Cabinet of CleanersMany species love to chew. That spray bottle, aerosol can or other container under your cabinet can be deadly if an animal punctures it and ingests the liquid inside. Some cats spend time pouncing on the greenery – but as few as two petals or leaves from “true” lilies (Easter Lily, Tiger Lily, Day Lily and Asiatic varieties) can be fatal to our feline friends! Knowing what to do and having the necessary tools on hand can avert a minor injury or a major disaster.

Size does matter when it comes to poisoning. What could kill a Chihuahua may have no effect on a Saint Bernard. The ability for any potentially poisonous substance to cause health issues is proportional to the animal’s body weight. Additionally, every item on a poison list may not harm every animal, but, if it has made the list, a significant number of animals have had an adverse reaction to it, so err on the side of caution for your pet’s sake.

Chocolate accounts for 50% of the calls received by the Pet Poison Helpline. It is most poisonous to dogs, cats and ferrets. Although antioxidants in dark chocolate are considered good for human hearts, the darker the chocolate, the worse it is for many animals. The culprit is theobromine — both a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic, which can speed up the heart while pulling fluids from the body resulting in rapid heart rate and breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and even death.

One ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight can be fatal to our pets. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of theobromine which means the less it takes to have the same ill effects.

The basic formula is below, but realize some pets are more sensitive and can be harmed by less than the amount provided on a chart:

  • Milk Chocolate – 1 ounce per pound of body weight
  • Dark Chocolate – ½ ounce per pound of body weight
  • Baker’s (unsweetened) Chocolate – ¼ ounce per pound of body weight
  • Dry Cocoa Powder – 1/8 ounce (less than one teaspoon) per pound of body weight
  • Cocoa Bean Mulch – Due to the variation in manufacturing, the concentration of theobromine can vary depending on the manufacturer. However, if you suspect    that an animal in your care has ingested cocoa bean mulch, seek veterinary



  • Every year thousands of pets needlessly suffer, and many die, from ingesting substances in our homes and even from human food. Be proactive in making sure   that an animal’s environment is free of potentially hazardous substances:
  • Get down on all fours and look at life from your pet’s point-of-view, (indoors and out), and keep harmful items out of paw’s reach.
  • Install childproof locks on cabinet doors if you share your life with curious critters.
  • Read labels and purchase “pet friendly” chemicals and cleaners.
  • Remember that when you have a dog or cat, you have a four-legged toddler for life.

It is your responsibility to keep your pet safe and supervise where your pet goes and what they can get into. 



  • Vitals not normal
  • Rapid or decreased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing or heavy panting (which also often indicates pain)
  • Slow CRT — Shock
  • Muscle tremors or seizures
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea, sometimes with blood
  • Drooling or foaming
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Redness of the skin, ears, eyes, any body part
  • Lethargy or anxiety
  • Blisters or sores on the mouth or skin where poison made contact
  • Swelling
  • Elevated or decreased heart rate, breathing or body temperature
  • Anything that is not normal for your pet!


  • Phone numbers for your Veterinarian and poison control easily accessible
  • ASPCA Poison Control Center Hotline (888) 426-4435
  • Pet Poison Helpline/VP (800) 213-6680 … Fees Apply
  • Know the weight of the animals in your care so that you can properly administer solutions (only on the advice of a Veterinarian).
  • Needle-less Syringe, eye dropper or turkey baster
  • Water or non-fat yogurt for diluting poison
  • 3% Hydrogen peroxide for inducing vomiting
  • Plastic zip lock bag to collect vomit sample


  1. GATHER INFORMATION if you know (or suspect) that a pet has been poisoned:
    • Determine the type of poison, how much ingested and how long ago.
    • Check the animal’s vital signs (temperature, heart rate, respiration, capillary refill time, gum color).
    • Observe symptoms (difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures,

bleeding, etc).

  • Stay calm and react to the situation in a reasonable manner. If possible, read the container label of the substance that you suspect the animal has ingested.
  • Immediately call your Veterinarian or poison control and do exactly as instructed. 

