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Poisoning in cats – Symptoms and first aid

By all it is known that cats are very cautious at the same time curious, but like any living being can make mistakes or be attacked. Due to these carelessness and attacks our friends with curious mustaches can be poisoned.

If you think about adopting or you already have a cat, the poisoning in cats, symptoms and first aidIt is an important issue that you should inform yourself as best as possible, as it can cause your death. That’s why, we want to help you achieve it.

Main causes of poisoning in cats

As we indicated before, cats can be very careful but they are extremely curious. This leads them to explore and try new things, which unfortunately do not always go well. Because of this, they often end up intoxicated, poisoned or injured in some way. But, thanks to the knowledge of the potential danger of some substances and some products we can prevent this from happening by keeping them out of the reach of our pets.

In case of poisoning or poisoning we can not do much most of the time, but we can identify the symptoms in time and Go to our trusted veterinarian as soon as possible. Still, there are some things we can try at home while the vet is on the way and whenever we ask and do not tell us specifically not to do any of these things that we will explain later.

Some of the most common poisons and toxics which are usually crossed domestic felines are:

  • Medications for humans (acetylsalicylic acid and paracetamol)
  • Food for humans (chocolate)
  • Insecticides (arsenic)
  • Cleaning products (bleach and chlorine)
  • Insecticides (some external antiparasitic products that we spray on our pets and in their environment)
  • Poisonous insects (cantharides)
  • Poisonous plants (cyanide)

These products, animals and plants, contain chemicals and enzymes toxic to cats that your body can not metabolize. Later, in the section on treatment, we will talk more about these products, their effects and how to treat them.

General symptoms of poisoning in domestic felines

The symptoms unfortunately They are very varied since they depend on the origin of the poisoning and the degree of intoxication. But then we expose the most common symptoms and signs that cats can present in case of poisoning:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea sometimes bloody
  • Excessive salivation
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Gastric irritation
  • Irritation of an area of ​​the skin that has come into contact with the toxic
  • Respiratory difficulty
  • Convulsions, tremors and involuntary muscle spasms
  • Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty limb coordination due to neurological problems (ataxia)
  • Loss of knowledge
  • Frequent urination

First aid and how to proceed with a poisoning in a cat

In case we detect any symptom of those described above, we must act according to the situation. The most important thing is to call the veterinarian, stabilize the animal and collect the maximum amount of information and a sample of the poison so that the veterinarian can help us as well as possible. It will always be better if at least two people help and not just one. So, for example, while one calls the veterinarian the other can try to stabilize the cat, since we should think that in a matter of poisoning time is money.

The following steps to follow are the most common:

  1. If our pet is very weak, almost faint or unconscious we should take it to a open area, ventilated and illuminated. This will allow us to better observe any other symptom in addition to offering fresh air to our friend. To lift them we must be careful and do it so that we take our whole body firmly. If we do not have an outdoor area, an area such as the bathroom or kitchen is usually well lit and have water by hand, which we most likely need.
  2. It is very important carefully remove the source of the poisoning, if we have been able to detect it, so that no more pets or humans living in the house are intoxicated.
  3. Once we can observe our mascot well we must urgently call the vet, will help us calm down, focus and tell us how to proceed immediately. The sooner we call the veterinarian the more likely our cat will survive. We must identify the source of the poison if possible, it is one of the first things that the veterinarian will ask us. This will indicate many things and one of the most important is whether the feline should be provoked or not. We should not make them vomit because they are thinking that this way we help extract the poison. We must think that if it is something that has been ingested for more than two hours they vomit, it only serves to weaken them, if they are unconscious we should never try to make them swallow something to induce vomiting and in case of corrosive substances such as acid and alkaline substances ( eliminators of oxide, bleach, etc.) and petroleum products (gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, etc.). We will never induce vomiting, as they can cause caustic burns and further damage the esophagus, throat and mouth.
  4. If we have been able to identify the poison we should give the maximum information to the veterinarian as the name of the product, its active principle, the potency, the amount that more or less the cat has been able to ingest and the time that may have passed since it did, the more indications depending on the type of poison that poisoning has produced .
  5. We should not give them water, food, milk, oils or any other home remedy while we do not know with certainty what poison was ingested and how to proceed, so it will be better to wait until your veterinarian tells you while giving you the maximum information. This is due to the fact that if we do not know exactly what we are facing, any of these foods could produce an effect contrary to what we expect and worsen the state of our friend.
  6. In case of wanting give something to drink while we wait for the vet and this does not contraindicate us, we should give them water or water with salt with a syringe.
  7. If we decide that due to the origin of the poison we should make our cat vomit follow appropriate guidelines for the induction of vomit to avoid unnecessary damage during the process. These guidelines will be discussed later in this article.
  8. Even if we get the cat to vomit, a part of the poison will have been absorbed by the intestine, so we will try to reduce the progress of this absorption of the poison. We will achieve this with activated carbon, which we will explain later on how to administer.
  9. If the contamination has been caused by a powder or oily substance and if it has been adhered to the animal’s fur, we should shake it with an intense brush in case of dust and use a hand cleaning product that removes oily substances well. If still we can not remove the toxin from the coat, we will have to cut that piece of fur, since it is better to eliminate it, than to regret that the animal gets worse or is contaminated again.
  10. In case our cat is awake and a little less dazed, and the veterinarian does not tell us otherwise, It will be good to give you fresh water to drink since many poisons that domestic cats usually ingest by accident affect the kidneys and the liver. Giving them water will reduce the impact on these organs a bit. If they do not drink it themselves, we can administer it with a syringe slowly in the mouth.
  11. Before going to your veterinarian or before he arrives home, If possible, you should keep a sample of the poison with which your cat has been poisoned, together with labels, packaging, etc. that can be part of that poison. So our veterinarian will have the maximum information to help our friend.

