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Drugs: Ant Poisons/Miscellaneous Insecticides - XX


This article is from the Pet Owner's Guide to Common Small Animal Poisons, by Julie Dahlke, DVM, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine.

Drugs: Ant Poisons/Miscellaneous Insecticides - XX

There are dozens of insecticides available in hardware and home repair
stores designed to kill ants, termites, wasps, garden pests and many
other nuisance insects. Unfortunately, these products present a risk
to our household pets when a dog or cat is accidentally exposed to the
poison, usually by eating the bait or poison. Although there are a
host of different active ingredients found in these preparations, many
of them can be grouped into two categories: Organophosphates and

Both organophosphates (known as OP's) and carbamates have similar
toxic effects which involve disruption of the normal nervous system
function by causing an excess of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine,
to accumulate in the body. Although acetylcholine is a necessary body
chemical for normal nervous and muscular function, this excess or
overdose, causes severe clinical signs that can result in the death of
the animal. If an animal is exposed by eating a poison containing OP's
or carbamates (or, less frequently, absorbing the substance through
the skin in a dip product) it can experience a number of clinical
signs. These include excess saliva production, lacrimation or tearing
of the eyes, excessive urination, diarrhea, muscle twitching,
weakness, difficult breathing and collapse. It is critical than an
animal potentially exposed to these insecticides be evaluated by
veterinary personnel as quickly as possible in order to provide
treatment if necessary before signs become severe, at which point
treatment is often ineffective.

There are many other types of insecticides besides OP's and
carbamates, including: Chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds, pyrethrins,
arsenic and others which have different poisonous properties and which
may require different treatments for accidental exposure. As mentioned
earlier, in the case of an accident, it is important to get the
container with the label including the insecticide's active
ingredient(s) and bring that information to the attention of the
veterinary staff. They can then determine the type of toxicity and any
possible treatments as quickly as possible, preferably before the pet
is very sick. Many of these products are extremely toxic and any delay
in evaluation of the cat or dog can be life-threatening.


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