March is Animal Poisoning Prevention Month. Thousands of pets suffer from the accidental ingestion of harmful substances every year. That’s why we decided to chat to a qualified vet to explain the severity, causes, symptoms and treatment options for pet poisoning.

According to Dr Yulishia Devnath, a vet at Gonubie Veterinary Clinic, around 10% of the cases she treats are related to pet poisoning. And also, according to Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, Director at the Griffon Poison Information Centre, a devastating statistic revealed that over 1,000 dogs are poisoned every week in South Africa. This figure adds up to over 50,000 dogs a year! That’s a lot for something that could have been prevented through the necessary cautionary measures. Although we can’t always control what our pets nibble on or swallow, we can hide dangerous substances out of paws’ reach and keep our pets safe from strangers with bad intentions.

But accidents still happen, right? Yeah, that’s why we need to educate ourselves on the causes, symptoms and treatment options for pet poisoning.


So, what causes pet poisoning?

Dr Devnath says that Methaldehyde (slug bait), Organophosphate (pesticides) and Rodenticide (rat poison) are the most common culprits of pet poisoning.

Here’s a list of possible household poisons:

  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Furniture polish
  • Drain cleaners
  • Lead paint
  • Tobacco
  • Gasoline
  • Toxic plants
  • Antifreeze
  • Aspirin
  • Medication for humans
  • Pool chemicals

If you notice any of the below symptoms, visit a vet ASAP! Your furry companion’s life depends on your swift response.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Blood in the stool
  • Lethargic
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Inability to urinate

Dr Devnath says that the most common poisoning symptoms to look out for are neurological (seizures) and gastrointestinal (diarrhoea). If your pup or kitty is suddenly under the weather or acting unusual, it’s best to get your furry friend checked by a professional vet.


What are the treatment options?

The type of treatment depends on the severity, type of poison and symptoms. If the poison was consumed just a few minutes ago, the vet will try to get the poison out of your pet’s system. Your vet will dilute hydrogen peroxide or Ipecac to induce vomiting. This treatment is however only recommended if your pet swallowed medication such as aspirin, blood pressure pills or other human medication.  If your furry friend swallowed lead paint or other toxic substances, vomiting could cause lung infection. In cases like this, your vet may give your pet medication to absorb toxins from the stomach and intestines. Your pet may also need intravenous fluids.

TIP: Vets recommend that you give your pet activated charcoal if you notice poisoning symptoms and can’t reach a vet immediately. DO NOT give your pet milk, peanut butter, vegetable oil, salt or aspirin. In a panicked state of mind, we often think these things will help when in fact our pets can experience adverse reactions from these.


What are the chances of survival?

“The chances of a dog or cat surviving pet poisoning is 50/50”, says Dr Devnath. It’s a serious condition that should be treated immediately.

You should never take a “wait and see” approach with suspected poisoning. If you suspect that your pet might have had contact with a poisonous substance, it’s imperative that you get them to a vet as soon as possible.



Remember to get pet insurance for those expensive vet bills. Quote and buy online in less than 5 minuntes* here. Be safe, not sorry, and protect your furry companion today!