Treatments to follow before different causes of poisoning in cats

Next we will comment a series of treatments for the most common causes of poisoning in domestic felines, which we will only perform if our veterinarian has indicated it to us or if we really do not have another option. It is better that these measures are made by a professional than we do ourselves.

  • Arsenic: Arsenic is present in insecticides, pesticides and poisons for rodent pests. The most common symptoms in this case are acute diarrhea and sometimes with some blood, depression, weak pulse, general weakness and cardiovascular collapse. These symptoms occur due to the acute inflammation that causes arsenic in various internal organs such as the liver and kidneys. In this case, if the poison has been ingested less than two hours by our cat, the emergency treatment is the provocation of vomiting, followed by the oral administration of activated charcoal and after one or two hours administer gastric protectors such as pectin or kaolin.
  • Shampoo, soap or detergent: In these cases the symptoms are milder and easier to treat. Many of these products may contain caustic soda and other corrosive substances, so we will never induce vomiting. The symptoms that are usually shown are dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea. In case it is a small amount ingested and the veterinarian does not tell us otherwise, a good way to help our cat’s body to treat this poisoning is by giving it milk or water.
  • Medicines for humans: It is a great danger that is always close without us noticing, since we usually think that we have them well-kept or that a dog or a cat will not swallow or will not lick a pill. In addition, the problem is not only this confidence we have, but sometimes, due to ignorance, we administer any of these medications to lower their fever or calm other symptoms. It is a big mistake, since most of these medicines are not made to be tolerated by dogs or cats and although we administer the minimum dose or the one indicated for children, we will be intoxicating our companions. Therefore, never medicate your pet without consulting a veterinarian. In addition, we must know that most of these drugs are eliminated by the liver after being metabolized, but cats can not metabolize properly many medications or vitamins. Below we expose the most common medications for us but that damage the health of our cats seriously and can even cause death:
  1. Acetyl salicylic acid (Aspirin): As we know it is an analgesic and antipyretic of the most common for us. But in cats it produces a very negative effect passing through vomiting (sometimes with blood), hyperthermia, rapid breathing, depression and even death.
  2. Paracetamol (Gelocatil): It is an anti-inflammatory and antipyretic used by humans because it is very effective. But, again, it is a deadly weapon for our cats. It damages your liver, darkens your gums, causes salivation, rapid breathing, depression, dark urine and can cause your death.
  3. Vitamin A: We usually have at home vitamin complexes for the times when we want to avoid colds and other common diseases, among other things. These vitamin complexes include Vitamin A. In addition, this vitamin is found in some food supplements and in some foods, such as raw liver, which we sometimes like to give to our pets. The excess of this vitamin produces drowsiness in the domestic feline, anorexia stiffness of the neck and joints, constipation, weight loss, as well as some strange positions such as sitting on the hind legs but raising the front legs or lying down but leaving all the Weight on the extremities without getting to relax.
  4. Vitamin D: This vitamin is found in vitamin complexes, but also in rodenticides and in some foods. Hypervitaminosis D produces anorexia, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, polydipsia (extreme thirst) and polyuria (very frequent and abundant urination). This is due to kidney injuries and hemorrhages that occur in the digestive and respiratory system.
  • Coal area: Coal pitch includes various products such as cresols, creosote, phenols and pitch. They are found in household disinfectants and other products. The poisoning in case of cats for these products usually occurs more commonly by the absorption through your skin, although it is also given the intake of these. This poisoning causes stimulation of the nervous system, weakening of the heart and damage to the liver, the most visual symptoms being weakness, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes due to increased bilirubin), loss of coordination, excessive Rest being thrown and even coma and according to the level of poisoning death. There is no specific treatment. But if they have been ingested recently, saline and carbon solutions can be administered, followed by egg whites to soften the corrosive effects of the poison.
  • Cyanide: It is found in plants, in poisons for rodents and in fertilizers, among others. In the case of cats, cyanide poisoning is most frequently caused by the intake of plants containing cyanide compounds, such as rushes, apple leaves, corn, flax, sorghum and eucalyptus. Symptoms usually appear after ten or fifteen minutes after ingestion and we can observe an increase in excitability that quickly turns into respiratory difficulties, which can end in suffocation. The treatment to be followed by a veterinarian is the immediate administration of sodium nitrite.
  • Ethylene glycol: It is used as an antifreeze in the cooling circuits of internal combustion engines and is commonly known as antifreeze for the car. The taste of this compound is sweet, which attracts more than one animal and leads them to consume it. But, felines hardly distinguish the sweet taste, so this case in cats does not occur very frequently and the times that it occurs it has not usually been ingested for its flavor. The symptoms are quite rapid after the intake and can give us the feeling that our cat is drunk. The symptoms are vomiting, neurological signs, stupor, loss of balance and ataxia (coordination difficulty due to neurological problems). What should be done in this case is to induce vomiting and give activated charcoal followed by sodium sulfate between one and two hours after the poison has been ingested.
