Summer is gone and autumn is here; along with beautiful falling leaves, Halloween and thanksgiving celebrations comes cooler weather and long walks; so we need to be aware of different toxins that our pets and patients may be exposed to. 

The Webinar Vet is presenting a fabulous opportunity to brush-up on our toxicology knowledge during October, with the discount code 5for50 allowing you to choose 5 toxicology webinars for £50. For more info click here. 

5 Common fall toxins:

1. Mushrooms:  

There are many types of fungi, and due to increased rainfall during the autumn, pets are exposed to many of them. For veterinarians it is can be very difficult to identify the different species. As we know, the ingestion of toxic mushrooms often causes gastrointestinal problems in our patients such as vomiting, diarrhoea, GI irritation and abdominal pain; neurological problems such as convulsions, tremors, difficulty balancing when walking and renal and hepatic failure. 

Ingestion should be considered an emergency and gastric lavage with activated charcoal is recommended to bind the poison. 

Some of the most poisonous mushrooms for our patients are: Destroying Angel, Little Brown Mushrooms, Jack O’ Lantern and Autumn Skullcap, although many are incredibly toxic to our patients. 

2. Chocolate and others: 

Theobromine is a chemical substance (methylxanthine) found in chocolate and is digested slowly by dogs and therefore accumulating to toxic levels, resulting in vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, pancreatitis, tachycardia, convulsions, high blood pressure and sometimes death. 

There are other foods that tend to be toxic or cause gastroenteritis that can be found on our tables such as fatty foods, desserts made with xylitol, as xylitol causes a sharp drop in blood sugar; grapes and sultanas can often be often toxic too, causing kidney failure due to accumulation of blood urea nitrogen or serum creatinine. 

3. Moth Balls: 

Mothballs are pesticides that are widely used during autumn. Both cats and dogs tend to be consulted in cases of poisoning, cats more often from a reaction to the chemicals, while dogs by ingestion. These cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, convulsions and blood loss. 

4. Compost Piles: 

I have always been a fan of composting and I think it is a great way to go green, in fact I have one in my backyard; but we must be aware that it must be well enclosed, and if we have pets or wildlife near our house, the compost must be well secured and fenced in, as the moulds that are created in the decomposing food are often harmful, containing thermogenic mycotoxins. Although small amounts of these can be ingested by different animals, it can generate signs such as agitation, hyperthermia, hypersensitivity, panting, drooling, vomiting, incoordination, tremors and convulsions. 

5. Antifreeze: 

A chemical more prevalent coming into the cooler months is antifreeze, which helps to reduce the freezing point of water, regularly used in cars and pipes. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is usually a sweet-tasting substance that attracts the attention of our pets. Ethylene glycol is very toxic to our pets, affecting the brain, liver and kidneys; causing vomiting, lethargy, fainting, stumbling, coma and even death with as little as three ounces of product ingested. Any animal suffering from the ingestion of antifreeze is an emergency patient and the quicker we can administer the antidote, the better chance our patient has of survival. 

With this list I conclude the 5 most common fall toxins during autumn, enjoy the cold weather during this season and if you can think of any additions to the list, please leave it in the comments.