Pictured: Decongestants

Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe

Common signs to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Severe blood pressure changes
  • Elevated or really slow heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Acute death

Decongestants, which are designed to prevent post-nasal drip, 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. 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 is necessary to prevent potentially life-threatening signs. Decontamination, blood pressure monitoring, medications to lower the blood pressure, and aggressive symptomatic supportive care may be necessary.

Poison type: medications

Alternate names: phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, cold medication, cough medication, Claritin-D, Mucinex-D, asthma medication, diet pills, nasal decongestants, sympathomimetics