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Emergency Care


POISONS

The most common type of poisoning comes when a cat ingests plant material. The list of poisonous plants is long. First and foremost, get the poisonous material out of the cat. Take the plant away if the cat is caught in the act. In most cases, try to induce vomiting to get the offending plant material out of the stomach. Some easy ways to induce vomiting are:

  • Give ¼ tsp. of syrup of ipecac once; or,
  • Give 1 tsp of a 1:1 mix of hydrogen peroxide and water (repeat a few times at twenty minute intervals if needed).

If the source of the poison is unknown, take the cat and a sample of the vomitus to the veterinarian immediately.

Do not induce vomiting in these cases:

  • Plants that cause throat irritation, such as Dumb cane or philodendron, will burn just as much coming back up as they did going down, so it is safer to leave them in the stomach.
  • Two hours after eating, most of the poison has probably entered the bloodstream, so making the animal vomit at that point does not help.
  • If the cat is unconscious or semi-conscious, chances are very good that it will inhale the vomit and suffocate.

Fortunately, chemical poisoning is not a common occurrence among cats. One way a cat will get poisoned is by walking on a poison and then licking its paws. Cats will not ingest most poisons because they are unappealing. There are many types of chemicals used in poisons, for example; rodent poisons can contain Brodifacuom, bromadiolone, fumarin, pindone,valone,warfarin, chlorophacinone, Cholecalciferol, and/or Strychnine that require different treatments if ingested. Read the label of the poison to see if specific instructions for treatment are given. If the cat is unconscious or convulsing do not attempt to treat him/her but wrap them in a blanket and get to the veterinarian immediately. Try to bring a sample of the suspected poison in its original container to the hospital. If this is not possible, bring a sample of any vomitus you find. Below is a list of common household poisons along with the immediate treatment that may be administered if a veterinarian cannot be seen immediately. Some easy ways to induce vomiting are:

  • Give ¼ tsp. of syrup of ipecac once; or,
  • Give 1 tsp of a 1:1 mix of hydrogen peroxide and water (repeat a few times at twenty minute intervals if needed).

If the cat is unconscious or semi-conscious, chances are very good that it will inhale the vomit and suffocate so do not induce vomiting in these cases.

 

COMMON HOUSEHOLD POISONS AND THEIR IMMEDIATE TREATMENT

POISON
TYPICAL
PRODUCTS
CONTAINING IT
SIGNS THAT
MAY OCCUR
AFTER
EXPOSURE
IMMEDIATE
TREATMENT

Acids

Car batteries, some metal cleaners, antirust agents, swimming pool cleaners

Local white, gray, or black burns; pain, vomiting, respiratory distress, other

Externally:

Flush copiously with water.

Internally: Do not induce vomiting, give milk or water to dilute. Antacids can also be given, baking soda solution or a single dose of one teaspoon milk of magnesia per five pounds body weight.

Alkali

Cleaning products, lye, drain openers

Local white or black burns; pain, shock, vomiting, respiratory distress, other

Externally:

Flush copiously with water.

Internally: Do not induce vomiting, give milk or water to dilute. The intestines can be coated after diluting by giving oral doses of milk , vegetable oil, or egg whites.

Amphetamines,

Caffeine

Diet and stimulant pills

Dilated pupils, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, muscle tremors, vomiting, seizures, coma

Induce vomiting; follow with activated charcoal*

Arsenic

Ant poisons, herbicides, insecticides

Vomiting, restlessness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, (may be bloody)

Induce vomiting; follow with milk or tea.

Brodifacuom, bromadiolone, fumarin, pindone,valone,warfarin, chlorophacinone

Rodent poisons

Hemorrhage, mainly internal; pale mucous membranes, weakness, vomiting or diarrhea (may be bloody). Pain difficulty breathing

Induce vomiting; consult veterinarian immediately. No effective home remedy. Signs may not appear for hours or days.

Bromethelin

Rodent poisons

Weakness, paralysis, tremors, seizures

Induce vomiting; consult veterinarian immediately. No effective home remedy. Signs may not appear for hours or days; Repeated dosages of activated charcoal* necessary.

Carbamates

Anti-flea sprays, powders, foggers; slug and snail bait; ant, roach, and water bug baits

Drooling, small pupils, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, weakness, paralysis, restlessness, seizures, coma

Externally: Flush copiously with water followed by mild detergent baths.

