Overview

Pets share our home and so are at risk of exposure to a variety of household products and chemicals. This leaflet describes some of the common household products that are involved in poisoning in pets

BATTERIES
Batteries that are left lying around or fall out of devices that have been chewed may be eaten by pets. The contents are irritant and may cause a sore mouth and gastrointestinal upset. If eaten whole they may potentially cause a blockage in the gut.

BENZALKONIUM CHLORIDE

Benzalkonium chloride is a common ingredient in household disinfectants and some patio cleaners. Benzalkonium chloride exposure can cause oral inflammation and ulceration, drooling and high body temperature. Effects can be delayed by several hours.

DETERGENT CAPSULES FOR WASHING CLOTHES
These contain concentrated detergents and can burst when wet or bitten. This can result in vomiting, breathing problems, skin and eye irritation and high body temperature.

DRAIN AND OVEN CLEANERS
Some drain cleaners and most oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) or potassium hydroxide (caustic potash). These are strong alkalis and can cause severe burns to the skin and other tissues. If eaten they may cause severe burns and swelling of the mouth and throat with drooling, pain and difficulty swallowing or breathing.

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES
These usually contain nicotine which is toxic in high doses. Although most pets who eat electronic cigarette fluid develop only mild signs (salivation and frothing at the mouth, vomiting, diarrhoea) there is the potential for more serious effects.

ETHYLENE GLYCOL ANTIFREEZE
Ethylene glycol causes kidney failure in cats and dogs. Cats are particularly at risk; the initial signs of toxicity can be subtle and easily missed, and may not be apparent until hours after ingestion. There is an antidote for ethylene glycol poisoning but to be effective it must be started as soon as possible.

WHITE SPIRIT
White spirit is often available when painting and decorating. It is irritant to the skin, eyes and the gut, and can cause oral ulceration, skin inflammation and burns, vomiting and breathing difficulties.

EMERGENCY ADVICE
Call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000 even if your pet is showing no signs to find out whether a trip to the vet is required.
• Remove your pet from the source of poison.
• Do not try to make your pet vomit –NEVER give salt water.
• Collect the poison and take a sample/container with you if you are advised to take your pet to the vet practice.