S.P. Ramanathan was devastated when his beloved pet cat Raazil passed away after swallowing a croton leaf. He is now on a mission to educate pet-owners on what plants are harmful to pets, so that such tragedies can be avoided in future. He recommends this website as a reliable list of plants that are poisonous to pets - goo.gl/XqQDN. Says veterinarian Dr. S.V. Sujatha of the symptoms – “A cat that has ingested a poisonous plant might vomit, faint, froth at the mouth or experience an epileptic fit. If these symptoms occur, rush him to a vet”.

Apart from these toxic plants, some human foods can also be dangerous for pets. Dr. Sujatha lists garlic, onion, sugar and chocolate as some of these harmful foods. “Sweets are also not recommended”, she adds.

While the above substances are poisonous to all pets, there are also certain food allergies that a few animals might have and this varies from one pet to another. “One of my clients has a gluten allergy and his diet has therefore been changed to exclude chapattis. Another client is lactose-intolerant and has recovered after the food plan was changed”, she says. “Symptoms of food allergy include vomiting, loose stools and skin problems like constant scratching”. She observes that pet-owners might not realise that the skin problem is related to a continued intake of the allergen, and adds that it is important to be alert about these symptoms and get a doctor's opinion.

Another common and deadly cause of toxicity in pets is medication administered by pet-owners who have not consulted a veterinarian. Human medicines like Crocin, Paracetamol and their equivalents will kill pets (even in small doses). “Some human drugs are absolutely contra-indicated for pets”, warns Dr. Sujatha. “A human's constitution and an animal's constitution are completely different”. She advocates consultation with veterinary doctors before giving any medication to a pet.

Other poisons include the obvious ones such as floor cleaners and household-use chemicals that must be kept away from curious pets. Another danger is rodent repellant (that is often found in common areas, even if not used within the home) – a pet might unknowingly ingest the repellant. Natural or pet-friendly repellants must replace these substances, to avoid fatalities.

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