Dogs are curious creatures, to be sure. They have a super powerful sense of smell and taste and use these to explore their world. Remarkable as these heightened senses are, they can sometimes lead curious doggos into trouble, enticing them to consume things that can cause them harm.
As much as you wish you could watch your dog every minute of every day to make sure they don’t consume anything dangerous, it’s not a foolproof strategy. Things can happen fast, and poisons can be wolfed down before you can even utter your ‘leave it’ command.
So, it’s a good idea, as a pet parent, to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of poisoning in dogs, common poisons that your dog may be exposed to, and what to do in the event your dog is poisoned.
- How to tell if your dog has been poisoned
- Pet Poison Hotlines
- Common poisons and types of poisoning in dogs
- Treating and preventing poisoning in dogs
- Emergency Fund
How to tell if your dog has been poisoned
The symptoms of poisoning in dogs can vary depending on the type of poison consumed and the quantity your dog has been exposed to.
Everyday household items, plants, chemicals, and even foods can be poisonous to your dog and cause many symptoms you need to look for.
While many symptoms could indicate that your dog has been poisoned, the most commons signs include the following:
- Gastrointestinal signs include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, loss of appetite, dry heaving, and nausea.
- Internal bleeding can be identified by pale gums, a racing heart, coughing or vomiting blood, weakness, and lethargy.
- Increased or decreased urination, excessive drinking and lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea which can indicate kidney failure.
- Yellow gums, dark, tarry stool, vomiting, and diarrhea can indicate liver failure.
- Seizures and tremors.
Read more: 10 Plants Poisonous to Cats and Dogs
Pet Poison Hotlines
Pet Poison Helpline (US, Canada, and the Caribbean) - 1-855-764-7661
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center - 1-888-426-4435
Common poisons and types of poisoning in dogs
According to vet research, there are so many substances that can poison your dog. Some are obvious, like medications and chemicals used around the home, but some are less obvious because they’re safe for humans, so we assume they would be safe for dogs too.
Everyday household items that are poisonous to dogs include:
- Medication for humans like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
- Prescriptions medications like antidepressants and blood pressure medications.
- Foods like garlic, onions, chocolate, avocado, grapes, and raisins, as well as artificial sweeteners like xylitol.
- Poisons used to control weeds and household pests like ants and slugs.
- Products like bleach and cleaning materials.
- Garden plants like tulips, azaleas, sago palms, holly.
What to do in an emergency
If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, the sooner you take action, the better. Getting your dog treatment as early as possible can make a marked difference in the outcome.
The first thing you want to do is make sure you get your dog away from the poisonous substance. Be aware of the situation and your dog’s symptoms, taking in as much of the scene as possible to help answer questions your vet may ask later.
Read more: 7 Critical Signs Your Pet Needs Immediate Veterinary Attention
Next, call your vet. It’s a good idea to have your vet programmed into your speed dial list to help in such situations. If it’s after hours, call the nearest emergency clinic or pet poison hotline.
If you can collect a sample of the poison safely, that can be useful. Anything that can help your vet diagnose and treat your pet is beneficial – a piece of the packaging, a sample of vomit if your dog has been sick. Gather as much information about the scene as you can. Petcube's interactive pet camera can help you identify the "crime scene".
It’s crucial that you follow your vet’s advice as closely as you can.
Treating and preventing poisoning in dogs
Prevention is always better than cure, so the best way to prevent poisoning in dogs is to ensure that you manage your dog’s environment. Make sure that any harmful substances are kept well out of reach, your garden doesn’t contain any dangerous plants, and when you’re out walking, make sure your dog is trained to ‘leave it’ at your command.
But we also know that no matter how careful you are, there is absolutely no way to be 100% certain that your dog won’t consume a poisonous substance. Knowing what to do if your dog swallows a toxic substance can make a huge difference.
How your vet treats your dog will depend significantly on the substance that has been consumed and the amount. You must collect samples and even photos to bring to your vet.
Your vet will first want to prevent further absorption of the poison in your dog’s body. Activated charcoal can absorb whatever poison is in the stomach. Enemas can help flush out the gut, while gastric lavage will help wash out the inside of the stomach. Your vet may also opt to induce vomiting.
After that, supportive medications can be administered to help your dog’s kidneys and liver process whatever remains of the poison, and heal any damage caused by the toxins.
The good news is that most pets that are poisoned do go on to make a recovery.
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What is salmon poisoning in dogs?
If you live in the United States Pacific Northwest, you should familiarize yourself with the symptoms of salmon poisoning in dogs.
Salmon poisoning (also known as salmon poisoning disease) is a potentially fatal condition seen in dogs that have consumed raw or cold-smoked fish like trout and salmon that are infected with an organism called Neorickettsia helminthoeca.
So, it’s not technically a toxin but a bacterial infection, which can be fatal if not treated. Symptoms of salmon poisoning in dogs include lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, weakness, weight loss, increased heart rate, respiratory rate, tremors, and seizures.
What plants are dangerous to dogs?
Many common plants can be toxic to dogs, and dog owners should be aware of this. Oleander poisoning in dogs, acorn poisoning in dogs, and even tulip poisoning in dogs are responsible for many visits to the vet around the world.
Knowing which plants to avoid is super helpful in keeping your best buddy safe. Unfortunately, not all plant-related toxins are apparent. Sometimes it isn’t the plant that is toxic but the pesticides and insecticides that have been used.
Roundup is a common all-purpose weed killer that has devastating effects on insects and animals. Roundup poisoning symptoms can include burns or sores around the mouth, nose, and on paws, rashes and itchy skin, vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, fits or seizures, and excessive drooling.
What common household poisons do dog owners need to be aware of?
Chemicals in and around the home can be highly toxic to pets. Substances like bleach, chlorine, gasoline, and even something as innocent-seeming as salt can lead to dog poisoning. Bleach poisoning in dogs and chlorine poisoning in dogs are widespread and can be easily prevented.
My dog ate a toad – what are the symptoms of toad poisoning in dogs?
For dogs, few things are more fun than chasing small critters. Toads are just one such critter, but certain toad species can secrete toxins as a defense mechanism.
Not all toads are toxic, and most toads will only cause mild symptoms to dogs who lick or consume them – drooling, vomiting, and some oral irritation.
But there are a small number of toad species that can cause severe toad poisoning in dogs. The cane toad and the Colorado River/Sonoran Desert toad are known for causing severe and life-threatening symptoms.
Within minutes, your dog may begin drooling excessively and frothing at the mouth. Your dog may seem in pain, particularly in its mouth where the gums will be very red. Vomiting and diarrhea precede tremors, seizures, difficulty breathing, and abnormal heart rates. Signs progress pretty rapidly, and without urgent treatment, death is likely.
What is carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas produced by incomplete combustion of carbon fuels. Usually, carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when dogs are left in an enclosed area where carbon monoxide is being released, usually as a result of human error.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs include drowsiness, weakness, difficulty breathing, seizures, uncoordinated movements, coma and even death. Repeated exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can cause nausea, vomiting, coughing, loss of stamina, changes in walking, and elevated levels of acids in the blood.