Common Poisons (Cats & Dogs)

What may be an everyday food to you or I can be fatal if consumed by your pet. Below are a few of the most common causes of poisoning in cats and/or dogs.

If your pet is injured or unwell, don't delay contact your local practice! Contact details can be found here!

Adder bites

In certain areas of the Midlands, particularly Cannock Chase you might come across an adder when out walking in the warmer months, as they tend to bask on the footpaths in the sun. The European adder (Vipera berus) is recognised by a thick, dark brown, zig-zig all the way along its back. It is the only venomous snake native to the UK. If your animal is bitten by an adder, symptoms are usually noticed within hours and the severity depends on the location of the bite. These can include excessive salivation, nausea, lameness, changes in breathing and lethargy. The sooner veterinary attention is sought the better. Keep your animal quiet and ideally carry them from where they are if you are out walking.

Allium species

Garlic, onions, shallots, spring onion, chives and leeks can, if ingested cause vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, pale gums and abdominal pain. Symptoms can present from 24 hours or a few days, but if treated the outcome can be favourable. Cooking of such products does not reduce the level of toxicity. Note that such food items can be present in baby food, cooking sauces, takeaways and condiments plus they can cause red blood cells to burst.


This product is used frequently in car maintenance, screen wash and in some water features in the winter. Ingestion can lead to FATAL renal failure. Cats are affected by lower doses than dogs. Just a lick off a cat’s paw can be enough to be a fatal dose. Symptoms include vomiting, disorientation and neurological signs (wobbliness) and collapse.


Generally the darker the chocolate the higher the level of toxic component present although high quality white chocolates have more toxin present that the low quality milk chocolate. The greater the volume ingested, the greater the risk of toxicity. Symptoms are usually rapid in onset to include vomiting, diarrhoea, neurological signs and drinking more. Any animal that has eaten chocolate should be assessed by a vet. If treated early the outcome should be favourable.


Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants in any form, if ingested can lead to kidney failure. Early treatment is essential.


Lilly species such as the true lilies and the day lilies are extremely toxic to cats and ingestion can cause FATAL kidney failure. Symptoms such as vomiting, drinking more, depression and convulsions may be seen. Early treatment is essential.

Mouldy food

Mouldy foods, such as cheese, bread, compost and fallen fruits can contain certain toxins that can cause, vomiting, diarrhoea, neurological signs and convulsions. More commonly seen in dogs than cats, particularly those who are bin raiders and scavengers.


Paracetamol is not metabolized by the liver in the same way by dogs and cats as it is by humans. NEVER give paracetamol to your cat as it can be fatal. Never give paracetamol to your dog unless advised to do so by a vet.


This is generally fatal in cats and can be fatal is dogs as is cannot be metabolised (broken down) by their bodies the way it is in humans Immediate veterinary attention is required to initiate treatment ideally within an hour of swallowing the Ibuprofen.

Slug bait

Slugs in the garden can be a pest, particularly with the worry of the transmission of lungworm to dogs. However, using a product which contains metaldehyde, if ingested can rapidly cause symptoms in cats and dogs from twitching to convulsions. If ingested immediate veterinary attention must be sought.

These are just a few of the more common veterinary poisons. There are many products that can be poisonous to our beloved pets, so if you are worried that your animal has eaten something they shouldn't have, it is best to seek veterinary advice.