Pictured: Decongestants

Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Potentially mild to severe

Common signs to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Severe blood pressure changes
  • Increased or decreased heart rate
  • Agitation or hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Decongestants work by constricting (or tightening) the blood vessels in the nose (and the rest of the body). The most common types of decongestants are pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. These drugs are commonly found in cold, flu and allergy medications (especially those with a “-D” at the end of the name). When accidentally ingested by dogs and cats, decongestants can be deadly as they can result in vomiting, dilated pupils, severe blood pressure changes (hypertension), abnormal heart rhythms and rates, tremors, and seizures. Immediate treatment may be necessary to prevent potentially life-threatening signs.

Read more about common cold and flu medications that can be toxic to pets here.

Poison type: medications

Alternate names: phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, cold medication, nasal decongestants