The inquisitive nature of dogs and cats can often lead them to eat things that they shouldn’t. In some cases what they ingest may be toxic and could go on to have harmful affects. We hope to make you more aware of some of the most common toxicities we see in practice, there are many others. In any circumstance if your pet has eaten something that you think may be toxic then please phone for veterinary advice immediately, the sooner it is treated the better.

PREVENTION IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN CURE – keep toxic substances out of reach of your pets.

If you think your pet has consumed any toxic substance please phone the practice immediately on 01543 262464 / 262433


Chocolate contains a compound called Theobromine which acts as a stimulate, similar to caffeine. Dogs cannot process Theobromine and so it can start to have toxic affects.

Dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of Theobromine and so a much smaller quantity is required to be toxic. The toxic dose is also weight dependant, so a small dog may will show symptoms on a much lower quantity of chocolate than a large dog.

If your dog has consumed any chocolate please contact us with details of the quantity and type of chocolate as well as the weight of your pet. We can then calculate whether your dog has consumed a potentially toxic dose. If identified early treatment may be as simple as inducing vomiting but after only a couple of hours this is no longer successful and more intense treatment regimes could be required.


Symptoms of chocolate toxicity: Vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, seizures, increased heart rate and in severe cases, death.


Deadly to cats – most types of Lily are toxic to cats. Consumption of any part of the lily, including the pollen can cause acute kidney failure which is often irreversible and fatal.

The biggest problem with lily toxicity is that owners are unaware that their cat has ingested it and the initial symptoms are very vague. Once it the symptoms become clear then often it is too late for treatment to be successful.

Our advice is again, prevention is better than cure: DO NOT keep lilies in your house / garden if you own a cat.

Anti-freeze / De-icer (Ethylene Glycol)

Can affect dogs and cats. Unfortunately its sweet taste encourages them to drink it and will sometimes lead them to consume quite large volumes.

Early recognition is essential for successful treatment but in many cases owners are not aware their pet has had access.

Symptoms include: Vomiting, salivation, lethargy which may progress to kidney failure and neurological signs (twitching, seizures). This toxin is fatal in most cases unless detected very early.

Even if you don’t own pets it is vital that you keep anti-freeze in a sealed container out of reach of pets.

Onion / Garlic

Cats are most susceptible to onions and garlic but symptoms can occur in dogs also. The toxicity can be caused by either the ingestion of raw or cooked onion/garlic or from food products that contain onion or garlic powder.

It causes a type of anaemia called Heniz Body anaemia which reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood

Other food toxicities include:

  • Rhubarb leaves

  • Tomatoes

  • Avacado

  • Alcohol

Grapes / Raisins

Toxic to dogs and causes kidney failure. Only small numbers of grapes/raisins can be toxic in some dogs.

Ibruprofen / Paracetamol

Paracetamol – Toxic to cats – causes severe and sometimes fatal damage to the red blood cells, preventing the carriage of oxygen in the blood. Only very small doses are required to be toxic.

At inappropriate doses Paracetamol can cause liver failure in dogs.

Ibruprofen – Causes kidney failure and ulceration and bleeding of the GI tract.

Macadmia Nuts

Toxic dose varies but symptoms include: depression, wobbliness, vomiting, increased heart rate, increased body temperature. Symptoms are worse if consumed with chocolate.


Xylitol is an artificial sweetner used in many “sugar-free” foods eg. chewing gum and sweets.

If eaten by dogs it causes a massive release of insulin resulting a dangerously low blood sugar.

Symptoms include: Vomiting, weakness, ataxia (unsteady on legs), depression. This can then progress to seizures, coma and eventually death.

If you know your dog has eaten foods containing xylitol and is displaying any of these symptoms, phone the practice immediately. If symptoms are severe then rubbing honey on to the gums can help to raise the blood sugar temporarily and may prevent further deterioration whilst travelling to the vets.

Garden Toxins

Snail and Slug Pellets – contain metaldehyde which can cause seizuring.

Rat Bait – contain anticoagulants which prevent the clotting of blood. This can lead to life-threatening bleeding disorders.

Strychnine – mole killer, causes respiratory paralysis and death.

Weed Killer – May conatin Paraquat which results in kidney, liver and lung damage as well as stomach ulceration.

If you think your pet has consumed any toxic substance please phone the practice immediately on 01543 262464 / 262433

Pool House Vets