Household poisons 2: outline of ten uncommon intoxications (Proceedings)


It is not uncommon for veterinarians working with companion animals to run into suspected intoxications where the actual toxicant cannot be identified.

It is not uncommon for veterinarians working with companion animals to run into suspected intoxications where the actual toxicant cannot be identified. There is almost never a lack of potential perpetrators of these dastardly deeds, because of the somewhat morbid, seemingly natural inclination for people to think there is someone who hates them enough to kill their pet. However, clients are often reluctant to consider or are unaware of the wide variety of household products and "medications", both legal and illegal, which if consumed in large enough quantities, can result in potentially lethal intoxications. Animals most likely to become intoxicated are young, overly curious, bored, hungry, just plain stupid and destined to eventually be a Darwinian phenomenon, and/or any combination of the preceding factors.

In 2008, the most common intoxications about which the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) received inquiries included Human Medications (more than 50,000 calls), Insecticides (31,000 calls), People Food (15,000 calls), Rodenticides (8,000 calls), Veterinary Medications (8,000 calls), Plants (8,000 calls), Chemical Hazards (5,500 calls), Household Cleaners (3,200 calls), Heavy Metals (3000 calls), and Lawn Products (2,000 calls). The purpose of this particular presentation is to provide pertinent information regarding specific toxicants representative of those broad categories, which veterinarians will most likely encounter at some point in their small animal practices, but much less commonly than those toxicants discussed previously. The information outlined below will be presented in an interactive format, which will hopefully be helpful in the diagnosis and management of the intoxications being reviewed.

List of non-toxic substances for dogs and cats

     • Water-based paints

     • Toilet bowl water

     • Silica gel

     • Cat litter

     • Glue traps

     • Glow jewelry

Antidepressants/other neuroactive oral medications

     • Antidepressants

     • Srotonin Syndrome

     • Other Neuroactive Oral Medications

Brewing/wine making supplies

     • Hops

     • Yeast and Ethanol

Endocrine disrupting chemicals

     • Bisphenol A (BPA) and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)

Herbal preparations

     • Ephedra and Guarana

     • 5-Hydroxytryptophan

     • Yohimbe

Nutritional supplements

     • dl-Methionine and Other "Natural" Supplements

Other human oral medications

     • Over-the-counter Cold and Sinus Medications

     • Prescription Oral Medications

Potpourri and essential oils

     • Potpourri

     • Essential Oils

Topical ointments

     • 5-Fluorouracil and Vitamin D Analogs

Veterinary medications

     • Amitraz

     • Macrolide Endectocides


     • Sugar-free Gum and Related Products

Helpful references for busy small aimal practitioners


Gfellar RW, Messonnier SP: Handbook of Small Animal Toxicology and Poisoning, 2nd Edition. St. Louis, Mosby, 2004.

Peterson ME, Talcott P (Eds): Small Animal Toxicology. St. Louis, Elsevier-Saunders, 2006.

Plumlee KH: Clinical Veterinary Toxicology. St. Louis, Mosby, 2004.


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