Fact vs. Fiction: Common Misconceptions About Pet Poisonings

By Michelle Willis, RVT, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist


Time: All poisons are instant. False! The majority of toxins need time to act. There are many toxins that will take hours to days before we see any symptoms. (For example, Long Acting Anticoagulant Rodenticides can take days for signs to show). This is something to keep in mind while we gather information about the exposure in your consult, we are very familiar with the timeframe of what your pet was exposed to.

Concentration: All poison is 100% concentrated, it only takes a drop. False! The dose determines the toxicity. For example, we can take a specific amount of a medication, and it can be effective. However, if we take too much of it, it will produce unwanted effects which results in a toxicity. This is important to keep in mind when using products that have ingredients in a low concentration (for example: household cleaners and ant baits) when they will not product unwanted effects, versus using those same ingredients at high concentrations.

Antidote: Every poison has one. In the dramatic movie scene, the hero saves the day by administering the red liquid that is the obvious antidote to the blue liquid that has been ingested. Suddenly all is well, and the characters can ride off into the sunset. False! While this may be surprising to some, most toxins DO NOT have an antidote. That does not mean that treatment and management of symptoms is not available.

Mushrooms: Only the brightly colored ones are toxic. False! There are thousands of types of mushrooms out there. To name a few, many in the Muscarine group and the Amanitin group are brown, …all brown. So are the non-toxic varieties that we often consume such as the Portabello and Button varieties. See where I’m going with this?

One thing is true: For the Best Outcome, seek professional assistance!  Call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline® immediately. The sooner a dog poisoning or cat poisoning is diagnosed, the easier, less expensive, and safer it is to treat your pet.