Call Today

Most Common Toxins Affecting Pets in Pennsylvania

Most Common Toxins Affecting Pets

March is pet poison awareness month so let’s find out the top toxins reported in Pennsylvania. 

  • Chocolate is the top reported toxin exposure in pets across the board. Compounds in chocolate like theobromine, methylxanthines and caffeine can cause elevated heart rate, seizures and can even be fatal if enough chocolate is ingested. Chocolate is not recommended to be fed to any pets and can be toxic to ferrets, birds, reptiles, rabbits as well as dogs and cats.  Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate but if you suspect your pet has ingested any chocolate, seek veterinary advice or treatment. White chocolate is not toxic nor is carob which is often used as a chocolate substitute.
  • Lilies are the top toxin reported for cats.  Calla lilies, peace lilies and lilies of the valley are not true lilies and may only cause gastric upset.  However, true lilies include Asiatic, Easter, Stargazer, Tiger and Daylilies are highly toxic to cats. All parts of the plant including flowers, leaves, stems, pollen and even the water in which cut lilies are kept can be deadly.  A toxic compound in the plant causes kidney failure within 12-24 hours. Cats will become lethargic, stop eating, and become rapidly dehydrated. You may also see vomiting, drooling and increased urination.  Keep ALL lilies away from cats! Lily toxicity is often fatal and is difficult to treat once symptoms appear. If you suspect your cat has had any exposure to lilies, seek immediate veterinary care.
  • Carbon monoxide/gas poisoning is the top reported issue in birds (chocolate was number 2) resulting in 32% of all toxin exposures in pet birds in PA.  The unique and sensitive respiratory tracts of birds makes them especially sensitive to airborne toxins and gasses like carbon monoxide and natural gas.  Obviously, carbon monoxide is not good for any people or animals, but birds become ill at much lower concentrations—as low as 900ppm can cause illness in birds. Birds are also sensitive to smoke, air fresheners, cleaning supplies, nail polish and acetone, paint, etc. Birds may exhibit signs of wheezing, labored breathing, or lethargy but sudden death is also possible with acute exposure

Be aware of common poisons like chocolate, lilies and gasses/aerosols that may pose hazards for household pets. If you suspect your pet may have ingested or been exposed to any toxin, call a pet poison hotline and/or seek immediate veterinary care. Prompt decontamination, supportive care and administration of an antidote if available can save lives but early intervention is key.

Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661

ASPCA Poison hotline 888-426-4435

NOTE: poison control hotlines are available 24-7 but they do usually charge a fee for advice. However, a poison control hotline is the best way to determine if your pet has been exposed to a toxic dose and to get the most up to date, best treatment options available. 

This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.