Category Archives: Poisoning

Keeping your pets safe this Summer – Snake Alert


We are in the grips of what has been a rampant snake season, starting early this year with our first patient presenting in late August! Snake venom kills animals quickly so if you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, call ahead and we can get ready for you whilst you bring your pet straight to the surgery. That way we can start treatment as soon as possible. While it is helpful to know what type of snake has potentially bitten your pet, polyvalent antivenin is available that treats all the snake venoms common to the area.

Keeping yourself safe should be the number one priority.

Also be aware that a brown snake is not always brown in colour – it can vary with age, location and sub-species.

There have been many, many snake bites already this season from juvenile snakes and their bite is just a deadly as the adult snakes.

Ticks worst in years

Already this spring we have seen dogs and cats back from the beach with tick paralysis.

Reports from the coast say that the ticks are the worst seen in many years.

Treat your pet for ticks before you leave for the coast. Advantix must be applied 2 days before traveling down and reapplied every 2 weeks while at the coast.

Alternatively rinse dogs with permethrin before leaving and then weekly while down there.

Frontline spray is the only safe tickicide for cats. Apply 2 days before leaving for the coast and then fortnightly while down there.

Please note that Advantix and Permethrin are extremely toxic to cats. A cat brushing up against or grooming a treated dog can die of permethrin poisoning.

Supplement the tickicide application with close daily inspection of your pet. Feel inside the ears, under the arms, around the tail and in all the crevices and skin folds. Ticks love to hide in long hair. Remove any ticks you find immediately.

If your pet is weak in the legs or drooling contact a vet immediately.

Muffin mania – the dangers of sugar free sweetners

Riley is an energetic Pointer cross who helped out with the baking once too often. A couple of hours after eating a whole batch of apricot rough muffins he started drinking every bowl of water in the house dry. His owner Jenny brought him in to see us when she found he’d vomited the water up all over the lounge.

Used under licence from iStockPhoto.comRiley was very flat by the time we saw him. His gums were yellow and he was very dehydrated. The muffins contained what seemed like a list of very healthy ingredients but alarm bells rang when Jenny said that she’d used a sugar free sweetener containing xylitol instead of sugar.

While xylitol is quite safe for humans it is very toxic to dogs. It causes liver failure in dogs and is fatal if not treated intensively.

Xylitol is also found in many chewing gums and in Rescue Remedy pastilles. Wrigley’s list xylitol as an ingredient on the labels of their EXTRA Professional sugarfree chewing gums, Strongmint and Spearmint flavours. One to two sticks of one of these gums can make a small dog very ill. A whole packet might kill a Maltese terrier.

Riley spent a week in intensive care on a drip and with a combination of agents to support his liver. Next baking day he is banished to the back yard until all the muffins are eaten – by Jenny’s children!

Rat bait poisoning

Dogs love the taste of most rat and mouse poisons so keep them well out of reach of pets. Do not allow pets near areas where you have laid rat bait.

Most rat and mouse baits contain a form of warfarin. Warfarin stops the blood clotting. Owners often don’t notice signs of rat bait ingestion for a couple of days.

If you know your pet has consumed a rat bait come straight to the Veterinary Surgery. An emetic will make your pet vomit up the bait and minimise absorption of the poison.

Signs of warfarin poisoning:

  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy or resting more than usual
  • Blood in urine
  • Blood on faeces
  • Blood around teeth and mouth
  • Bruises on belly
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore joints, reluctance to walk

A special form of Vitamin K reverses the toxic effects of rat bait. Because we are never sure how much poison your pet has consumed it is difficult to know how much Vitamin K should be given and for how long. We will ask you to watch for signs that more is needed.

After the Vitamin K is finished return to the Surgery for a blood test to check that the blood’s clotting ability is back to normal.

Snakes in the grass

Miss Lucy found a snake this morning. After all the rain there is plenty of long grass for snakes to slither through. Jack Russells are notorious snake killers so snake envenomation was top of our list this morning when Lucy came in wobbly and shivery. Although Lucy lives in the suburbs snakes feel quite at home in our sprawling city. They wander in to our yards from nearby paths and paddocks in the warm weather surprisingly often.  Usually we don’t notice them. It is only when a dog like Lucy finds them that we even know they are there. Keep your grass cut and your dogs on leads when out walking so that they don’t end up in hospital like Lucy.

PS Lucy has had a dose of snake antivenom and is recovering well!