Pet Poisoning Comber Greenway

There have been many stories in the media regarding poisoned pets in the Ards and Comber area, with specific reference being made to dogs poisoned on the Comber Greenway. Indeed, our own practices have dealt with several of these cases and I was briefly interviewed on UTV Live regarding these worrying developments.

We are often asked about poisoning so I thought it would be useful to put out some general information on this stressful subject.

How do pets get poisoned?

Many cases are accidental…the dog who breaks into the owner’s medication, the chocolate cupboard or indeed has one two many of his own prescription medications. Or perhaps the cat who becomes strangely attracted to the slug pellets left out in the flowerbeds or discovered in the garden shed. Similarly, pets can get hold of rat poison left out as part of a pest control enterprise or stumbled upon in unsecured storage.

Unfortunately some cases of animal poisoning are deliberate. We have had disputes between neighbours that took a sinister turn when one individual attempted to poison his neighbour’s dog. We have also seen cases where a kindly lady was leaving out food for stray cats over the winter but her not-so-kindly neighbour disagreed and tried to poison them all with anti-freeze.

When we take into account common household items like chocolate, lilies, raisins and grapes that may be poisonous to our furry friends, it makes for quite a long list!

With the recent Greenway cases, we are fairly certain that some were deliberate (dog food laced with tablets left out in the undergrowth) while some may have been accidental (dogs finding dumped prescription medications in a bush)


What are the signs that my pet may have been poisoned?

Because the list of potential poisons is huge, so too are the symptoms. A dog who ate the owner’s heart tablets may have a slow heart beat and low blood pressure, while the one who ate a kilo of dark chocolate may have a rapid heart beat and raised blood pressure.

A cat who eats one type of rat poison may show signs of fits and neurological issues, while a cat who eats a different rat poison may bleed internally showing bloody poo, pale gums and red urine.

There is no ‘catch all’ diagnosis of poisoning.

Sometimes, we get lucky and an owner catches their pet in the act…the guilty looking schnauzer and the empty Easter egg box or the hungry Labrador and the empty tablet package. In those cases we can make the pet sick with a simple injection, but this has to be done within 2 hours of ingesting the substance.

In less obvious cases, we would look for unexplained signs of illness… twitching, drooling, vomiting, bleeding etc etc. When put together with a suspicion of poison in a previously healthy animal, we can begin to come to a diagnosis.

Sometimes blood tests are necessary to determine liver or kidney damage. Unfortunately there are no easy ‘CSI’ type tests that can quickly identify a poison type. At lot of the diagnosis comes down to investigation, client reports and clinical signs.

What can be done to treat poisoning?

Again, this depends greatly on what type of poison has been ingested. Warfarin type rat poisons cause bleeding, so the animal requires clotting agents. Slug bait causes fits so they require ant-seizure drugs.

Tablets ingested in the last hour can be vomited up with an emetic injection, while acidic substances are better flushed out than brought up.

Your vet will know the best approach and the likely prognosis of a poisoning case.

What should I do if I suspect my pet has been poisoned?

Ring us straight away 02891818898! We have 24 hour on call service and are able to advise you or see your pet at any time of the day or night.

If you have a sample of what your pet ate, bring it with you… it will help with diagnosis and treatment.

How can I keep my pet safe?

For the time being, we’d recommend keeping dogs on a lead on the Greenway…that way you can control what they do and what they eat.

Keep cats away from lilies in the house…the pollen can be toxic.

Wipe up any spills of antifreeze…it is very palatable to cats and dogs and extremely toxic to their kidneys.

Keep chocolate, animal and human medications away from curious kitties and prying pups!