Everyone knows that certain human foods and products can be harmful for your pet animals, such as chocolate, onions and grapes (including raisins). In this blog post, we wanted to raise awareness of some less commonly known products which can be harmful to animals, two of which we have seen recently and one which has been in the news. Many people won’t be aware of the potential dangers these products can present to your pets.
Over the counter spot on products
Over the counter spot on products (which can be bought without prescription) can represent a potentially fatal risk to cats. A popular ingredient in these spot on preparations marketed for dogs is a group of compounds called Permethrins. Cats have a neurological reaction to Permethrins which is very severe and unfortunately often fatal.
Signs include twitching, walking abnormally, muscle tremors and seizures and can begin soon after exposure or can be delayed up to 72 hours. Not all dog spot-ons contain Permethrin and those that do usually contain warnings regarding contact with cats. However, despite this, accidents do happen. We always recommend paying particular attention to the packaging.
Recently, we saw a cat suffering from Permethrin poisoning. The owners had taken care to apply the product only to their dog as directed. Contact between the cat and the dog was enough to cause a severe reaction in the cat. He required overnight hospitalisation and treatment for seizures but was lucky enough to make a full recovery. Poisoning cases like this where the cat has not had the product applied directly demonstrate how little is required to produce a serious adverse reaction.
If you think your cat may have been exposed to permethrin, the affected area should be washed with a gentle detergent and rinsed very thoroughly and veterinary advise sought.
International cat care (formerly FAB Cats) has a campaign and information page on the risk of permethrin poisoning in cats which can be found here: ICC – Permethrin
The increasing popularity of E-cigarettes has led to nicotine containing liquids (in refills) being found in the home. E-cigarettes currently lack regulation which results in a huge variation in strengths, formulations and storage types of this product.
A recent sad case involves a puppy which chewed a nicotine containing E-cigarette refill which had been accidentally dropped. Soon after, the puppy started showing signs of nicotine poisoining, including salivation and vomiting. Despite the efforts of the local vet who saw it, the puppy could not be saved. BBC News – ‘Dangerous’ e-cigarette nicotine capsule kills puppy
We advise all owners to take extra care with handling and storage of these, and to treat them like medicines. Storage in a place out of accidental reach of children is advisable as well.
Xylitol is an additive which is becoming increasingly more common in foods. It is used as sweetener so most often found in ‘sugar-free’ items such as chewing gums but can be found as a granulated sweetener. BVA – Artificial Sweeteners
Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, causing their blood sugar to drop suddenly and to critically low levels. Ingestion of even a small amount of the granulated product can be enough to be fatal. Quick veterinary attention is required in the case of suspected xylitol poisoning. If you suspect xylitol ingestion in your animal, contact us immediately and keep all packaging to show us.
Although poisoning is generally quite rare, it pays to be aware of the products which can cause problems. Many human medicines can also cause problems in animals and should never be given without discussing it with us first. In the event of any suspected poisoning or ingestion of a strange substance, our friendly team is always happy to provide advice and see your animal urgently when necessary. Please feel free to contact us on 01443 491433 and speak