15 August 2019
15 August 2019,

What to do if you suspect your pet has been poisoned:

A quick guide on prevention and quick reaction

It is important to remember that foods and substances that are perfectly wonderful for us humans are not always safe for our furry and feathered friends. A good rule to live by is never leaving human food and products – be it cosmetics, supplements, ointments, medications, cleaning products – within their reach. All sorts of “people-friendly” products – from toothpaste to chocolates – can be dangerous to pets!

I think my baby was poisoned, what do I do?

If you suspect that a pet has been poisoned, contact the veterinarian immediately. If possible, take the container and a sample of the substance you suspect the pet may have ingested with you so the vet can have a look and know how to best treat the pet.


Other important steps:

– get your pet to fresh air if the poisoning is primarily from noxious fumes or gas, but don’t put yourself at risk

– wear protective gloves and remove the substance from the skin if poisoning is through contact

– use paper towels or clean rags to remove liquids

Signs of poisoning

Inhaled poisons

Coughing, drooling, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness or coma.


Swallowed poisons

Can cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, staggering, disorientation, convulsions, lethargy, loss of appetite, twitching, dilated pupils, ulcers, heart palpitations, and coma.


Contact poisons

Chemicals or plants that come into contact with your pet’s skin can cause irritation.  You may see signs of discomfort, agitation, excessive scratching or licking, swellings (hives) or pain. If severe, skin can appear red and ulcerated or bleeding under the coat.

What are the most common pet poisons?

The following is a list of common poisons – keep these substances away from pets! This list is not exhaustive – many other substances may cause poisoning. If you find that pets are acting strangely, have any of the above symptoms or have had access to anything they should not have had access to, treat it as a suspected poisoning.

Slug/snail pellets:

Metaldehyde is a common ingredient of slug/snail baits or pellets. Metaldehyde poisoning is extremely serious and is usually fatal without urgent treatment. Pets may initially appear unsteady on their feet and twitchy, but may rapidly deteriorate and suffer continuous convulsions and possibly respiratory failure.



Chocolate (and other products containing cocoa) contains theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs and cats. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, hyperactivity, high temperature and blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm and tremors.


Rodent Poisons:

Note that not all rodent poisons are the same – again, it is important to take the container to the vet so she can have a look at exactly what she is dealing with and treat the pet appropriately. Poisoning may cause life-threatening bleeding; effects may not appear for several days. Bleeding may be internal and isn’t always visible.


Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants:

Any quantity of these can be toxic to dogs. Raisins can also be toxic to cats. Cooking or baking doesn’t reduce the risk of poisoning. Poisoning may initially result in vomiting and diarrhoea and subsequently in kidney failure (which may occur a few days after the initial effects).



Should a home be targeted by criminals, chances are that this is the substance they will use if they attempt to poison the dogs. Albicarb resembles poppy seeds – small, black granules. It is readily available on the ‘black market’ and the number of animals poisoned with illegally obtained poisons in South Africa has increased steadily in recent years. After rushing a poisoned animal to the vet, please report the incident to the police as this is a crime they need to investigate.



Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener commonly found in many chewing gums, mints, foods (e.g. pudding and gelatin snacks, etc.), oral rinses, toothpastes, and over-the-counter supplements (e.g., sugar-free multivitamins, fish oils, etc.). It is poisonous to dogs. Signs of xylitol poisoning include weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, tremoring, seizures, jaundice, malaise, black-tarry stool, and even coma or death.

In a nutshell, take your pet to the vet without delay! If possible, grab the container they ate from – if the vet can see what type of poison it is, treatment will be much easier and likely much more successful.


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Contact us today and we will arrange a free meet-and-greet with a suitable pet sitter near you.

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