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Natural remedies for pets

There are many commonly used household products, human foods and plants which are toxic to animals and most people are unaware of them all. When animals are sick natural remedies are especially effective as they do not cause side effects like prescribed medications can.

ALABAMA ROT (Dog's black death)

This is a flesh eating disease that is currently sweeping the UK and dogs can contract it from cold muddy wet areas  especially between June and October. It is a fatal disease causing kidney failure which can occur within just seven days if diagnosis and treatment does not take place rapidly.

It begins with skin lesions that appear usually beneath the elbows or knees of the dog and can affect any type of breed or age of a dog. These lesions can be a swelling, red or an open ulcer like sore and should be investigated by a vet immediately.

Within approximately two to seven days, the affected dogs develop outward signs of sudden kidney failure which can include vomiting, reduced hunger, and an unusual tiredness.

These symptoms can be caused by other diseases, and most often are, but the vet will run tests to determine the cause.

To avoid contraction pets should be walked in dry areas whenever possible and any mud washed off as soon as possible after their walk.

Areas of the UK most affected include Cornwall, County Durham, Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey and Worcestershire but it is spreading so more cases are being reported all the time. The actual cause of the disease is as yet unknown.

To find out more visit: vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot/


Clean your pet's ears, gently once a week, using a piece of kitchen paper or tissue and your little finger. Try dipping the tissue in olive oil first. Then use a dry tissue to remove dirt and wax but do not penetrate your pets ear canal. Dogs with long ears have particular problems with ear disorders and may need their ears cleaning more often. A sign that a dog is suffering from ear problems is when they constantly shake their heads or try to rub them with their paws.

A dog's ears are far more sensitive than humans therefore loud noises, especially machinery or live music, can cause them real pain and lead to damage of the sensitive bones and tissues in the ears.


When a cat or dog repeatedly stands facing the wall or a corner and presses its head against it there may be a serious medical condition that needs urgent attention. Many diseases can have head pressing as a clinical sign, but most often it is associated it with hepatic encephalopathy, a condition that occurs in pets with liver disease. The liver is meant to remove toxins from the blood stream but when it is not functioning correctly ammonia and other toxins build up and create this neurologic syndrome of head pressing. Head pressing can also indicate damage to the nervous system or a neurological condition or illness.

Other conditions that can cause head pressing

  • Hydrocephalus (water on the brain)

  • Tumours in the brain

  • Strokes or vascular accidents in the brain

  • Head trauma.

  • Inflammatory and infectious types of meningitis and encephalitis

  • Any kind of trauma to the head or brain can potentially cause head pressing.

It is important to take the animal to the vet as soon as possible to investigate the cause.


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Head pressing in pets


When pets are overweight, the extra pounds can stress the heart, making it pump harder than it needs to. Joints will suffer under extra weight, too, contributing to pain from arthritis, hip dysplasia and other joint problems. Obesity can also play a role in the development of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. It must be possible to feel the ribs beneath a thin layer of fat and muscle otherwise the dog or cat is overweight and will suffer pain and inflammation that is often not possible to see or recognise. The ideal calorific intake is as follows:


10 lbs   180 to 200 calories


10 lbs   200 to 275 calories

20 lbs   325 to 400 calories

50 lbs   700 to 900 calories

Weigh the animals food and check the calories to make sure you are not over feeding them. It is best to feed your animal half the calories they need twice a day.

If your pet has become overweight try swapping some of their food for cooked or grated carrots and a little brown rice. Give them apple slices or carrots as alternatives to calorific treats and try to make sure they have a little more exercise than usual. Ice cubes can be a fun calorie-free treat for your dog to crunch.


It is important to keep a dog's teeth clean as the build-up of bacteria can lead to infections of various organs in their body. It can be difficult to clean a dogs teeth if it is not introduced at an early age but there are many chewable products that can help to clean their teeth. These should be given an hour after they have eaten their meals. Charcoal biscuits are also a good addition for a healthy mouth and gut and will help to reduce bad breath, flatulence and other intestinal problems.


Skin disorders are one of the most common ailments to affect cats and dogs. There can be a number of causes such as:

  • Bacterial infections/dandruff

  • Chemical allergies from household products

  • Dry skin

  • Ear mites

  • Environmental factors such as chemicals used in the home or excessive sun, heat or cold exposure.

