Poisonous Substances

Can dogs eat apples? Are lily plants poisonous to cats?

Are you curious about which foods or plants are poisonous to your cats and dogs? Keep your pets safe from potentially hazardous situations by being aware of which foods, plants and household items are not safe for pets.

Common items poisonous to cats and dogs:

  • Human food – avocado, chocolate, onion, garlic, grapes, sultanas, coffee beans, macadamia
  • Plants – lilies, karaka berries, azaleas, rhododendrons, chrysanthemums, daffodils, and more
  • Pesticides – ant traps, rat and mice baits, slug and snail bait
  • Poisoned pests – rabbits, possums or rats who have eaten poison
  • Chemicals – coolant, antifreeze, insecticides, weed killers, household cleaners, fertiliser
  • Human medications – paracetamol, anti-inflammatories, cough and cold remedies
  • Household items – small batteries and magnets


Cat and dog poisoning symptoms

The most common signs of pet poisoning include:

  • Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargic or weak
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Coughing up blood
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tremors, seizures, or fits


First aid for suspected pet poisoning

Call us or the Pet Poison Helpline 0800 TOX PET (0800 869 738) for advice.

If your pet is having difficulty breathing, unconscious or having a seizure:

  • Bring them in immediately!

If your pet is awake and alert before you call us, quickly help by:

  • Ingested poison: rinse or wipe out their mouth with a damp, clean rag
  • Touched poison: wash off any poison residue from their skin and fur
  • Inhaled poison: move them to fresh air, when safe to do so, away from the gas or fumes
  • Do NOT give them anything to eat or drink
  • Do NOT induce vomiting
  • Do NOT give them any medication

Be prepared, we need to know:

  • Name and description of the suspected poison
  • The estimated amount your pet was exposed to
  • The estimated time they were exposed to the poison
  • Description of any vomit or chewed up material

Why are grapes poisonous to dogs?

It is thought that tartaric acid and its salt, potassium bitartrate, are the toxic principles in grapes leading to acute vomiting and kidney failure in dogs.

All types of grapes (cooked, seedless, peeled, dried, or fresh) are toxic to dogs, including sultanas, raisins, and currants. The severity depends on the amount eaten and the size of the dog, so it is not worth the risk of allowing your dog to eat even one grape, or fruit bread and hot cross buns.

Are all lilies poisonous to cats?

Yes, as much as we may love them, easter lily, tiger lily, oriental lily, and daylilies are highly toxic to cats, causing kidney failure. The common calla lilies and peace lilies can cause mouth and gastrointestinal issues.

All parts of the plant are toxic, even pollen. Cats can ingest the pollen by grooming it off their coat. The water in the vase that fresh cut lilies sit in can also be toxic to cats. The initial symptoms include a sudden onset of severe vomiting and then lethargy.

Karaka berries and dogs, why keep them apart?

Whilst the karaka is a lovely evergreen native tree, the sweet-smelling berries are highly toxic for dogs, sheep, cows, and pigs. Dog owners should avoid planting karaka trees in the garden and don’t walk dogs near them. Symptoms include confusion, weakness, vomiting, hind leg paralysis and convulsions.

I saw my dog eating rat bait, what should I do?

Call us immediately! Rat bait can block the blood-clotting mechanisms, resulting in fatal internal bleeding. Dogs and cats are affected the same way as the intended rat, but the effect can take 3-5 days after ingestion of the bait. Symptoms include lethargy and pale mucous membranes.

Is there pet-safe snail bait?

Yes, pet-safe slug and snail bait are readily available and usually marked clearly on the pack.

Slug and snail baits, which are not safe for pets, can cause brain damage and gut irritation. Symptoms occur soon after ingestion and include panting, excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea, and muscle tremors.

Is chalk poisonous to dogs?

No. As chalk is safe for kids, chalk is not toxic to dogs - unless your dog has eaten a lot of it. In this case, call us for advice.

Are maidenhair ferns, dahlias, ficus and dogwood poisonous to cats?

Yes, dahlias, rubber plants and fig trees are, but maidenhair ferns and dogwood are not toxic to cats.

Are dogwood berries, lambs ears, hosta flowers, or clematis poisonous plants for dogs?

Yes, hosta flowers and clematis are, but dogwood and lambs ear plants are not toxic to dogs.  

Are dragonflies poisonous to cats?

No, which is good as cats love to chase, play with and hunt dragonflies.

Prevention is best!

Just like children, cats and dogs are curious and do not know good from bad, so they rely on you to keep them safe and healthy.

Help prevent poisoning by:

  • Not feeding human food to your pets
  • Choose non-toxic plants for your garden and pot plants
  • Keep pesticides and chemicals out of their reach
  • Use bait stations
  • Choose pet-safe baits


Do not delay, call us today!

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, do not delay. It could mean the difference between life and death.


The above information is provided as an educational guide only and is not a substitute for advice from your pet’s healthcare professionals. If your pet’s symptoms continue, you are concerned about them, or want further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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