progress to chronic debility, weight loss, arthritis and neurological disease including convulsions.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is confirmed from blood samples and treatment in the early stages is usually by antibiotics. Long standing infections are less likely to respond and may prove fatal.

Prevention

You can help protect your dog against Ehrlichiosis by using suitable veterinary advised parasite prevention products that protect against the ticks that carry the disease.

Please ask us about our FREE Travel Clinics which help you plan the appropriate disease prevention measures and also check your pet’s microchip is still active. Remember to prepare well in advance as some parasite prevention products need to be applied well before any possible exposure to parasites. Please contact your local branch for an appointment.

Leishmaniasis

What is Leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis is an infectious and often fatal disease transmitted by sandflies. The disease is caused by a protozoon, which is taken in by the blood sucking sandfly when it feeds on an infected dog and completes part of its lifecycle in the sandfly’s gut.

Sandflies are so called because of their colour. They inhabit all areas not just sandy beaches. Sandflies are prevalent in France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal as well as many more popular holiday destinations. They feed at dusk and night and are more active in the summer months. Where possible try to keep your pets indoors as it becomes dusk while abroad.

The disease often starts as facial hair loss and weight loss, spreading to cause damage to the immune system and organs.

The most common symptoms are:

  • weight loss
  • eye, liver and kidney disease
  • skin disease

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is usually made from blood tests or microscopic examination of tissue samples.

If untreated the disease is usually fatal but even with treatment it is not curable as the dog remains permanently infected. Symptoms can develop from a few months to several years after a visit abroad.

Prevention

You can help protect your dog from Leishmaniasis by using suitable veterinary advised products. These are designed to kill the sandfly that carry the disease. There is also a vaccine available which offers protection against Leishmaniasis all year round. An initial course of 3 vaccines are required followed by an annual booster.

Please ask us about our FREE Travel Clinics which help you plan the appropriate disease prevention measures and also check your pet’s microchip is still active. Remember to prepare well in advance as some parasite prevention products need to be applied well before any possible exposure to parasites. Please contact your local branch for an appointment.

Useful links:
Canilesh Owner Information Leaflet

Lungworm (Angiostrongylus Vasorum)

How does my puppy or dog get lungworms?

Lungworms are worms that your dog can easily pick up by coming into contact with slugs or snails (carriers of Angiostrongylus Vasorum) when rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass or picking up toys which have been left outside. Transmission to puppies has also been reported to occur through the bitch regurgitating food and then licking and cleaning her puppies.

What problems do lungworms cause?

The adult worm lives in the heart and major blood vessels supplying your dog’s lungs. Here they start laying eggs which will hatch into larvae and move through the body in the dog’s bloodstream towards their lungs.  Larvae are coughed up, swallowed and once in the stomach they will pass through the digestive system and be passed in your dog’s faeces. It is most commonly a problem in younger dogs; it can persist in older animals but often with no clinical signs. Coughing, wheezing, retching, blood clotting problems and sometimes bringing up white froth are some of the symptoms.

This photo is taken from a post mortem we performed on a dog suffering from a heavy burden of lungworm.

The clinical signs mentioned are not specific for lungworm and it is important that you should consult your veterinary surgeon if your puppy or dog has a cough, as there are several other possibilities.  Also secondary bacterial infections are common with lungworm and will require extra treatment.

If left untreated lungworm infection can often be fatal. 

How do you control and prevent lungworm?

There is a ‘spot on’ product available from your veterinary surgeon which is effective in preventing and treating lungworm along with fleas, ear mites, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, heartworms, demodex and sarcoptic mange.

Useful links:
www.lungworm.co.uk
www.itsajungle.co.uk

Flystrike In Rabbits


During the summer months your rabbit is at an increased risk of having Flystrike. This is caused by flies which lay their eggs on your rabbit usually in the hindquarters area. These eggs then hatch into maggots in as little as 12 hours, burrowing into your rabbit’s skin and eating it away. This causes extensive external and internal wounds. The fly season generally runs from April to October so your rabbit could potentially be at risk most of the year. High risk rabbits are those that suffer from obesity, dental disease, diarrhoea, arthritis and those kept in dirty hutches that attract flies.  It is always important to check your rabbit daily but during the summer they should be checked at least twice a day. If Flystrike is not treated early enough it can be fatal.

Prevention of Flystrike

We recommend that you check your rabbit at least twice a day, paying particular attention to their rear end to make sure it is clean and dry. 

Feed your rabbit a regular balanced diet to help prevent diarrhoea.

Regular cleaning of the hutch is essential to make sure that the bedding is dry and insect free.

During the summer months covering your rabbit’s hutch with an old net curtain can help stop flies from entering their hutch through the mesh.

Your rabbit can be protected from Flystrike by applying a product available from the veterinary practice. This product contains a growth inhibitor and once applied it will prevent any fly eggs from hatching into maggots.This should be applied from the middle of the back to the rear end including the hind legs making sure that the whole bottle is used each time. This product cannot be used in pregnant or lactating rabbits or applied onto broken skin.  Rabbits must be over 10 weeks of age for use and protection lasts for approximately 8-10 weeks.

There is also a germicidal wound spray with insecticide available which repels insects, eliminates maggots and is effective against fleas, flies, mosquitoes, ticks and lice. This product kills any existing eggs and will repel any larvae present which will die within 30 minutes. The spray can be applied to open wounds and is ideal for use in rabbits, guinea pigs and other small rodents. Once sprayed it will last for 7 days.

Treatment for Flystrike

If you discover maggots on your rabbit, it is essential that you contact your veterinary surgery for emergency treatment. The maggots will be carefully removed and the wound(s) if present will then be cleaned. The damage to the skin and surrounding tissue will need to be assessed.  Sedation or anaesthetic may be required depending on the severity of the case. In some cases the damage caused by the maggots is too severe to treat and the only option is euthanasia.  However many rabbits survive and heal well with intensive nursing. This includes antibiotics, analgesia (pain relief) and intravenous fluids.