2. REACT – Induce vomiting or dilute poison in your pet’s bodyAdministering Hydrogen Peroxide for Poisoning

To induce vomiting (may be recommended if the animal has ingested food or non-caustic toxins – ones that don’t burn):

  • With your veterinarian’s okay, give your DOG* fresh, bubbly, non-expired 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. It may however, irritate his stomach for up to two weeks after.  Dosage is ½ – 1 teaspoon per 5 lbs. of the dog’s body weight (1-2ml/kg) DILUTED WITH EQUAL PARTS WATER!  Also, 1 Tablespoon per 15 lbs. if that is an easier calculation. Once the animal has swallowed all of the hydrogen peroxide, have the animal stand in front of you and give him a vigorous belly-rub. He should vomit within 5 minutes. If not, you may administer a second dose, but if he does not vomit in 5-10 additional minutes, proceed quickly to veterinary help.
  • If your pet vomits, collect a sample and take it, the poison container and your pet to the Veterinarian ASAP to be sure all toxins have left the body and that your pet is suffering no ill effects.


To dilute

If you suspect that an animal has ingested a potentially caustic substance, or if you have no idea what he may have swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Proceed immediately to your Veterinarian while getting fluids into your pet’s body to dilute the toxic substance. Water or non-fat yogurt are generally the best options as many pets will vomit up cow’s milk.

3. GET TO THE VET taking pet and poison with you.


Hydrogen Peroxide and Syringe


*DoNOT use Hydrogen Peroxide on CATS as it can inflame the stomach.  In rare cases, it has proven fatal.  Inducing vomiting in a cat at home should never be done!  At onset of toxic ingestion, get the kitty to your closest veterinarian or animal emergency center.  Dexmedetomidine is the veterinarian’s best choice yet it works just over half the time in cats and can be reversed with atipamezoleXylanzine is another option, but both of these drugs have the side effect of sedation on the cat.


Emesis is typically done for food items, medications, ingestions of large quantities, certain rodenticides and small dull objects in dogs, but as mentioned above, get cats quickly to the veterinarian to have this procedure done with prescription-only medications.

CAUTION:  Do not induce vomiting in canines that have a history of aspiration, have congestive heart issues, are laterally recumbent or very lethargic as the potential for aspiration into the lungs is higher.  Also be very careful with brachycephalic breeds for this same reason.  Never induce vomiting if the dog has swallowed a sharp object, corrosive object (batteries) or hydrocarbons (gas, motor oil, kerosene)!




Chocolate and caffeine first affect a bird’s digestion system resulting in vomiting and/or diarrhea.  Next he begins to have central nervous system failures resulting in seizures and death.

Salt causes dehydration, kidney dysfunction and death, so NO, NO, NO to crackers, crisps and potato chips!

Avocados (especially the skin and the pit) cause fluid accumulation around a bird’s heart and lungs making breathing difficult.  Avocados from Guatemala seem to be the most toxic containing high levels of a fatty acid derivative known as persin, so beaks off guacamole!  There is no antidote but your avian veterinarian can provide supportive therapy.

Apple seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide, and many plants can be harmful.



  • Bird has been free roaming or you discover toxin in cage
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Diarrhea
  • Distress of any sort


  1. Call avian veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661 with bird’s weight, toxin, how much consumed and symptoms.
  2. For caustic toxins (acid, alkalis, petroleum products), feed milk mixed with egg white or olive oil through an eye dropper to dilute as you travel to veterinary care.
  3. It is generally too dangerous to induce vomiting in a bird due to the possibility of aspiration into the lungs so get to bird ER




Grazing on a lawn that has been treated with fertilizer or insecticide or allowing your rabbit or guinea pig to free-roam in the house can lead to them ingesting toxins!


  • Pawing at the mouth or excessive salivating may be clues other than breathing difficulty or collapse


  1. Do not attempt to induce vomiting! Rabbits cannot throw-up.
  2. Quickly transport to vet bringing along poison if known.




Ingested Poisons…

Posted by Sunny-Dog Ink on Thursday, March 28, 2019

And if you share your life with other species, be sure to check out my classes and books on birds, rabbits and pocket pets at

For 20 years Denise Fleck’s Sunny-dog Ink motto has been “Helping people to help their pets,” and she has…personally having taught close to 20,000 pet lovers animal life-saving skills and millions more on “The Doctors,” CNN, “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life,” Animal Planet and other TV shows.  Denise is a frequent conference speaker, developed a line of pet first aid kits, written a dozen books and now offers classes online.  

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