Winter Hazards

Winter Hazards

A reminder to our pet owning followers to be cautious with winter hazards such as cold and flu medications, single use heat packs, wild mushrooms, and firelighters.

Cold and flu medications usually contain a combination of active ingredients, many of which can cause toxic effects when ingested in sufficient quantity. Paracetamol is commonly found in such products and can potentially result in severe poisoning following ingestion. Cats are particularly sensitive to paracetamol and can be severely poisoned by very small doses. Oral decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine, result in stimulant effects such as hyperactivity, agitation, a rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, tremor, and possibly seizures. Even some nasal sprays that contain decongestants can be very toxic to pets when ingested.

Disposable iron-based heat packs (most that contain a black or grey powder or granular material inside them) can be toxic if ingested. Initial signs of iron toxicity can include severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Early veterinary treatment in these cases can be lifesaving.

Wild mushrooms are still actively growing, particularly following periods of heavy rain. Whilst the ingestion of most wild mushrooms results in little other than mild gastrointestinal upset, some can cause severe or life-threatening poisoning. Please be cautious and keep an eye on your pet whilst walking them. Where possible, remove any mushrooms from your yard before your pet has a chance to play with or eat them.

Surprisingly, some dogs seem to find firelighters irresistible and will eat large amounts if given the chance to do so. This can result in significant irritation to the gastrointestinal tract and potentially gastrointestinal obstruction.

Please be careful this winter to ensure your pets do not have access to these, or other toxins. If your pet has been exposed to any of these winter toxins, please phone the Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) for advice. The Animal Poisons Helpline is a free service for all pet owners in Australia and New Zealand.

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This post has been made possible by a grant from Animal Welfare Victoria.