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Nicotine

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Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe, depending on the dose ingested

Common signs to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Incoordination
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Collapse

Nicotine is a rapid acting toxin and, often, pets will show signs of poisoning within 1 hour of ingestion. Some types of nicotine gums also contain xylitol, a sweetener which is toxic to dogs.  The acid in the stomach slows the absorption of nicotine so the administration of antacids (e.g., H2 blockers) is not recommended. Pets ingesting small amounts of nicotine often vomit spontaneously and may self-decontaminate. However, even when vomiting occurs, veterinary evaluation after ingestion is typically recommended so that the heart rate, blood pressure and neurological status can be monitored. Treatments including additional decontamination, IV fluids and medications to slow the heart rate, decrease the blood pressure or stop tremors may be needed.

Poison type: Medications

Alternate names: nicotine patches, nicotine gum, chewing tobacco, cigars, cigaretts, tobacco, cigarettes, bidi cigar, Nicorette, cigarette butts, xylitol