Internally: No good home remedy; rush to veterinarian. If veterinary care not available, induce vomiting before convulsion stage. Follow with activated charcoal*.

Cholecalciferol

Rodent poisons

Vomiting, depression, not eating, excessive thirst and urination, kidney pain

Induce vomiting; consult veterinarian immediately. No effective home remedy. Signs may not appear for hours or days.

Ethylene glycol

Antifreeze (2 tsp. will kill a 5-lb. animal)

Immediate treatment necessary to prevent death; do not wait for signs to appear

Induce vomiting and rush to veterinarian.

Fertilizer (NPK)

Houseplant and garden plant food

Vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration

Give water or milk to dilute. Take to veterinarian if signs develop.

Lead

Paints, solder, fishing weights, used motor oil, food or water fed from improperly glazed pottery

Lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, behavioral changes from subtle to seizures and blindness

Externally: Bathe thoroughly using non-alcohol-based detergent.

Internally:

Induce vomiting followed by Epsom salts (250-500mg/kg diluted in 5-10 volumes water). All exposure suspects need a veterinarian’s evaluation as signs may not develop until long after exposure.

Metaldehyde

Snail bait

Restlessness, in-coordination, muscle tremors, vomiting, convulsions

Induce vomiting if signs not yet present.

Methanol, other alcohols

Windshield washer fluid; automotive, medicinal, and cleaning products; fuels, wood finishes

Excitability, in-coordination, depression, coma, respiratory and cardiac arrest

Externally:

Flush copiously with water followed by soap baths.

Internally:

Activated charcoal*. Rush to veterinarian.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Pain, cold, cough, or allergy remedies containing, e.g., acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen

Vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal bleeding, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, death

Induce vomiting followed by activated charcoal*. Consult veterinarian.

Organochlorines

Anti-flea dips, insecticidal shampoos, ant and roach baits, garden insecticides

Drooling, small pupils, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, weakness, paralysis, restlessness, seizures, coma

Externally: Flush copiously with water followed by mild detergent baths.

Internally: No good home remedy; rush to veterinarian. If veterinary care not available, induce vomiting before convulsion stage. Follow with activated charcoal*.

Organophosphates

Anti-flea sprays, powders, foggers, dips, collars; ant and roach killers; de-wormers, pest strips

Drooling, small pupils, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, weakness, paralysis, restlessness, seizures, coma

Externally: Flush copiously with water followed by mild detergent baths.

Internally: No good home remedy; rush to veterinarian. If veterinary care not available, induce vomiting before convulsion stage. Follow with activated charcoal*.

Petroleum distillates, turpentine

Kerosene, gasoline, solvent carriers for pesticides, wood finishes, furniture polishes, lighter fluids, lamp oils

Difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation

Externally: Bathe thoroughly with non-alcohol-based detergent.

Internally: Do not induce vomiting. Consult vet. Minimal exposure may not be serious. The intestines can be coated after diluting by giving oral doses of milk, vegetable oil, or egg whites.

Phenol (carbolic acid)

Household disinfectants and antiseptics, Wood preservatives, fungicides, herbicides, photographic developer

In-coordination, muscle tremors, depression, unconsciousness

Wash with soap and water.

Induce vomiting.

Phosphorous

Strike-anywhere matches (safety matches are non-toxic), rat poison. Fireworks

Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain; apparent recovery may be followed by relapse and death

Induce vomiting followed by activated charcoal*. Consult veterinarian.

Salicylate (aspirin)

Aspirin

Weakness, lack of appetite, vomiting, fever, in-coordination, convulsions

Avoid use; spontaneous consumption unlikely

Strychnine

Rodent poisons, malicious poisonings

Restlessness, in-coordination, muscle tremors, convulsions

Induce vomiting if signs not yet present.

Theobromine

Chocolate (3 oz. baking or 1.5 lb. Milk chocolate can kill a 20-lb. Dog; equivalent quantities are unknown for cats), Cacao bean, mulch

Dilated pupils, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, muscle tremors, vomiting, seizures, coma

Induce vomiting; follow with activated charcoal*

* Activated charcoal can be both difficult and messy to administer. It can be available over the counter at drugstores in tablet or liquid form. The recommended initial dose is 1 to 4 grams per pound of body weight (2 to 8 gm/kg body weight). The liquid form is more effective.





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