Key Pet Poisons – are your clients aware? 

How many of your clients are aware of the danger that antifreeze poses to their cat? Or if their puppy consumes foods containing xylitol, the artificial sweetener they could be in for an emergency trip to see you?


agria-poison-bannerAgria Pet Insurance is running a theme of Responsible Pet Ownership during February and March, they are encouraging the veterinary world to help clients gain a better understanding of pet poisons and toxins.
If you work in practice, you’re in a unique position to advise owners of specific threats to their pets. By simply sharing what you know, you could save a pet from an unpleasant or possibly fatal dose of poisoning.

One of the easiest and most effective way of informing the greatest number of clients is while they’re a captive audience in your waiting room. Agria has produced a poster outlining some of the key threats to cats and dogs – details of how to get yours are below.

So what are the major hazards, and what advice can you give?


Anti Freeze

It may seem an obvious one, but many pet owners are unaware of the severe danger this poses to their animals. Christian Hughes, vet at Fivelands Veterinary Centre in Birmingham, comments,

At this time of year we do see cats coming in with antifreeze poisoning, just from licking up spillages on the ground or containers left open. Failure to treat this promptly can result in kidney failure and death.”

As well as informing clients to keep products containing ethylene glycol well away from pets, suggest safe alternatives – such as propylene glycol.


Every Day Foods

Every day foods that you will come across regularly such as artificial sweeteners, grapes and onions can cause serious harm to dogs. Xylitol the artificial sweetener can cause hypoglycaemia and liver damage, grapes can cause renal disease and onions can cause Heinz body anaemia. Ensure that you encourage your clients to keep these foods out of reach from their dogs and that when they are disposed of their canine friends can’t get to them.


 Rock Salt

When the temperature dips and pavements are treated with rock salt, owners need to be aware of its toxicity to dogs. As well as causing irritation to their paws, if they are allowed to lick it off – which is likely if it is making their pads uncomfortable – the result can be sickness.

Simply rinsing a dog’s paws when it returns from a walk will remove the salt.



The unseasonably warm weather for the early part of this winter has caused daffodils to sprout already in many parts of the UK. Shoots can be pretty tempting to dogs that like to dig, but unfortunately ingesting bulbs can cause anything from vomiting to fitting.

This is another one where supervision is the answer, especially for dogs given free rein in the garden.


Rat Poison

Cold weather brings mice and rats into houses and outbuildings, leading to an increase in poison being put down, especially in animal-free homes. Unfortunately rodenticides are very appealing to dogs, which is why they are one of the most common causes of poisoning seen in practice.





International Cat Care, currently running the campaign ‘Keeping Cats Safe’ in conjunction with Agria, feel that many poisonings could be prevented if only owners knew the risks.

Claire Bessant, from the charity, says;

Accidental poisonings are heart breaking because they are so often preventable – owners just weren’t aware of the dangers.  Even worse, sometimes people are trying to help their animals – such as when owners give paracetamol, unaware that it can be lethal for cats.

Vet Christian Hughes, from Fivelands Veterinary Centre in Birmingham, is all too familiar with the consequences of pets ingesting poisons and toxins;

At this time of year we see cats coming in with antifreeze poisoning. Unfortunately they like the taste and will lick it up from spillages on the ground or containers left open, and if not treated promptly, this will cause kidney failure and death to occur.

For more information on this campaign or to get in touch regarding how you could work with us; email us here  or

call 03330 30 83 90