Common toxins and your pet: what you need to know
Kristen Kline, DVM
Learning about common toxins that your pet may run into can be a life saver!We’re going to review what you should keep an eye out for to help keep your dogs and cats happy and healthy. This series of articles is going to review toxins by the organ system that they affect, and you may be surprised by some of them. Let’s start off with the kidneys.
Kidney or Renal toxins cause damage to one of the main filtering systems of the body. Since it is very difficult to perform dialysis or renal transplants on our pets, avoiding these toxins is paramount.
Lilies: I love lilies, some of the most fragrant and beautiful flowers, frequently used in bouquets. However they can cause rapid and irreversible kidney failure in cats! All parts of the lily plant are toxic to cats, including pollen, leaves, and stems. To be safe, if you have cats, leave the Lilies out of your centerpieces. There is no safe level of exposure to lilies for cats.
NSAIDS: aka non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are commonly used over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to this type of drug than humans, and they are easily overdosed. Never use human pain relief products for pets without consulting with your veterinarian. The dose of ibuprofen that can lead to renal failure in dogs is 175 milligrams per kilogram (385 mg per pound) of body weight and up, however gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea start at a dose of 100 mg/kg and up. Fortunately if a pet is treated quickly after ingestion of these medications we can often preserve kidney function with decontamination and fluid therapy.
Grapes and Raisins: grape and raisin toxicity in dogs is puzzling to vets because we know they can cause serious kidney damage, but the cause is poorly understood. A mycotoxin is suspected as the culprit but it has yet to be confirmed. A dose of greater than 3 grams per kilogram of body weight (6.6 grams per pound) is thought to be the threshold for renal damage. One grape weighs approximately 5 grams, one raisin weighs around 0.5 g.
Vitamin D: one of the most common vitamin supplements for humans can be dangerous to dogs. Vitamin D3 is particularly toxic, with lethal doses as low as 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Supplements are often sold at strengths from 1000-7000 IU. If the supplement is 5,000 IU the dose is equivalent 0.125 mg and fewer capsules are more likely to cause a problem. Another potential source of vitamin D that dogs may encounter are topical psoriasis creams that use calciprotriene as the active ingredient.
Antifreeze: products containing ethylene glycol are extremely renal toxic, causing a severe acute kidney failure in dogs and cats. As little as a teaspoon can be fatal for cats, and 5 tablespoons are lethal to a medium sized dog. If you need antifreeze please look for products that have propylene glycol rather than ethylene as they are much safer for our pets.