Our clinic will remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More or Call Us at 970-825-5975 Get Directions

Pet Poisoning Prevention Tips

Pets are naturally curious creatures that can get them into trouble from time to time. While we never want our pets to ingest or inhale something toxic, accidents happen. As an emergency veterinarian, Royal Vista Veterinary Specialists sees many toxicity cases every month. The best advice is to always keep an eye on your pet in new environments and know what could be a potential problem.
If you think that your pet could have been exposed to something toxic or you are seeing any odd behavior have your pet seen by a veterinarian or call our hospital at 970-591-5914. Remember that awareness is the key to prevent toxin exposure. We have compiled a list of some of the most common toxin exposures to help keep your pet safe.


Xylitol is a sweetener used in sugar-free gums, candy, baked goods, and toothpaste that can be life-threatening even in small amounts. Xylitol can cause low blood sugar, liver failure, seizures, and even death. Initial signs include vomiting, lethargy, seizures, and loss of coordination. Discover more from the FDA about Xylitol poising.

Raisins and grapes can cause acute kidney failure and often requires hospitalization. The initial symptom of grape or raisin toxicity is vomiting, which is typically seen within the first 24 hours. Within the next 12-24 hours lethargy, lack of appetite, and diarrhea are common. The more severe symptoms are typically not seen until acute kidney failure has already begun. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and excessive drinking and urination.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a relative of caffeine, that is toxic to pets. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. The most toxic chocolate is typically baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate. Chocolate toxicity can cause hyperactivity, gastrointestinal upset, high blood pressure, tremors, seizures, and even death. The symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, restlessness, increased drinking and urination.

Garlic, onions, and chives (including onion and garlic powder) contain a compound that causes the destruction of red blood cells. Cats are more sensitive to this toxin, but dogs are at risk as well. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, fainting, pale gums, reddish urine, decreased appetite, panting, and vomiting.

Household products

Insecticides can cause tremors, seizures, and even death. The symptoms include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, weakness, and difficulty breathing. Never use a flea and tick preventative meant for dogs on cats. These products can be toxic, even deadly, to cats.

Rodenticides come in many forms such as granules, sprays, and bait stations. These compounds can cause kidney failure, swelling of the brain, seizures, or uncontrolled bleeding. One type of rodenticide is an anticoagulant which does have an antidote to help counteract the poison’s effects, but the other types do not. The symptoms include vomiting, retching, painful abdominal distension, and collapsing.

Fertilizers can cause an array of problems varying from mild (gastrointestinal upset) to severe (pancreatitis or bowel obstruction). Symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, drooling, and abdominal pain.

Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) is extremely toxic, even deadly, in small doses and pets love its sweet taste. Ethylene glycol poisoning causes acute kidney failure and requires hospitalization. The symptoms of ethylene glycol poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking and urination, weakness, and seizures or tremors. It can also make your pet appear to act drunk.


Dietary supplements and vitamins Some supplements and vitamins are safe for pets, but always contact your veterinarians prior to giving anything new. Things such as Vitamin D and iron can be extremely toxic in high enough doses.

Acetaminophen can cause liver damage and scarring, which requires hospitalization. Toxicity symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, drooling, lethargy, rapid breathing, and dark-colored urine. Swelling in the face, paws, and limbs is also common.

Ibuprofen and Naproxen or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can either be over-the-counter or prescription. The human version of these medications cause gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding, neurologic issues, and liver or kidney failure. This is why your veterinarian will always prescribe pet-safe NSAIDs. NSAID toxicity symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, dark/tarry stools, loss of appetite, pale gums, lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, and seizures.


Lilies are extremely poisonous to cats and should never be in their house. All parts of the plant, even in small doses, will cause kidney damage and can be deadly. Symptoms typically start to show within 6-12 hours after ingestion. These include vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy, and decreased drinking. If left untreated, acute kidney failure develops. The symptoms of kidney failure include decreased (or lack of) urination, increased drinking, tremors, acting drunk, and seizures. Lily poisoning also causes pancreatitis which is a dangerous and painful condition. Discover more from the FDA about lily poisoning in cats.

Marijuana (cannabis) can cause intoxication when ingested or inhaled. Cannabis toxicity typically is not fatal but does require veterinary care and possibly hospitalization for supportive care. Cannabis toxicity symptoms include wobbliness, hyperactivity, vocalization, dilated pupils, drooling, vomiting, increased or inappropriate urination, slowed breathing, tremors, and seizures. Discover more from the Pet Poison Helpline about marijuana toxicity.

Essential oils are especially toxic to cats when inhaled or ingested. Ingestions can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression of the central nervous system, and liver damage. Inhalation can cause aspiration pneumonia. The use of a diffuser can cause either issue for your cat because they will inhale the oil droplets and can ingest the oil from their fur when they groom themselves. The symptoms of inhalation include watery eyes, vomiting, drooling, labored or fast breathing, panting, coughing, and wheezing. If you see any of these symptoms move your cat to fresh air immediately and seek veterinary care. Ingestion symptoms include drooling, vomiting, tremors, wobbliness, and low body temperature. Discover more from the Pet Poison Helpline about essential oil poisoning.

Remember to bring what product that your pet was exposed to with you to help the veterinarian diagnose and treat and treat your pet more quickly. This allows for a quicker and more successful recovery.
If you think that your pet may have been exposed to a toxin, bring them to Royal Vista Veterinary Specialists or call us at 970-591-5914.

Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control page or Pet Poison Helpline Poison List page for a more comprehensive list of pet poisons.


Contact Us

Royal Vista Veterinary Specialists


4630 Royal Vista Circle, Ste 11 Windsor, CO 80528

Clinic Hours

Emergency department: Friday-Sunday: 24 Hours Monday: 12:01 AM - 9:00 PM Tuesday-Friday: 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM Surgery Department: Monday-Friday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM (by appointment only) Internal Medicine Department: Tuesday-Friday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (by appointment only)