About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Vet's Clinic with Liam Moriarty - Poisonous products around your home

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Vet Liam Moriarty -

Q. Which of the following items can be highly toxic to your pet?
. Chocolate
. Antifreeze
. Raisins
. Rat poison
. Slug pellets
. Plant bulbs
. Lillies
. Paracetamol

A. all of the above
At Christmas time, it is common to be presented with a dog who has stolen and eaten an entire box of chocolates which can make them quite sick. There is a substance in chocolate called theobromine which is toxic for dogs. It is present in higher quantities in dark chocolate and cooking chocolate so be warned - and please don't give your dog any!

Antifreeze, contains ethylene glycol a substance which causes kidney failure. Unfortunately to dogs and cats it tastes sweet and a very small amount can be fatal. A car leaking a small amount of antifreeze could have tragic consequences for your pet. Every year in our clinics we see many cases where we suspect poisoning.

As dangerous as rat poison can be to pets, at least if someone suspects their dog of eating some they will know to get down to the vet quickly. What is more worrying is that many people aren't aware of the fact that raisins can be highly toxic to dogs. As few as seven raisins have been known to cause fatal kidney failure in dogs. Raisins are palatable to dogs and I am aware of cases where dogs have died as a result of raiding the shopping or the larder and eating a bag of raisins. Don't know what it is that causes the toxicity - is it their processing? Can be very dire consequences.

While it may seem obvious that you don't allow your pet near rat poison or slug pellets, all too frequently we will see a few animals who ingest these substances (typically dogs as they can be quite indiscriminate about what they eat), when mooching around in the garden or front of house.

Plant bulbs can cause kidney failure in dogs too. But they are not too common a problem.

We do not usually see as many cats with poisoning as they are fussier eaters, however there are a couple of things cat owners should be aware of. Lilies are toxic to cats and cat owners should avoid them. Every part of the part is poisonous and can give cats' renal failure. It doesn't affect dogs as they have different metabolisms. Even the pollen can rub off on a cat's fur as they stroll past and then when grooming themselves later they could lick it off. So if you suspect something has poisoned your cat try get them to stop grooming themselves.

Occasionally I have seen cats who have been given Paracetamol (or other Ibuprofen) by their owners, obviously out of care that they are in pain. Tragically cats cannot cope with this medicine, it causes gastric bleeding or liver failure. It is always heartbreaking when this occurs. The best advice I can give is never to give human medicine to your pet, unless prescribed by a vet. Also please don't give one pet's medicine to another without consulting a vet. Even animal remedies especially pain killers can be very dangerous if an incorrect dose is given. Any medicine can be dangerous. So don't give a dog a cat's medicine etc or vice versa. Ask every vet and they will weigh the animal and then decide the correct dosage.

There are many other items which can be toxic to pets - this article is just a summary of the some of the most common and dangerous ones. Xylitol is also poisonous to dogs - an artificial sweetener.

What you should do if you are concerned your pet has been poisoned?

For most of these poisons there is no antidote available. Therefore time is absolutely crucial - get to a vet clinic or vet hospital as soon as possible. If a pet has recently ingested poisoning we will induce vomiting - hopefully the poison will not have left the stomach and we can clear it from the system before it has a chance to affect your pet. We can also give medicine to try and prevent the poison being absorbed into the system. Blood tests may be needed to check your pets' vital organs or screen for toxins.

Contact your local vet without delay. For clients of Hermitage Veterinary Clinic, Lucan phone 01-6010060 and for Old Bawn Veterinary Clinic in Tallaght call 01-4140830.

Veterinary Surgeons provide emergency cover 24 hours a day 365 days per year. In our case when our clinics are closed the out of hours service is provided by the Dublin Animal Emergency Clinic ph 1890 564 036. Even if something happens at 3 am on Christmas morning their will be a vet or a veterinary nurse on the end of a phone to advise you and available to see your pet if necessary.

Liam Moriarty Veterinary Surgeon
Hermitage Veterinary Clinic Lucan
Old Bawn Veterinary Clinic Tallaght

Liam'll bring Dexter (age 1 ½years) a sausage dog in. The dog is owned by a client of Liam's -Eilis Butler. He ate rat poison 6 months ago, under a shed all blocked off, and yet he managed to eat some of it. The clients realized and brought him into the clinic. Induced vomiting and gave him a Vitamin K, injections and tablets. The sooner you know a pet has been poisoned. Get it out of their system before it has been digested within 3 or 4 hours. Something absorb quicker than other. If a dog has eaten a box of contraceptive pills and another time he ate condoms. It would make him very sick but not necessarily infertile.