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E-cigarettes poison 100 pets, as vets reveal list of danger items

Shaka with owner Nicola Brown Image copyright Nicola Brown
Image caption Nicola Brown said it was a "massive nightmare" when her cat Shaka licked lily pollen

Painkiller tablets, lilies and chocolate were among the biggest causes of accidental pet poisoning in the home last year, leading vets are warning.

A large increase of incidents involving e-cigarettes and vitamin D supplements were recorded in recent years.

Contraceptive pills, artificial sweetener and raisins also harm thousands each year, data shows.

Vets reported almost 11,000 UK pet poisonings in 2016, mostly involving dogs, cats and rabbits.

More on pet poisonings and other Devon & Cornwall news here

Gudrun Ravetz, president of the British Veterinary Association said: "E-cigarettes may be harmful if they are ingested by your pet, as e-cigarettes and refills can easily contain sufficient quantities of nicotine to kill a small animal."

Image copyright Pete Stewart / getty images
Image caption Pete Stewart said it was "touch and go" after his dog ate "the worst type of chocolate" - dark
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Poisoning involving e-cigarettes has risen

Some 113 pets were poisoned by e-cigarettes while 148 cases involved vitamin D tablets, figures from the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) show - however they remain a small percentage of the overall total.

Pete Stewart's dog was poisoned after he found and ate "up to four bars of dark chocolate".

Mr Stewart, from London, said: "He seemed completely normal until the next afternoon when he started getting quite hyperactive and shaking, so I took him to the vets immediately.

"It was pretty horrible, they were really worried - they managed to flush his system but the quantity he had was enough to kill a much bigger dog".

Pet poisonings in 2016

1,253

Human painkillers

  • 579 Chocolate

  • 759 Rat poison

  • 253 Artificial sweetener

  • 113 Electronic cigarettes

Pete Stewart

Elizabeth Mackie's cat, Mr Mistoffelees, died after licking pollen from lilies in what she described as a "traumatic and horrific experience".

The Shropshire pub manager said she had an "overwhelming response" to her story from cat-lovers "right round the globe".

Nicola Brown, from Newquay, also said she had a "massive nightmare" and a "large bill" when her "pride and joy" Shaka the cat was poisoned by lily pollen.

Image copyright Elizabeth Mackie / International Cat Care
Image caption 18-week-old Mr Mistoffelees died from lily poisoning

There are no official figures for how many animals die from poisoning, although research into about 1,500 cases by the VPIS shows of those brought to a vet around 8% end in fatality.

Fatal poisoning cases are known to have involved insulin, baby wipes, bleach, morphine pesticides and antifreeze.


Advice by British Veterinary Association (BVA) president, Gudrun Ravetz:

Animals' bodies break down certain substances in a different way to humans, which can lead to kidney failure. In chocolate, the problem is a naturally occurring chemical in cocoa beans called theobromine. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, rapid breathing and fits.

What can you do to protect your animal from harm?

  • Risk assess your home as you would for a baby
  • Keep potentially dangerous products out of reach such as e-cigarette equipment, drugs, chocolate, grapes, raisins, antifreeze, pesticides and bleach
  • Do not let animals walk where bleach has just been used
  • Do not have poisonous plants or cut flowers such as lilies in the house if you have cats inside
  • Never self-medicate for your pet - a single paracetamol or ibuprofen tablet could kill them
  • If you think your animal has ingested something poisonous, contact your vet as soon as possible, even if there are no symptoms

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