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Our pets really do have a habit of eating potentially dangerous objects and substances, both at home and outside. Young pets in particular, who are naturally more inquisitive and like to explore items with their mouths, are most at risk. Puppies and young adult dogs are often presented to the vet with vomiting caused by swallowing foreign materials – toys, wood, corn cobs, peach stones and bones are fairly common, but anything is possible! Cats are more prone to ingesting string or cotton. Quite often these items can pass through the digestive tract with supportive care provided by the vet, others will require surgical removal if they are causing an obstruction
Poisonings are also common; fortunately the majority are accidental rather than malicious. Poisonings in dogs include chocolate, slug baits, rat baits, human prescription medicines, car anti-freeze and, more recently, grapes or raisins. Chocolate poisoning is most frequently seen by vets around Easter time when families hide chocolate eggs in the garden for the children – please be sure that they recover them all!!!
Common poisonings in cats include bleach or floor cleaner, lilies, and paracetamol. Treatment of poisoning often includes induction of vomiting to remove toxin from the body, binding of remaining toxins with activated charcoal, and supportive care. In certain cases, a specific antidote can be administered. The best advice we can give to owners is to avoid having in the home or garden, any substances, which could be a potential risk to their pet. If that is not possible then safe and secure storage is mandatory!
Download a useful guide produced by the British Veterinary Association on pet poisons (opens as a PDF).