Do you have a headache or are you suffering from the flu? Keep the painkillers away from your pet! The annual reviews of the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) show that most acute poisonings in animals are caused by human medicines. In the top three are paracetamol, ibuprofen and the contraceptive pill.

Dangerous medications

Dogs and cats are very sensitive to the substances in painkillers. According to the NPIS, which is increasingly consulted by veterinarians, eating just one pill can get them into trouble. It’s important to never give your pet medication for humans, not even diarrhea inhibitors for humans. The substance loperamide that may be in them is very toxic to some dogs.

Biggest culprits

When it comes to animals, the NPIS is mainly consulted about poisonings in dogs (70 percent) and much less about poisonings in cats (24 percent). With 23 percent, human medicines are the main cause of poisoning in animals, followed by poisonous plants and animals (21 percent of cases) and pesticides and disinfectants (18 percent).

Cats in particular appear to be very sensitive to the toxins in lily species

Toxic plants

Grapes (Vitis vinifera, especially for dogs) and lily species (genus Lilium, especially for cats) appear to be the most dangerous plants when it comes to poisoning. Grapes, raisins and currants are highly toxic to dogs and cats and can cause gastrointestinal distress, drowsiness and kidney failure. Cats in particular appear to be very sensitive to the toxins in lilies, which can lead to serious kidney failure. Eating parts of the hydrangea (genus Hydrangea) can also cause health problems.

Poisonous animals

Poisonings in dogs and cats are primarily caused by plants and much less frequently by other animals. The most dangerous animal top-three consists of toads (43 percent), insects (21 percent) and snakes (17 percent). Several toad species excrete toxins through their skin. Insects often involve stings from bees or wasps, for example, and annually there are a few reports of dogs being bitten by a viper.

Grapes can be very toxic to dogs and cats!


Poisonings are also caused by pesticides, especially insecticides (agents against, for example, fleas, lice and other parasites) and rodenticides (agents to control rodents, such as mouse and rat poison). Poisonings from insecticides mainly occur because cats are treated with flea medication that is actually intended for dogs. This can be life-threatening! Bait boxes for ants are especially dangerous for dogs.

...but also our food

It doesn't always have to be poison to be dangerous: also 'normal' food for humans like chocolate and coffee (caffeine, e.g. ingested by the coffee pulp from a filter bag) can cause (serious) health problems in dogs and cats, as well as onion, garlic, avocado, macadamia nut and xylitol, an artificial sweetener in candy and chewing gum but also in for example gingerbread. Therefore it’s important to look at the composition of a product to see if it does not contain toxic nutrients for your pet.

Call in help!

Do you think your dog or cat has been poisoned? Quickly call in professional help! The often-heard advice to give the animal (kitchen) salt to make it vomit is outdated: the salt can be more toxic than the ingested substance! Nor is it always wise to make an animal vomit, for example when sharp objects or corrosive substances are involved.

Looking for information?

Want to know more about poisoning or do you have other questions about the health of your pet? Don’t hesitate to contact the Prins CareTeam for all your questions.

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Annerike from the CareTeam

Questions about your pet's behaviour? The CareTeam loves to help you with free advice!