If the cat gets a product containing glyphosate on its fur or feet, it should be thoroughly washed. If a cat has ingested a small quantity, particularly of a dilute solution from grooming or licking a spill or from a wet plant, the vet may wash out the cat’s mouth and give oral fluids. If there is definite ingestion, the vet will give more serious treatment.
Vomiting, anorexia and lethargy are common signs in cats after glyphosate exposure. There may also be diarrhoea, tremors, drowsiness and dilated pupils. Severe respiratory signs are a feature of glyphosate exposure in cats and can be fatal. Eye and skin irritation are also possible after exposure to glyphosate-containing products.
Signs of poisoning with chlorophenoxy derivatives
Cats can inadvertently become exposed to and potentially poisoned by weed killers. In this article we look at where the dangers lie, how to avoid exposure and what to do if you suspect your cat has been poisoned.
Glyphosate is a widely used and readily available herbicide. It is primarily available in liquid formulations but these may vary in strength. Many products contain a surfactant, polyoxyethylene amine (POEA), which improves the ‘wettability’ of plants for maximum coverage and aids the glyphosate in penetrating through the plant surface.
Octanoic acid (caprylic acid), decanoic acid (capric acid) and nonanoic acid (pelargonic acid) are examples of naturally occurring fatty acids found in some weed killers, particularly those labelled organic.
2,4-D was first used in the United States in the 1940s. Agent Orange, an herbicide used during the Vietnam War, contained both 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. Dioxin, a by-product of 2,4,5-T, led to the ban of Agent Orange.
In 2004, the EPA decided that 2,4-D could not be classified with regard to its ability to cause cancer because there was not enough data.
What are some products that contain 2,4-D?
Pure 2,4-D is low in toxicity if eaten, inhaled, or if it contacts the skin, and some forms are low in toxicity to the eyes. However, the acid and salt forms of 2,4- D can cause severe eye irritation. People who drank products containing 2,4- D vomited, had diarrhea, headaches, and were confused or aggressive. Some people also had kidney failure and skeletal muscle damage. People who spilled 2,4-D on their skin developed skin irritation. Breathing 2,4-D vapors can cause coughing, a burning feeling in the airway, and dizziness.
2,4-D is broken down by bacteria in water and in soil. Water alone can also break down 2,4-D. 2,4-D has been found at low levels in shallow groundwater and streams in both rural and urban areas.
Products containing 2,4-D may be liquids, dusts, or granules. The liquid forms may be concentrated or ready-to-use. There are over a thousand products with 2,4-D in them that are sold in the United States.