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Antifreeze poisoning and other winter toxins

Thursday, November 26, 2015

With the festive season and cold weather now upon us, we’re taking this opportunity to remind you of a few dangers this time of year can pose.

There are some potentially very dangerous plants and substances around during the winter months which can put pets at risk, these can include:

Antifreeze

Antifreeze contains a substance called ethylene glycol which is sweet to taste and very appealing to animals. Ingesting even very small amounts of antifreeze can make pets critically ill. Antifreeze poisoning in cats and dogs acts fast and should be treated urgently. Signs include:

  • 0-12 hours – depression, unsteadiness, lack of appetite, vomiting, increased drinking and urination. Signs are similar to ‘drunkenness’
  • 12-24 hours – increased heart rate and respiratory rate
  • 24-72 hours – the kidneys may now begin to fail; symptoms include severe depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and eventually death

If you suspect your pet has antifreeze poisoning, call your vet immediately so they can be treated straight away.

Holly, Mistletoe and Poinsettias

These festive plants used to decorate your house during the Christmas period can actually be toxic to pets if eaten.

  • Holly can cause tummy upsets including vomiting and diarrhoea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.
  • Mistletoe can cause severe gastrointestinal upsets, low blood pressure and a slow heart rate.
  • Poinsettias can irritate the mouth and throat as well as cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

Road salt or grit

Icy weather means the ‘gritters’ are out spreading salt on the roads and pavements. This can get stuck in your pet’s paws which may encourage them to lick at the salt. Salt can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, severe dehydration, tremors and seizures. Symptoms include excessive salivating, increased drinking, and burns to the mouth and throat.

Batteries

All batteries are potentially toxic. If your pet chews up a battery, this can cause serious chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning. Your pet may show signs such as ulcerations or burns to the tongue and mouth, heavy drooling or vomiting. If the battery has been swallowed whole, this could also cause an obstruction.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested any of the above, please contact us urgently on 01275 832410. Highcroft Veterinary Hospital has a vet available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and will be able to advise what to do next in an emergency situation.


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