Poisoning in dogs: What you need to know

Posted by MyDogDoc on

Poisoning is one of the most common emergencies vets see. Dogs can be poisoned by inhalation (breathing in), ingestion (eating), or by skin contact. If you think your dog has been poisoned:

  • Move them away from the suspected poison

  • Make a note of what you think your dog has been poisoned with, and how much, and a rough idea how much your dog weighs

  • If possible, keep the packaging of the poisonous product so you can show it to your vet

  • Contact a vet, or the Veterinary Poisons Information Service, without delay

  • Don’t try to treat or remove a poison yourself without seeking vet advice

What things are poisonous to dogs?

Quite a lot of things, unfortunately!

There are quite a few common foods that are safe for humans to eat but which are very poisonous to dogs.

It does depend on how much or how long your dog has been in contact with a poison in many cases though.

Common poisons in dogs:

  1. Inhaled poisons


    -Household chemicals

    -Some paint fumes


  2. Ingested poisons

    -Rodenticide (rat poison)

    -Slug pellets

    -Certain plants and fungi


    -Petrol, antifreeze and screenwash

    -Household and garden chemicals


    -Glow-sticks and necklaces

    -Some paints and children’s modelling compounds

    -Human medicines and drugs

  3. Poisonous human foods


    -Raisins and grapes

    -Mouldy food



    -Macadamia nuts

    -Bread dough


    -Xylitol (a sweetener often found in chewing gum or peanut butter)

  4. Skin contact poisons



    -Household chemicals, paint, paint remover


    -Bee/wasp stings

    -Overdoses of contact or spot on medications

How will I know if my dog has been poisoned?

Poisons can cause a range of symptoms. The symptoms seen will depend on the type of poison. Some of the most common include vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, seizures, dilated pupils, weakness and inappetance. If your dog has inhaled something they may drool, cough or have difficulty breathing. In the worst cases, your dog may lose consciousness. Skin contact with a poison can cause itching, redness, hives, ulcers and bleeding of the skin. Your dog may be very agitated and unsettled.

What should I do if I suspect my dog has been poisoned?

Move your dog away from the poison, and other pets. Note down what you think has poisoned them, or take the packaging or plant sample, and try to work out how much they have had .

Contact your vet right away, or the Animal Poison line: 01202 509000 (https://www.animalpoisonline.co.uk)

(please note there is a charge for this service, see the website for details). Knowing roughly how much your dog weighs can be helpful. Please don’t try to treat your pet yourself without seeking advice from your vet first.

Treatment depends on the type of poison, how much, and how long ago. The Veterinary Poisons Information Service, who run the animal poisonline, can advise vets on the best treatment plan. Your vet may also need to run tests on your dog’s blood and urine.

Sometimes we can make your dog sick to bring up the poison. We often give them activated charcoal to help prevent the poison being absorbed by the body. However, sometimes making your dog sick will do more harm than good. We may need to hospitalise your dog and give them supportive treatment, such as fluids directly in to their veins, anti-sickness or anti-seizure medications. Some, but not all, poisons have a specific antidote.

It can be very scary when a pet has been poisoned, but please be assured that your vet will do all they can to help your dog.

What can I do to prevent my dog being poisoned?

  • Keep medicines and chemicals in a cupboard, preferably up high out of reach.

  • Try not to leave leftover food or snacks where your dog can reach them, or keep your dog out of high risk areas, like the kitchen and garage

  • Make sure bins are secure from prying paws and noses.

  • “Think dog” around seasonal celebrations like Christmas and Easter - keep the treats out of reach!

  • If your dog is prone to picking things up on walks, using a Baskerville muzzle may be advisable.

  • Always read the instructions for household chemicals and paints.

  • Keeping a record of amounts of medication left is a really good idea.

Animal poison line Dog Emergency Health Lifestyle Nutrition Poisoning Poisoning prevention Poisoning symptoms Poisons Puppies Senior VPIS

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