  • Fleas

  • Food allergies

  • Fungal infections/ringworm

  • Lice (dog lice cannot infect humans)

  • Mange mites

  • Mosquito-borne infections and allergies.

  • Seasonal allergies from grass, moulds and trees

  • Stress

  • Ticks

  • Tumours

It is important to find out the cause of the skin disorder by a process of elimination.

Firstly check your pet's skin thoroughly using a magnifying glass to see if fleas, lice or ticks are present then use the appropriate remedies listed below..

Remove dust and fleas from the home environment by vacuuming well and throwing out the bag immediately.

Use only toxin free natural products for cleaning the home but avoid essential oils see Natural Household Cleaners.fine toothed lice comb

Try changing your pet's food to see if it is a food allergy.

A weekly or monthly shampoo, using any of the following natural remedies can clear up most skin conditions. It is important not to wet shampoo animals more than once a week as it can remove their natural oils and lead to dry skin conditions and infections, especially if using any type of non-natural shampoo.

Daily brushing and combing with a fine toothed lice comb can help remove dry skin, fleas and lice and improve the circulation of blood to the skin and encourage natural oil production.


When combining these common ingredients to make dog shampoo, be sure you are balancing alkaline substances (like bicarbonate of soda) with acidic substances (like vinegar) in a neutral base (like water) to keep your shampoos pH balanced for your dog’s skin. Too alkaline should not be a problem, but too acidic will irritate, and can even harm, your dog’s skin. The pHs of some common household ingredients are:

  • Bicarbonate of soda: 8.3 (alkaline)

  • Water: 7.0 (neutral - neither acidic nor alkaline)

  • Vinegar: 2.2 (acid)

  • Lemon Juice: 2.0 (acid)

Dry shampoo to eradicate fleas

  • 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda

  • 1 cup of corn starch

Sprinkle the mixture onto the animals fur and massage it into the skin with your hands or with a comb or brush. It is best not to use too much bicarbonate of soda at a time (one cup for a mid-sized dog, half a cup for a cat or very small dog or puppy) and not to apply this method too frequently, since the residue from the powder can accumulate.

Wet shampoo to eradicate fleas

  • 1 quart of water

  • 1 cup of white vinegar/apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup of baby shampoo

Mix the above ingredients in a bowl then pour over your dog's coat. Massage well into the skin paying particular attention to areas where fleas like to congregate such as the spine, tail area, neck, behind the ears and underneath the forearms. Leave mixture on for 5 minutes then rinse well using a flea comb afterwards to remove fleas and eggs.

Other remedies for fleas

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural rock made up of remains of ancient tough shelled algae that can be used as a powder to effectively kill fleas without harming the animal. The sharp edges of DE can slice through the pest’s waxy and tough exoskeleton causing dehydration and death to the flea. Sprinkle it onto animals fur and rub in thoroughly. Make sure that it does not come in contact with your eyes and nose. You can also dust it on cat’s bedding and furniture. Use it once a day and once in a week on the animal's bedding.

Home-made wet shampoo for dry and sensitive skin

Adding ingredients such as aloe vera gel and olive oil to a gentle baby shampoo can help relieve itchy and dry skin.

  • 1 quart of water

  • 1 cup of baby shampoo

  • 1 cup of white vinegar/apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel

Mix the above ingredients together in a bowl then pour over your dog's coat and massage into the skin. Rinse well afterwards with warm water.



  • Pour a strong tea made from the crushed seeds of parsley onto your dog's fur and massage well for at least 10 minutes.

  • Then add a few drops of tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil to a bowl and add two tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil. Warm slightly before massaging well into your pets coat for at least 10 minutes.

  • Then use a large wide toothed comb to detangle hair.

  • Then use a fine toothed lice comb over a white sheet of paper to ensure that all eggs or newly-hatched lice are removed.

  • Shampoo and dry as normal.

Lice eggs may take 7 to 10 days to hatch, so retreat each day until no more dead lice or eggs fall on to the white sheet of paper when combing.

NOTE: You can also coat areas with cold-pressed coconut oil, then rinse off and repeat several times daily.


Ticks can be picked up by pets in long grass where other animals roam especially sheep and deer.

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to firmly grasp the tick very close to the skin.

  • Do not squeeze it as squeezing can speed up infection.

  • With a steady motion pull the tick’s body away from the skin.

  • Then clean skin with a mild natural soap and warm water.

  • Avoid crushing the tick’s body.

  • Do not be alarmed if the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin. Once the mouthparts are removed from the rest of the tick, it can no longer transmit disease and will soon fall off naturally.

  • If the tick is crushed, clean the skin with soap and warm water.

  • Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products to remove a tick


Add 1 mug of water to a spray bottle, followed by 2 mugs of distilled white vinegar. Then add two spoonfuls of vegetable or almond oil which both contain sulphur (a natural tick repellent).

To make a repellent that will also deter fleas, mix in a few spoonfuls of lemon juice, citrus oil or peppermint oil, any of which will repel ticks and fleas while also creating a nicely scented repellent. Spray onto the pet's dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including eyes, nose, mouth and genitals. When outdoors spray this solution on two to three times per day.

See also Mosquito Borne Infections.


Known as 'flores sulphuris' by apothecaries and in older scientific works, flower of sulphur, also known as yellow sulphur powder, is a bright yellow powder obtained from naturally-occurring volcanic brimstone deposits and should not be confused with methylsulfonylmethane which is also a source of sulphur. Flowers of sulphur has been used as a natural mineral remedy for skin disorders and degenerative diseases for many centuries and is mentioned in ancient texts, such as the bible, as brimstone.

Flowers of sulphur has antiseptic and antifungal properties and is suitable for use on humans, animals, vegetables, fruits, flowers and as a gardening additive in the soil. It is safe to ingest in very small quantities provided it comes from a reputable source. Sulphur is an important mineral for both animal and human health and farmers and vets have used it as a natural remedy for animals for a very long time as it is exceptionally effective at treating a wide variety of skin conditions especially for horses and dogs. It treats most skin complaints in pets and farm animals including allergies, mange and scabies. It also kills and repels fleas, tics, mites and lice. It can also be used to treat sweet itch, mud fever and skin complaints that affect horses.

To use flowers of sulphur in an animal’s fur, mix one part flowers of sulphur powder with two parts of corn flour. Part the coat and rub in gently on body, head and back of ears. Using flowers of sulphur neat without adding corn flour on cats and some other animals may make their coats (fur) very dry and brittle resulting in breakage. Alternatively, you can make it into an ointment by mixing it with coconut oil. Coconut oil also provides antifungal benefits and will prevent the drying effect. You can add very small amounts of flower of sulphur powder to an animal's food. It is difficult to add to their water as it tends to float rather than dissolve in the water.


Cats most often become carriers of toxoplasmosis by killing and eating wild animals who have been infected. This infection can be transmitted to humans and is especially harmful to a foetus therefore pregnant women should avoid contact with cat's faeces, litter and saliva. See Toxoplasmosis.


Add some grated carrot to the animals foods everyday.

Pumpkin seeds: Grind a teaspoon of pumpkin seeds in a coffee grinder and mix with food. One teaspoon should be fed per day for 21 days to eradicate worms.


Make sure you introduce any of the following foods very gradually and sparingly as a sudden change in diet can cause stomach and digestive disorders for animals. Also check with a vet first, if the animal is on medications or a special diet, as some foods can interact with these. These foods should only ever make up to 10% of your pet's daily diet.

Apple slices are good for dogs but ensure that the seeds and core are not consumed as they contain cyanide which is highly toxic to animals.

Bananas. A few slices of banana are a healthy addition to the diet. To avoid mess they can be frozen before feeding to your dog but give sparingly as they are high in potassium.

Broccoli in small amounts is good for young dogs.

Brown rice cooked well is a good addition to the diet in small amounts. It can also help to bind the stools if mixed with a cooked egg if your pet is suffering with diarrhoea or vomiting.

Carrots are a good addition to the diet especially for dogs that are overweight.

Beef, chicken, rabbit, turkey and venison that is lean and cooked well can be added to a dogs or cats meal but avoid feeding cooked bones as these an splinter and cause choking or intestinal blockages. Also do not feed them meats that have been cooked in vegetable oils or wine.

Cod liver or krill oil are a very healthy addition for dogs and will help to keep their joints working well and encourage a shiny coat. A teaspoonful added to their normal meal once per day is sufficient.

Courgettes, pumpkin and squashes are a healthy food for dogs.

Eggs are very good for dogs and especially cats as they need extra protein due to their metabolism. However eggs must always be cooked to avoid infecting the animal with salmonella and served only once a week.

Flaxseeds: Add a tablespoon of ground or milled flaxseeds or a teaspoon of flaxseed oil to your dog’s food and increase the nutrient density. Store flaxseeds in refrigerator to maintain freshness.

