Thanksgiving and Christmas and holiday parties are upon us and so are the times when poison control centers get a dramatic increase in calls. Here is a list of toxins where vomiting should be induced in your dog or cat, preferably within 2 hours of ingestion in order to avoid serious consequences. Some items can wait a bit longer than 2 hours, so listed at the end of each ingestion is a “ Window of opportunity” in which you can induce vomiting. Because of the potentially serious side effects of hydrogen peroxide (or Ipecac) used to induce vomiting in dogs and cats, your four legged friends should be brought to your veterinarian or emergency center as soon as you discover the ingestion.
1.) Rat poison (Anticoagulant Rodenticide) causes internal hemorrhaging 5 to 7 days after ingestion. There are different types of chemicals in different rat poisons, so if at all possible, bring the container of the suspected ingestion. Window of opportunity – 6 hours
2.) Chocolate can cause anything from vomiting and diarrhea to arrhythmias and seizures. Not all chocolates are created equal. Milk chocolate is the least toxic and cocoa beans are the most. It is important to bring the container the chocolate was in to the clinic so the doctor can get an idea of the relative toxicity of the chocolate. Window of opportunity – 6 hours
3.) Grapes and Raisins result in acute kidney injury. There is no dose dependent relationship, which means that ANY quantity could potentially be toxic. To make matters worse, the mechanism of toxicity of these items are not understood. Window of opportunity – 1 to 2 hours
4.) OTC (over the counter) Human Pain Relievers are the most common of toxicities. They include the commonly found Acetaminophen (Tylenol™) and Ibuprofen (Motrin™). Even in low doses, Acetaminophen can cause a blood disorder in cats or liver failure in dogs. Gelcaps are absorbed extremely fast so they are the most problematic of forms of these medications. Window of opportunity – 1 hour AT THE MOST.
5.) Xylitol A sugar substitute sweetener that is commonly used in everything from some peanut butters to gum, candy, low glycemic baked goods (especially those made for diabetics), and vitamins. Even ingested in relatively small amounts, it induces excessive insulin secretion leading to severe hypoglycemia, weakness, lethargy, and seizures. Large quantities (baked goods) cause acute liver failure. Window of opportunity – 30 minutes to 6 hours, depending on the dose.
Next week: the Top Five ingestions that should NEVER require vomiting!