  • Fluorine: Fluorine is found in rat poisons, products for oral cleansing of humans (toothpaste and mouth rinses) and environmental acaricides. Because fluoride is toxic to dogs and cats, we should never use our toothpaste to wash their mouths, in fact they sell special toothpastes for them that also do not contain fluoride. The symptoms are gastroenteritis, nerve signals, increased heart rate and according to the level of poisoning death. In case of severe poisoning the animal should be immediately administered calcium gluconate intravenously or magnesium hydroxide or milk orally for these substances to bind with the fluoride ions.
  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine which is a chemical belonging to methylxanthines. In humans it does not cause any harm because we have enzymes that can metabolize theobromine and turn it into other, safer elements. In contrast, felines do not have these enzymes so that with little amount of chocolate can already be poisoned. Therefore, it is a human food that we can love and that is why we often give our pets as a prize some pieces of chocolate and this is a huge mistake. The symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually occur between six and twelve hours after ingesting it. The most important symptoms and signs are insatiable thirst, vomiting, salivation, diarrhea, restlessness and swollen belly. After a while the symptoms progress and there is hyperactivity, tremors, frequent urination, tachycardia, bradycardia, respiratory distress, heart and respiratory failure. The first aid treatment in this case is, as soon as we realize the intake, induce vomiting to our cat and give activated charcoal orally. If the intake of chocolate has been two or more hours ago the vomiting will not be very useful since the process of stomach digestion will have already been done. Therefore, we should take the intoxicated cat directly to the veterinarian to treat the symptoms immediately with the appropriate material.
  • Raisins and grapes: This case of poisoning is not very common, but it still happens. It occurs more in dogs than in cats. It is known that in dogs the toxic dose is 32g of raisins per kg of body weight and 11 to 30mg per kg of body weight in the case of grapes. So knowing this estimate, we know that for a cat toxic doses will always be smaller amounts. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, extreme thirst, dehydration, inability to produce urine and finally kidney failure, which can lead to death. As first aid we will induce vomiting in our pet and then we will take it to the veterinarian where, in addition to other necessary things, urination will be induced by intravenous fluid therapy.
  • Alcohol: In the case of poisoning in animals, the most common alcohols are ethanol (alcoholic beverages, disinfectant alcohol, dough in fermentation and elixirs), methanol (cleaning products such as windshield wipers) and isopropyl alcohol (disinfectant alcohol and alcohol aerosols). flushes for pets made with alcohol). Isopropyl alcohol is twice as toxic as ethanol. The toxic dose is between 4 and 8 ml per kg. This type of toxins is not only absorbed through its intake but, in fact is more common in cats, absorption through the skin is also given. Cats are especially sensitive to these alcohols, therefore we should avoid spraying them with antipulgas that are not specified for cats and that contain alcohols. Symptoms occur between the first half hour and one hour of intoxication. Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, disorientation, tremors, difficulty breathing are observed and in the worst cases due to this respiratory failure the animal ends up killing. As first aid we will provide ventilation, that is to say, we will move the animal to an external place without direct sunlight, and if the intake of alcohols has recently occurred, vomiting will be induced. We will not administer activated carbon since in this case it will not have any effect. Then we will go to the veterinarian to review and act as necessary.
  • Chlorine and lyes: Household cleaning products and those used for swimming pools contain bleach and therefore contain chlorine. Sometimes we will see that our pets like to chew the bottles of these products, to drink the water from the scrubbing bucket that contains these mixed products, to drink the water from the freshly treated pools and to bathe in them. The symptoms that occur are vomiting, dizziness, salivation, anorexia, diarrhea and depression. As first aid we will administer milk or milk with water to our cat with a syringe in the mouth in a slow way letting it go swallowing by itself. This will make the milk join the chlorine avoiding more damage to our pet. We should never induce vomiting, as it will be vomiting and causing more vomiting will only weaken more and damage the digestive tract because the bleach, chlorine and stomach acids are corrosive. In addition, we must know that you do not have to administer activated carbon since it will not have any effect. If not ingested but that the contamination is given by the skin we must bathe our cat with a soft shampoo for cats immediately and rinse it with plenty of water so that no remains remain. Finally we will go to the veterinarian for a review.
  • Insecticides: Insecticides include products that contain carbamates, chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds, permethrins or pyrethroids and organophosphates, all toxic to our pets. The signs of poisoning in this case are frequent urination, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, colic, ataxia and seizures. In this case the first aid will be the administration of activated charcoal followed by the induction of vomit with oxygenated water at 3%. Anyway, it is best to call the veterinarian

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