There are many human foods that aren’t good for our pets. Alcohol, avocados, onions, and chocolate are just some of the human foods that pets can’t have but there are plenty of other things that your pet might come across that can be potentially fatal. Antifreeze is made for cars but it’s an odorless, sweet liquid that can be appealing to some pets and even children. Rat poison can be fatal, even if indirectly ingested by eating a rat or mouse that died from poison. And while cooked salmon can be really great for dogs, raw and/or decomposing Pacific Salmon can cause all sorts of issues for your dog. Prevention is by far the best way to make sure that your pets or local wildlife don’t get sick or die but knowing the symptoms and treatments can help you act fast.


For cars, antifreeze is a common engine maintenance fluid that can sometimes be found leaking under cars in the summer or accidentally spilled during winter engine maintenance. It can be used in some cabin plumbing systems or in a few other situations. While it’s incredibly useful, antifreeze is very dangerous for humans and pets if ingested. And unfortunately, it’s an odorless syrupy liquid and has a sweet taste, which can make it interesting to both animals and children.

Symptoms from this type of poisoning are almost always sudden, usually happening 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. But some symptoms, like seizures, vomiting, low body temperature, swollen kidneys, and sores or ulcers in the mouth can appear 36-72 hours later. More immediate symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in cats and dogs include:

  • Drunken behavior
  • Euphoria/Delirium
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated movement
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Excessive urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Seizures/Convulsions/Shaking tremors
  • Fainting

Quick medical intervention is important in any antifreeze ingestion/intervention. Fecal or vomit samples, while gross, can help speed up diagnosis and can help your vet better understand what’s going on with your pet. The goal with treatment for this is to prevent absorption of the antifreeze, especially the primary ingredient of ethylene glycol, remove the toxins, and prevent your dog’s body from chemically processing the ethylene glycol into other toxins.


Rat poison 

Like antifreeze, rat poison is another household item that can be fatal to dogs and cats. And it’s not just the actual poison and traps you have to be wary of, as some animals, like dogs, cats, and owls, are susceptible to indirect poisoning if they eat a rat or mouse that ingested poison.

Symptoms of rat poison ingestion for dogs include paralysis, tremors or seizures, diarrhea, stomach pain, bloody stools or vomit, lack of coordination, and more. Cholecalciferol is a common ingredient in some rat poisons that can cause kidney failure in dogs, which in turn causes increased thirst and urination, weakness, dehydration, and bad breath.

Immediate medical intervention from a vet and induce vomiting if you think your pet ate rat poison can potentially save your pet. Bring along some of the rat poison in a secure bag if possible, as knowing what kind of poison and its ingredients can help your vet with a diagnosis and treatment.


Decomposing Pacific Salmon

Salmon oil and salmon food can both be really great for dogs and cats. Salmon oil, for example, can help with dry and itchy skin and has tons of essential fatty acids. Some dogs don’t like or react well to salmon oil but overall, it can be a great supplement to add. While salmon can be really great for dogs, decomposing Pacific Salmon and raw or smoked salmon can cause illness or even death if ingested by your dog.

Common symptoms of salmon poisoning include lack of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, weakness, and dehydration. If left untreated, death will often happen within two weeks of eating the infected fish. Salmon poisoning only affects dogs, which is why other animals (like bears, cats, and raccoons) can all eat raw fish.

Salmon poisoning is especially dangerous to your dog because of a parasite called Nanophyetus salmincola and a rickettsial organism called Neorickettsia helminthoeca. Weirdly enough, the parasite has to be infected with the rickettsial organism for the raw or decomposing salmon to be dangerous. However, it’s still better to be on the cautious side and not share raw salmon or let your dog eat some while out and about.

Quick treatment from a vet can help your dog recover from salmon poisoning and most dogs will show drastic improvement because of medical intervention within a couple days. An antibiotic and a ‘wormer’ will kill the rickettsial organisms and parasite respectively and intravenous fluid can help any dog that’s dehydrated.


Prevention is by far the best way to make sure that your pets don’t get sick from any type of poison or toxin. Keep an eye on your pets while on hikes or on the beach. Make sure that antifreeze and any spills are cleaned up and kept out of reach for dogs, cats, and children. If you do have a rat problem, consider non-toxic (and even humane) solutions. The Barn Owl Trust has some non-toxic ideas on controlling any rat or mouse infestation, as it’s not just household pets that can be harmed by rat poison.

If your pets do ingest poison or some other toxins, immediate medical care is critical. Knowing where your local emergency animal hospital is always good to know and have a handy list of phone numbers, like your vet, the emergency vet, and poison control. While they can be helpful, many poison control hotlines do charge for their services.

All of this can be really scary but it’s important to remember what to do in an emergency and stay as calm and clear-headed as possible. Documenting symptoms, when they started, and what your pet could have gotten into will all help your vet understand what could be going on.

%d bloggers like this: