What to Do if Your Dog is Poisoned?

If your dog has been poisoned, you should first wash that area which can be eye, ears, nose or skin. In the case of internal poisoning, seek immediate help from the vet. After the treatment, the vet may suggest giving medicines like anti-histamines tablets.

Dogs are peculiar investigative creatures that always what to know what is around them. This naturally leads them to come into contact with substances that can cause poisoning.

More often than not, you’ll find your dog opening a bottle of poisonous substances either on purpose or accidentally, spilling the contents. The chemicals will get into contact with their paws or fur; the dog might even lick the area clean, thus consuming the poison.

It’s therefore essential as a pet parent to take precautions to ensure these poisonous substances are always under lock and key. Though we may take all the necessary precautions to keep our pets safe, accidents do occur and without knowing the dog is poisoned.

Strangely some of the substances we deem safe for humans such as certain foods and medication if ingested by pets become poisonous.

The results of pet poisoning leads to neurological, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and cardiac effects, on the extreme coma and death may result if your dog is accidentally exposed to poisoning.

Therefore as a responsible pet owner, it imperative that you must know the potential causes of pet poisoning to take the necessary precaution.

Most common causes of pet poisoning

Human food

It’s interesting to know that some foods we enjoy can be poison to your pet. This phenomenon is because the human metabolism differs with most animals. Foods like, garlic, onions, and beverages such as alcohol can harm your dog.

For example, alcohol poisoning may cause breathing problems, vomiting, coma, or at the worst death. Avocado though they seem safe, contains a chemical known as persin, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Macadamia nuts can cause general weakness, vomiting, and overheating. Grapes& raisins may lead to kidney failure. Xylitol an artificial sweetener mostly found in candy and sugar-free gum can lead to low sugar in dogs resulting in weakness, liver failure, and seizures.

Other foods that should be kept away from pets include mushrooms, tomatoes and a majority of seeds and nuts.

Unbaked dough

Unbaked dough can expand while in the dog’s stomach. If by any chance the stomach twists, it may lead to blockage of blood supply to this region. Seizures and respiratory failure have also been reported due to alcohol produced due to yeast fermentation.

Chocolate and caffeine

Ingestion of chocolate in dogs leads to vomiting and death if consumed in large quantities. Chocolate contains a chemical referred to as methylxanthine that is responsible for these effects.

Dark chocolate has the highest concentration of these harmful substances. The impact of chocolate poisoning in pets depends on the type of chocolate and the amount ingested.

Caffeine also produces a similar effect if consumed by dogs.

Prescription and over-the-counter medication

Drugs such as NSAIDs (pain killers), nutrition, and herbal products can lead to poisoning in dogs. Drugs that act as life-saving medication can have fatal effects on pets.

For example, Antidepressants can lead to lethargy and vomiting in pets, muscle relaxants can lead to impairment of the central nervous system, and ultimately death. Anti-diabetic drugs, on the other hand, will result in seizures and lack of coordination.

ADHD drugs will lead to increased heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure in pets. Vitamin D derivatives can lead to a sharp increase in calcium levels and kidney failure. Thus, all human medicines at home must be stored securely.

Veterinary products

Medications and other vet products used for your animals to treat diseases and control parasites can be lethal to your dog.

Products used to eradicate and control ticks and fleas in domestic animals are a significant cause of dog poisoning.

Poisoning can occur if the dog gets an overdose or they ingest the products. For better guidance on how to use vet products for your pets and other domestic animals, please talk to your vet.

Toxic toads

Dogs may pick up toxic toads in their hunting expedition around the house or as you go for walks and picnics. The toad’s skin has poison that can affect your pet.

If your dog ingests poisonous toads, the results can be fatal if immediate action isn’t taken. Once you discover your dog has ingested a toad, can your vet immediately to save the dog.

Heavy metals

Heavy metal poisoning in dogs and other pets can occur if the animal breathes polluted air, drinks contaminated water, eats contaminated foods, or by licking substances like paints.

Lead and mercury can cause fatal effects in pets, especially if consumed in large quantities. The number of heavy metals ingested, and the size of the dog will determine the impact.

If you suspect any case of heavy metal poisoning in your dog, contact your vet for direction on how to handle the matter.

Household products

Most substances we use in the home in cleaning and other purposes such as painting can be harmful to pets. For example, bleach can result in gastrointestinal and respiratory tract effects in dogs.

It’s strange to know that substances such as paint thinner, antifreeze, and chemicals used in the pol can result in dog poisoning. These substances can cause renal failure, depression, stomach upset, and even death.

Lawn care products

Everybody admires a well-kept lawn or kitchen garden, but a garden comes at a cost. You need to use several products to keep it flourishing. If your dog accidentally consumes these products, poisoning may result. Always make sure these products are stored properly. The products in lawn care category include:


Insecticides used in the home or the garden can also pose a threat to pests. These substances are as harmful to dogs as they are to insects. Therefore make sure they are stored out of the reach of your pets.

Snail Bait

The principal ingredient in snail bait is metaldehyde. The same chemical is used in cooking stoves. This substance is poisonous to dogs and mainly affects the nervous system.

If your pet ingests metaldehyde, the only workable remedy is to flush out the chemical from their body. Your vet will handle the matter, by flushing the chemical form the dog’s stomach; they will also use activated charcoal to absorb any remaining traces of this chemical in the gut.

Swift action is necessary to save the life of your pet. The effects will also depend on the amount of metaldehyde ingested.

Note that metaldehyde poisoning is fatal, and if you don’t take action fast, your dog may die in a few hours.

Poisonous plants

Though most plants are friendly to pets, some plants can be toxic to pets. For example, ingestion of daffodils and tulips can result in stomach upset respiratory problems and an increase in heart rate.

Rhododendrons and Azaleas produce a toxin that can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, coma, and death.

If your dog accidentally consumes sage palm seeds, you can expect seizures, vomiting or liver problems. A few seeds of the plant are adequate to trigger the poisoning.


Much bait used to attract and kill rodents also attracts dogs. If ingested, they will lead to severe side effects in your dog.

The symptoms the dog will exhibit will vary depending on the type of rodenticide, and the amount of poison consumed. Some may take days to manifest the symptoms.

The dog may also suffer poisoning if they consume a poisoned rodent. Therefore if you use baits to trap rodents, make sure you regularly check to dispose of any dead rodents.

Signs and symptoms of poisoning in dogs

Any pet owner must have sufficient knowledge of dog poisoning—you might never know when disaster will strike. Equipping yourself with this information can mean life and death for your favorite companions. Most importantly, you must be able to detect poisoning in your dog.

Once you’ve noted any worrying signs in your dog, you can institute first aid and rush the pet to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

The type of toxin and the amount that has entered the dog’s system is the top determinants of the severity of the symptoms of dog poisoning. It’s essential to note that some toxins possess a cumulative effect and they might take time to observe the signs.

Others will experience immediate action, and you’re able to see the signs of distress in no time. Vital signs to watch put in your pet includes one or more of these:

Loss of appetite

If you note any changes in the dog’s feeding habits, you must know something isn’t right with the pet. Any time you note your dog isn’t interested in their favorite meal, you need to worry.

Skipping a single meal might not be a reason to worry, but if they skip two or more meals, then you must follow up to know what is happening.

Contact your vet immediately you detect any of these signs.

Loss of appetite dogs

Irritation and rashes

If the toxin has found its way to the bloodstream via the dog’s skin, rashes and irritation can occur at the site of contact. For example, you might observe reddening of the skin, swelling, itching, and fluid-filled blisters at the contact site.


The dog’s vomit might lack any traces of blood since some toxin produces internal bleeding e.g., warfarin and rat poison. Any time you sight your dog’s vomit, make sure you pick to present to the veterinarian for lad diagnosis of the poison.

Without a sample, the vet will take longer to determine the cause of vomiting.

It’s essential to note that you should ever induce vomiting if you suspect your dogs have ingested poison. By inducing vomiting, you may aggravate the condition since you aren’t aware of what caused the poisoning.


Drooling signifies nausea. Dogs usually drool excessively when poisoned. Excessive drooling will make the dog start releasing foam from their mouths.


Diarrhea results from excess water in the gut in a bid to flush out the toxin. The color of the stool might indicate the type of poison ingested; some will be yellow, green, or black.

Also, note that the stool may be devoid of blood depending on the poison in question. Like the vomit pick a sample as you proceed to the vet for faster diagnosis.

Poor coordination

Loss of coordination is a sign that presents in poisoning affecting the brain. The dog will stagger and bump into objects ion its ways, besides it will lack the energy to walk and get up— it’ll appear dizzy. For example, the ingestion of Xylitol can result in a lack of coordination in dogs in less than 10 minutes.


Lethargy might occur due to the effects of the toxin or a consequence of the toxin on the dog’s heart muscles.

A lethargic dog will hesitate to go for your routine walks; they will also have issues getting up. Your dog will lack the energy to stand and walk.

If this sign lasts for a day or more or is coupled with vomiting and diarrhea, then contact your vet immediately.

Difficulty in breathing

If the dog is poisoned and the poison has affected the heart, it will result in slow heart rate and retention of fluids in the lungs leading to labored breathing.

Difficulty in breathing will present as, deep breaths, flared nostrils, heavy movements in the chest cavity and extended neck and head.

Seizures and Tremors

Seizures and tremors are an indication that the poison is affecting the brain. If the dog has a seizure, it’ll convulse, urinate or defecate involuntarily, lose consciousness, or drool excessively.


Some poisons will make the dog sensitive to light. In such a case, the dog will usually prefer to rest in dark areas. Toxins affecting the nervous system will mostly result in photosensitivity.

Additionally, you must check whether the pet is sensitive to sound and touch.


Unconsciousness is a danger sign. It means the dog has been severely affected by the toxin. If you note such a sign, place your hands over the dog’s heart to check if you can feel the heartbeat. Immediately contact your vet.

Organ failure

As the full effects of the toxins manifest, major organs will start to fail. The heart, kidneys, lungs, and liver may start shutting down.

Unresponsive Behavior

Though the dog may be conscious, they may lack the ability to see or hear what’s happening around them— we refer to this state as stupor. Note that this is a danger sign, but you need not panic. It may be scary, but your vet will help you to overcome the stress.

symptoms of poisoning in dogs


Coma is a serious sign that indicates that death is knocking. A comatose dog will appear like they‘re sleeping, but they can’t wake up. Never give up even if your pet is comatose, your vet can still turn around the situation. Give them a chance to do what they know best.


Death is the ultimate result of dog poisoning. If you note this sign, rush immediately to your vet and please carry along any relevant sample such as vomit or stool, the dog may not have given up the spirit yet.

Things to consider if you suspect your dog has been poisoned

When you suspect poisoning in your pet, the steps you’ll take are very critical to the dog’s life. If you follow the wrong procedure, you may need up killing the pet. It is therefore essential to make sure you know what to do in such circumstances.

The first step would be to search for the possible cause of poisoning. If you get what poisoned the dog, the vet will have an easy task treating the dog. If you find an empty container of rodenticide, pesticide, medication or antifreeze take the container with you a proof of the possible cause of poisoning.

If you detect any vomit or stool in the vicinity, collect some samples and take them to the vet. The veterinarian needs it’s to make a quick diagnosis and save the life of your pet.

All these steps must be done in hast to save the life of the dog. Additionally, as you prepare to rush to the vet’s clinic, you need first to give them a call to direction on the first aid tricks you need to implement as you rush the pet to the clinic. Be ready to answer several questions as you make the call:

  1. The sex, age, breed, and weight of the dog
  2. Symptoms
  3. If you know the possible cause of the poisoning
  4. Amount of toxin it was exposed to and the duration.
  5. When the dog was exposed to the poison
  6. Nay containers or packaging available

After making the call and describing the situation, the vet might ask you to take some immediate measures. For example, your vet may ask you to avoid inducing vomiting.

Alternatively, they may ask you to help the dog ingest activated charcoal to neutralize the poison. Never act on you won advice. Only follow the instructions of your vet for the safety of your pet.

Avoid making matters worse by implementing self-taught remedies or asking for advice from friends and relatives.

Additionally never opt to search for remedies form the web. Remember that a local veterinarian is in a better position to assist than scores of information on your computer.

The poison control center or your vet might advise the following before rushing the pet to their office/clinic:

If the dog’s eyes or skin has been exposed to a known product, they may advise you to use soap and water to wash the dog’s skin (note the water and soap must be kept of the nose, eyes, ears, and mouth). In cases of eye poisoning, they may advise you to flush the eyes with water immediately to minimize poisoning.

If the dog has ingested a known poisonous substance, they may ask you to induce vomiting. Under these circumstances, we must take a sample of the vomit to the vet sealed in a plastic bag or container. Keep in mind that you should only induce vomiting under the guidance of an expert. Never induce vomiting under these circumstances

  1. If it’s over two hours since the dog ingested the poison.
  2. If the pet is convulsing, unconscious, or semiconscious.
  3. If the suspected poison was a strong acid, a cleaning product or an alkali, for example, a bleach.

Though it’s natural to panic when your dog is poisoned, you must try your best to avoid panicking. Be in full control of the situation besides acting with speed and purpose to save the dog.

Other relevant first aid tricks that may be helpful when your dog is poisoned include:

  1. Wrapping the dog with a blanket if it’s convulsing or comatose. Remember to carry along the suspected poison, maybe a leaf, plant or poison container.
  2. If the dog had licked poison, you might flush the dog with plenty of clean water to minimize the poisoning.

Make sure you have several contacts of your vet— if you have only one number it may n tog through. You should also consider having contacts of several vets in your locality.

If the official numbers aren’t going through, call their emergency number. The vet’s contacts should be available in the house so that anyone can call for emergency help.

Post-poisoning care for dogs

After taking your dog for treatment, you need to take them through the road to full recovery. The duration of the recovery period correlated to the type and amount of poison the pet had been exposed to.

You can use topical and vet-approved anti-histamines to take care of stings, bites, and skin rashes.

On the contrary, the ingestion of poison is trickier to handle. In this case, the liver and the kidney are the most affected organs. You might need to put your dog under an easily digestible diet to minimize straining these organs.

The dog’s food at this time should free from fats and proteins since the two will make the kidneys and liver work harder.


Though no pet owner anticipates poisoning, you must always be ready for the worst at all times. The best option is to make sure you have implemented the appropriate prevention measures to avoid the predicament.

All poisonous substances, plants, and medications must be beyond the reach of your dogs. Ensure you have a safe lockable cabinet for these substances.

As you know, dogs are adventurous creatures, and they will always get into places they’re not supposed to access. For more details on the prevention of dog poisoning, get in touch with your vet.


  1. https://ojs.library.okstate.edu/osu/index.php/OAS/article/viewFile/5216/4885
  2. https://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/151/1/21.short
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0021997587900910

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *