Toxicity Awareness Month

Toxicity Awareness Months at Granville Island Veterinary Hospital are
August & September

Common Toxicities For Dogs And Cats


Acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol)  

  • Although this drug can be used in dogs, it has a narrow margin of safety.
  • In cats it is; rarely, if ever used.
  • In cats: poisoning results in methemoglobinemia (a type of severe red blood cell damage).
  • In dogs: liver failure, “dry eye”, and in large amounts; RBC injury may be seen.


  • Alcohol can be found in hand sanitizers, household cleaners, and even food!
  • Symptoms: drooling, vomiting, distended abdomen, coma, and even death.

Aloe Vera  

  • Symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, changes in urine colour, and rarely; tremors. 


  • Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which is extremely toxic to all species.
  • Found in deicing agents, automotive antifreeze, motor oils, photography developing agents, and some paints.
  • As little as 1 tbsp in dogs and 1tsp in cats can cause severe acute kidney failure or death.
  • Symptoms: Drunkenness, excessive thirst/urination, halitosis, panting, and lethargy

Avocado pits  Back to Top

  • Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of stool production.


  • Symptoms: drooling, pawing at mouth, difficulty swallowing, and abdominal pain.

Blue-green algae

  • This algae actually contains a cyanobacteria which affects nervous system
  • Signs include vomiting, lethargy, shock, weakness
    • Seen after dog ingests or swims in affected water


  • Symptoms: hyperactivity, vomiting, tremors, seizure, and collapse.

Compost piles/bins

  • Toxic to pets and wildlife
  • Create mycotoxins as they decompose
  • Clinical signs include agitation, panting, drooling
  • Signs can show within 30 minutes to several hours


  • Chocolate contains a mixture of, theobromine and caffeine; this forms a stimulant which is toxic to dogs and occasionally cats.
  • Symptoms: hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, collapse, and possibly death.


  • All parts of the plant including the bulb are toxic.
  • Symptoms: drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal breathing, and cardiac arrhythmias.

Flea and tick products 

  • Make sure that cats don’t have access to the ones labeled “dog only”


  • Most fertilizers are considered toxic, due to varying amounts of heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides.
  • Symptoms: drooling, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, and “muddy” coloured gums.


  • Usually just a frightening hazard
  •  Make sure pet doesn’t chase a lit fire cracker
  •  Causing burns on paws, mouth and face or GI if they ingest it
  •  Chewing on some brands can cause kidney failure

Garlic, Onions, Leeks, and Chives  

  • Causes oxidative damage to red blood cells.
  • Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, exercise intolerance, collapse, and pale gums.

Grapes, Raisins, and Currants  

  • Ingestion of even small amounts can cause severe, acute kidney failure.
  • Symptoms: abnormal drinking/urinating, halitosis, inappetance, and dehydration.

Heat and Humidity

  • Not a direct poison, but animals don’t sweat like humans, so they over heat fast
  • Cars can quickly get up to 150+ degrees
  • Do not treat dogs with ice water, rather cool water and immediately seek veterinary attention

Ibuprofen  Back to Top

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS). 
  • These drugs are used sparingly in cats as it is tolerated poorly.  
  • Can cause severe kidney failure, poisoning, or overdose.
  • Symptoms: bloody vomit or diarrhea, pale gums, loss of appetite, lethargy, and halitosis, and death.
  • ** Never give your pet ANY drug without consulting your veterinarian first!


  •  Extremely toxic and potentially fatal to cats.
  •  Common varieties include: Tiger, Easter, Stargazer, and Red lilies.
  •  Can result in severe, acute kidney failure.
  •  Symptoms: lethargy, hiding, diarrhea, vomiting, halitosis, abnormal drinking and urinating, seizures, and death.

Macadamia Nuts  

  • Symptoms: severe lethargy, tremors, joint stiffness, and hind end paralysis. 


  • Symptoms: severe depression, walking drunk, dribbling urine, vocalization, seizures, and coma.


  • Heavy metal poisoning.
  • Symptoms: vomiting, lethargy, walking drunk, low heart rate, and death.


  • Symptoms: drooling, walking drunk, collapse, seizures, and death.

Mole and gopher baits

  •  Contain zinc phoshides which causes gas formation in the stomach
  •  As a caution to us, if we release the gas from the pet’s stomach, it can be hazardous to us.
  •  Could contain a neurotoxin

Mothballsole and gopher baits

  •  Can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin and gastrointestinal system.
  •  Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drinking and urination, tremors, seizures, and potential kidney and liver injury.

Mouse and Rat Poison  

  • Toxicity is dependent on the active ingredient found in each rodenticide.Each ingredient has a different mechanism, therefore; different treatment and symptoms.
  • If you are concerned that your pet has eaten rodenticide, inform your veterinarian immediately!


  • Most are not toxic
  • If your eats a mushroom, induce vomiting to be safe
  • Ensure that the pet stays alert and upper airway stays open
  • Bring mushroom pieces in paper towel to your vet
  • Signs of toxicity include abdominal pain, ataxia, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors


  • If made from a cocoa bean causes occasional toxicity
  • When mulch is fresh, it has a chocolate aroma

Onions and garlic

  • Large concentrations cause anemia
  • Wild onions are more toxic
  • Cats and cows are more sensitive than other animals


  • Grasses is generally non-toxic to dogs
  • Tomato plants
    • Part of the nightshade family
    • Green tomatoes are the worst
    • Toxin decreases as the tomato ripens
    • Signs of toxicity include GI irritation, ataxia and weakness               
  • Poinsettias
    • stems and leavescause GI irritation and vomiting
    • not deadly in small amounts       
  • Easter Lilies
    • All parts cause depression, vomiting and diahrrea in cats
    • If untreated cats will die of kidney failure


  • Now a days, this is not the concern it used to be, as the active ingredients are used in lower concentrations
  • More likely to cause pancreatitis or a foreign body block
  • Check the label for more instructions


  •  Symptoms: drooling, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, blindness, and seizures.

Rhubarb and Starfruit  

  •  Symptoms: Inappetance, lethargy, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, and blood in urine.

Stone Fruit Pits  

  • This is any fruit with stones (or pits) in the centre. 
  • Pits contain cyanide.
  • Symptoms include: dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, and bright red gums.

Salt water toxicity

  • Though we don’t really live by a beach, it is interesting
  • Causes salt poisoning because of high levels of salt in the sea
  • Signs can follow in a quick progression include walking drunk, depression, seizures
  • Easiest to prevent is by offering bottled water when at the beach

Tea Tree Oil  

  • Severe poisoning can result from as little as 7 drops of 100% essential oil.
  • Symptoms: weakness, walking drunk, tremors, coma, and liver damage.


  • Symptoms: vomiting, abnormal respiratory and heart rate, in coordination, seizures, tremors, paralysis, and collapse.

Tulip and Hyacinth bulbs

  • Symptoms: drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing.


  • Natural, sugar- free sweetener found in many mints, gums, foods, and toothpastes.
  • Symptoms: weakness, collapse, seizures, black tarry stool, and liver failure.

Horse Chestnuts  

  • Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, coma, and convulsions.

The sooner treatment is adminstered the greater chance your pet has of making a full recovery.

Back to topBack to Top