Guessing games can be fun, but not when they concern your pet’s health and wellbeing. Nearly every home holds dangerous pet toxins, and you must be aware of these hazards to be able to prevent your pet from ingesting a poison. March is Pet Poison Prevention Month and the perfect time to test your skills at identifying common pet toxins. Our Tamberly Animal Hospital team has a guessing game that you’ll want to win. Read the following riddles, and guess the mystery pet toxin. 

Mystery pet toxin #1 

People may reach for this if they start to feel sick, 

But pets think it’s a treat and may try to take a lick. 

It may be safe for humans, but can be lethal for a pet

Keeping it stored securely is your safest bet. 

Pet toxin reveal: Medications — Many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications for people are highly toxic to pets. Prevent your pet from ingesting these medications:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (e.g., Aleve) are the most common toxic NSAIDs pets ingest. If your pet ingests only one to two of these pills, they may develop stomach ulcers or kidney failure.
  • Acetaminophen — Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) is another popular pain reliever for people that can be harmful to pets. Acetaminophen damages cats’ and dogs’ red blood cells, impairing their ability to carry oxygen throughout the body. In addition, dogs may experience liver damage.
  • Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications — Your veterinarian may prescribe your pet anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications. Ensure you closely follow dosing instructions, because overdose can occur easily. 
  • Heart medications Heart medications, such as calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, and angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, are incredibly dangerous to pets because they can lead to a precipitous drop in blood pressure, slow heart rate or arrhythmia, heart or respiratory failure, and coma
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) medications These stimulants can cause pets to experience agitation, and increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Left untreated, prolonged high blood pressure can impact your pet’s kidneys, and severe cases can be fatal. 

Mystery pet toxin #2 

If you have a sweet tooth, you may love this treat.

Don’t share with your pet, though—it’s not something they should eat. 

It contains methylxanthines that pets struggle to digest.

Store this sweet away from your pet—it’s the safest bet. 

Pet toxin reveal: ChocolateMost pet owners are aware that chocolate is toxic to pets and do not feed them the treat. However, accidental ingestions are common, because chocolate is readily available, and pets often eat large amounts without much thought. Chocolate contains methylxanthines, two of which—caffeine and theobromine—are responsible for pets’ chocolate toxicity. Methylxanthines act as a stimulant, affecting your pet’s heart and nervous system. Mild toxicity usually causes only stomach upset, but moderate or severe chocolate poisoning can cause your pet serious consequences, and potentially death. The more bitter the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content, which means that your pet does not need to ingest a lot to be affected. In addition to chocolate, the following human foods are toxic to pets:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions, garlic, and chives
  • Macadamia nuts 
  • Alcohol
  • Xylitol

Mystery pet toxin #3

When spring comes around, the world starts to bloom

Pets and people love the smell of the sweet perfume.

A pet who nibbles them can get quite sick 

So ensure they are pet-safe, and do it quick. 

Pet toxin reveal: Plants — Some plant species can be toxic to pets, and if your curious pal chews the leaves, sap, petals, or stem of a pet-toxic plant, they can experience a range of issues—from mild gastrointestinal (GI) distress, to acute kidney failure. Common pet-toxic plants include lilies, azaleas, cyclamens, daffodils, dieffenbachias, oleanders, sago palms, hyacinths, tulips, and chrysanthemums. Always check floral arrangements, bouquets, and houseplants to ensure they are pet-safe, or place them out of your pet’s reach. For a complete list of hazardous indoor and outdoor plants, consult the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants list.

Mystery pet toxin #4

You work hard to keep your home clean.

Pets can be messy, if you know what we mean.

You scrub until you can eat off the floor.

But trouble can come to pets who explore.

Chemicals abound as you clean all the rooms

For a pet who breathes them in, trouble can loom. 

Pet toxin reveal: Household cleaning products — Many household cleaning products contain chemicals—including, bleach, ammonia, chlorine, formaldehyde, phenol, and isopropyl alcohol—that can cause toxicity if your pet ingests them. Store all cleaning products securely, and always choose pet-friendly household cleaning products when possible. When you use disinfectant sprays, keep your pet out of the room until the chemicals dry.

While we hope that your pet never runs into trouble.

If they do, contact Tamberly Animal Hospitalon the double.

The ASPCA Poison Control Center can be helpful, too.

Get your pet the care they need, whatever you do.