Peas and green beans are a good addition to the dogs diet.

Salmon is a good addition to dogs and cats meals as it adds fatty acids to their diet.

Swede and sweet potatoes cooked and served in small amounts are good for dogs.

Tinned fish such as tuna or sardines are safe to feed to a cat sparingly.


Acetaminophen found in some medications causes liver damage to dogs and red blood cell damage to cats and can be fatal.

Alcohol: Just a small amount of beer or wine can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing and even death. The effects are even worse in smaller breeds.

Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna, Amaryllis paradisicola). Ingestion of the many toxins in this popular flowering houseplant such as amaryllidine, lycorine, haemanthamine, tazzetine, hippeastrine, pancracine, vittatine, hydroxyvittatine and others, can lead to abdominal pain, accelerated defecation, anorexia, dark brown urine colour, diarrhoea, excessive drooling, gastroenteritis,  lethargy, shivering,vomiting and possible contact dermatitis to the mouth, throat, nose and face. Ingestion of larger amounts can cause paralysis, central nervous system collapse and death.

Angel's Trumpets (Brugmansia) has large, fragrant flowers that give them their common name of angel's trumpets. All parts are poisonous as they are part of the nightshade family.

Animal fat trimmings can cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhoea and even lead to pancreatic disorders in dogs and cats.

Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) contains compounds that attack rapidly dividing cells in the body. Ingestion by animals can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and possible death. It should not be confused with the spring flowering crocuses such as Crocus chrysanthus, Crocus speciosusas or Crocus vernus as these are not toxic.

Azaleas (Rhodendron tsutsusi or Rhododendron pentanthera) contain grayanotoxins which can lead to vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest in all animal species.

Avocados (Persea americana) are toxic to cats and dogs and can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.

Batteries cause ulcers in the mouth, oesophagus and stomach of cats and dogs.

Bay leaves or laurels (Laurus nobilis) contain grayanotoxins which can lead to vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest in all animal species.

Begonia: All species of begonia are toxic to pets.

Bones. Cooked animal bones can splinter and cause intestinal blockages in both cats and dogs which may require surgery and some cases cause choking and be fatal. Raw bones are less likely to splinter.

Cannabis (Cannabis sativa) Both the marijuana plant and smoke from burning it are toxic to animals and can cause paranoia leading to agitation, anxiety and panting in pets exposed to cannabis smoke. They may also lose the ability to consume food and water and become dehydrated which can lead to kidney disorders. Extreme responses to noises, movements and other forms of sensory stimulation may occur in pets that are exposed to marijuana. These responses can manifest as trembling or jerking of the head or extremities. In severe cases, the responses may appear similar to seizures.

Castor bean (Ricinus Communis) contains ricin which can cause multiple organ failure. It is most highly concentrated in the seeds but the seed coating must be damaged to release this toxin therefore, if seeds are swallowed whole, they may pass through the digestive system and not harm the animal. These beans are commonly used to make ornaments and jewellery.

Cereals and grains. Dogs cannot digest most grains and many commercially produced breakfast cereals contain lots of sugar and often added salt. Feeding them cereals and grains can cause digestive problems, skin irritations and other allergic reactions. Brown rice is one exception.

Cherries (Prunus) can cause increased heart rate, rapid breathing, shock and even be fatal for dogs.

Chives, garlic, leeks and onions (Allium) can cause anaemia and gastrointestinal disorders in cats and dogs.

Chocolate, cocoa, coffee, fizzy drinks and tea.  The caffeine found in chocolate, cocoa, coffee, fizzy drinks and tea can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle tremors, restlessness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, seizures and death in dogs and cats. Cocoa beans also contain theobromine that can be toxic to animals like cats, dogs, horses and parrots.

Chrysanthemum (Dendranthema x grandiflorum). All parts of this popular flowering plant are potentially toxic to dogs, cats, horses and other mammals. Ingesting the plant can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive salivating, rashes and a lack of coordination.

Coins. Zinc toxicity from coins ingested by dogs or cats can cause anaemia as well as heart, kidney or liver failure. Coins minted after 1982 are more problematic.

Corn cane belongs to the Dracaena family which are toxic to dogs and cats.

Cyclamen is a common houseplant that contains irritating saponins and, when any part of the plant (especially the tubers or roots) are chewed or ingested by dogs and cats, it can result in clinical signs of drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. With large ingestions, these plants can result in cardiac problems (e.g., abnormal heart rate and rhythm), seizures and death.

Daffodil, hyacinth and tulip bulbs. When the plant parts or bulbs are chewed or ingested, it can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and oesophagus. Typical signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, or even diarrhoea, depending on the amount consumed. With large ingestions, more severe symptoms such as an increase in heart rate, changes in respiration and difficulty breathing may be seen.

Detergents and fabric softener sheets can cause ulcers in the mouth, oesophagus and stomach of cats and dogs.

Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) This common houseplant is toxic to dogs and cats.

English Ivy (Hedera helix) contain toxins such as hederasaponin C, hederasaponin B, hederasaponoside B and C, alpha-hederin, rutin, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, and emetine; polyacetylene terpenoids: falcarinol and didehydrofalcarinol. The cell sap of English ivy has shown the ability to create redness, itching and/or blisters when it comes in contact with living tissue. Symptoms of ingestion include an immediate burning sensation in throat and mouth; possibly followed by redness, blisters, rash and obvious visible irritation of oral mucosa; excessive drooling, obvious pain or discomfort of the mouth, pawing at the mouth, hoarse or weak sounding vocalisation; excessive desire to drink; gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain. In cases of an extremely large ingestion: stupor, loss of coordination, hypotension, tachycardia, convulsions and coma.

Ethylene glycol is found in anti-freeze, de-icers and motor oil and has a sweet taste which dogs and cats are attracted to but a teaspoon for a cat and a tablespoon for a dog can cause kidney failure.

Fertilisers, snail and slug pellets and weed killers can cause various serious disorders in cats and dogs depending upon the ingredients. Fertilisers  can contain toxic amounts of iron, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, herbicides and pesticides and fungicides. Keep all animals away from any treated areas.

Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurae) contain glycosides which slow down the heart beat and can even stop it and are toxic to all animals.

Fruit seeds, cores, stems and stones contain cyanide which can lead to dilated pupils, difficulty breathing and shock in dogs.

Grapes, raisins and currants, even in small amounts, can cause kidney failure in dogs.

Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, Philodendron selloum) is a common houseplant that is toxic to both animals and children.

Hops (Humulus Lupulis) used in beer brewing can cause a dogs body temperature to rapidly rise to as much as 108 and kill them. Signs are agitation and panting and can be seen within hours of ingestion.

Household cleaners such as bleach, drain and toilet cleaners can cause gastrointestinal ulcers and other serious problems in dogs and cats.

Insecticides in flea and tick products can cause serious problems for dogs and cats if not used correctly. Dog treatments should never be used on cats as it can lead to sever vomiting, difficulties in breathing and seizures. Pets should never be allowed near to places where insecticides have been used.

Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica) contain grayanotoxins which can lead to vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest in all animal species.

Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidate) is an evergreen plant that contains compounds that have a direct action upon the heart. Ingestion of any part of the plant (except the fruits) can cause irregular heart beat and even stop the heart causing death within a few hours of ingestion by any animal species.

Jimson weed, also known as devil’s trumpet (Datura stramonium), can cause restlessness, drunken walking and respiratory failure in cats and dogs.

Kalanchoe (Bryophyllum pinnatum and Kalanchoe pinnatum) is a popular houseplant that contains glycosides which slow down the heart beat and can even stop it and be fatal to all animals.

Kerosene, gasoline and tiki torch fluids and oils can cause drooling, drunken walking and breathing difficulties in dogs and cats.

Lilies, (Lilium, Asiatic, day, Easter, Japanese and tiger varieties) can cause kidney failure in cats.  Ingestion of a common houseplant, the peace lily, can cause irritation of the tongue and lips, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing and vomiting in most mammals.

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) contain glycosides which slow down the heart beat and can even stop it and can be fatal to all animals.

Macadamia nuts can cause difficulty walking, lethargy and vomiting in dogs.

Milk can cause stomach upsets and poor skin conditions for dogs and cats due to the fact they are lactose intolerant once they reach adulthood. It can also lead to obesity.

Mothballs can be toxic to dogs and cats especially if they contain naphthalene. They will cause diarrhoea, vomiting, increased drinking and urination and seizures.

Mouse and rat poisons can contain a number of toxic ingredients and lead to blood clotting problems and haemorrhaging in cats and dogs.

Mushrooms. (Agaricus) Wild mushrooms can cause vomiting, hallucinations, liver failure and death in dogs.

Oleander (Nerium oleander) is a popular houseplant that contains glycosides which slow down the heart beat and can even stop it and can be fatal to all animals.

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) Raw potatoes contain solanine which can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and severe stomach upset in cats and dogs.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) This common houseplant is also known as golden pothos or devil's ivy and both the stem and the leaves contain insoluble calcium oxalates. Chewing or biting into the plant releases the crystals which penetrate tissue resulting in injury. These steroidal saponins and glycosides cause tissue irritation and possible swelling when chewed and lead to oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth, difficulty breathing and swallowing, lack of appetite and vomiting.

Prescription or non-prescription medications, such as anti-depressants, heart drugs, Ibuprofen and Paracetemol can lead to severe ulcers, anaemia, heart problems and liver failure in cats and dogs.

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) can cause tremors and kidney failure in cats and dogs. It contains soluble oxalate salts which are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and then bind with body’s calcium, resulting in a sudden drop in calcium. Rarely, acute renal failure can be seen from ingestion of plants or fruit containing these soluble oxalate crystals. Clinical signs of this type of poisoning include drooling, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine and changes in thirst and urination in cats and dogs.

Sago palm plant (Cycas revolute) can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and seizures in cats and dogs and liver failure in dogs.

Salt. Unlike humans animals, such as dogs, do not sweat through their skin which expels excess salt so it builds up in their blood stream and can cause serious kidney and joint problems. Salted snacks, such as crisps and peanuts, are especially bad for their health and are high in calories which can also lead to obesity.

Shamrock (Oxalis triangularis) also known as sorrel, contains soluble oxalate salts which are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and then bind with body’s calcium, resulting in a sudden drop in calcium. Rarely, acute renal failure can be seen from ingestion of plants or fruit containing these soluble oxalate crystals. Clinical signs of this type of poisoning include drooling, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine and changes in thirst and urination in cats and dogs. Fortunately shamrock tastes bitter so is rarely consumed in quantities large enough to cause any serious damage.

Star fruit. When soluble oxalate salts from these fruits are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, they bind with body’s calcium, resulting in a sudden drop in calcium. Rarely, acute renal failure can be seen from ingestion of plants or fruit containing these soluble oxalate crystals. Clinical signs of this type of poisoning include drooling, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine and changes in thirst and urination in cats and dogs.

Sugar is very difficult for dogs to digest and can cause intestinal blockages.

Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) is toxic to both cats and dogs. Ingestion of nicotine from either the plants, cigarettes or patches can lead to vomiting, tremors, collapse and death.

Umbrella tree (Brassaia actinophylla, Schefflera arboricola) is a common houseplant that is toxic to cats and dogs. Chewing or biting into this plant releases the crystals which penetrate tissue resulting in injury. When dogs or cats ingest insoluble calcium oxalate-containing plants, clinical signs may be seen immediately and include pawing at face (secondary to oral pain), drooling, foaming, and vomiting. Moderate to severe swelling of the lips, tongue, oral cavity and upper airway may also be seen, making it difficult to breathe or swallow.

Unbaked bread dough can expand in the stomach of cats and dogs. If the stomach twists emergency surgery will be required. The yeast in the dough can produce alcohol which can lead to seizures and respiratory failure in both cats and dogs.

Veterinary prescriptions such as those for arthritis are often meat flavoured. Ingestion of large quantities can lead to stomach ulcers and kidney or liver failure.

Wind sheen wiper fluid often contains methanol which can cause low blood sugar and drunken walking in cats and dogs.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in breath mints, chewing gum and toothpaste. In dogs it can lead to dangerous drops in blood sugar and liver failure and be fatal. Some food manufacturers are using xylitol in processed foods, such as peanut butter, to reduce sugar content. Always check labels before giving dogs any type of processed foods.


Essential oils, especially tea tree oil, are toxic to cats and dogs and other mammals so do not use where they are present. Even an oil diffuser or burner can cause serious health issues for them.

  • Bay

  • Bergamot

  • Clove

  • Cinnamon

  • Citronella

  • Eucalyptus

  • Fir

  • Geranium

  • Grapefruit

  • Lavender

  • Lemon

  • Lime

  • Mandarin

  • Orange

  • Oregano

  • Pennyroyal

  • Pine

  • Rue

  • Savoury

  • Spruce

  • Tangerine

  • Tea tree

  • Thyme


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