What to Do if Your Dog Eats Something Poisonous

Many substances can pose a threat to your dog’s well-being, ranging from household chemicals and garden plants to spoiled sidewalk snacks and table scraps pilfered from the kitchen counter.

Regardless of the origin or nature of the toxin, it’s essential to recognize the potential signs of poisoning and act swiftly to ensure your dog’s safety.

Detecting these early warning signs can be a crucial factor in saving your furry friend’s life. Therefore, being vigilant and informed about common causes of poisoning in dogs is paramount. In this article, we’ll go into these hazards, empowering you with the knowledge to protect your beloved pet.

From everyday items that may be hiding in your home to outdoor dangers, we’ll cover a wide spectrum of potential threats. By understanding the risks and knowing how to react, you can provide your dog with the best chance of a safe and healthy life.

So, let’s explore the various sources of danger and learn how to keep your canine companion out of harm’s way.

Signs of Poisoning in Dogs

Identifying signs of poisoning in dogs is crucial for their well-being, as swift action can make all the difference. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it provides a valuable overview of common indicators to watch for if you suspect your dog may have ingested something harmful. A combination of clinical signs and thorough veterinary examination can help pinpoint the cause and severity of poisoning.

Gastrointestinal signs:

Gastrointestinal symptoms are frequently observed, including vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, loss of appetite, and bouts of nausea or dry heaving. These signs often serve as early warnings of potential poisoning.

Internal bleeding:

Internal bleeding is a severe concern, characterized by pale gums, a racing heart, coughing up or vomiting blood, weakness or lethargy, and even the dog collapsing or falling over. Recognizing these symptoms is critical for timely intervention.

Kidney failure:

Kidney failure may manifest as increased or decreased urination heightened thirst, alongside a lack of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Liver failure:

Liver failure can be signaled by yellowed gums, abnormal behavior or dullness, tarry stool (melena), vomiting, diarrhea, or collapse due to low blood sugar.

It’s vital to remember that poisoning symptoms can vary widely depending on the substance ingested and its toxicity. Thus, vigilance and prompt veterinary care are essential when you suspect your dog may have encountered a potential poison.

What are the Common causes of poisoning in dogs?

Numerous everyday household items and foods can pose a threat to dogs, even if their toxicity isn’t immediately apparent. It’s essential to exercise caution and refrain from feeding your dog anything whose safety for dogs you’re unsure about.

Some common culprits known to cause issues in dogs include chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, alcohol, sugar-free gum containing xylitol, and high-fat foods.

Moreover, there are several other foods that can be harmful to dogs, including caffeine, avocados, macadamia nuts, peaches, and plums, as well as raw or undercooked eggs, meat, and fish.

It’s not just edibles; various flowers and plants commonly found in households can be poisonous to dogs. These include azaleas, Easter lilies, foxgloves, stargazer lilies, cyclamen, oleanders, tiger lilies, and daffodils.

Certain plants, like sago palms, poinsettias, hydrangeas, ivy, tomato plants, aloe, marijuana plants, and snake plants, can also pose a risk to dogs.

Surprisingly, everyday household products can be hazardous to your dog’s health. These include human medications, antifreeze, fabric softener sheets, pesticides, lawn fertilizers, weed killers, mothballs, rat poison, paint, and bleach. Since most of these items are harmful to humans as well, it’s imperative to ensure they are kept out of your dog’s reach.

How long does it take for a dog to show signs of poisoning?

The time it takes for a dog to exhibit signs of poisoning varies depending on the toxin. Some toxins prompt immediate reactions, while others lead to symptoms emerging hours or even days later.

For example, antifreeze poisoning can manifest in as little as 30 minutes, while chocolate poisoning symptoms typically appear after 6 to 12 hours. In the case of anticoagulant rat poisons, it might take 3-5 days after ingestion for dogs to display symptoms.

Can dogs survive being poisoned?

Dogs can indeed survive poisoning, but the outcome largely hinges on the type of toxin, the amount ingested, and the promptness of treatment. Dogs that ingest small quantities of a toxic substance and receive rapid treatment generally have a higher chance of survivals.

Depending on the specific poisoning, some dogs may require weeks or even months to recover, and permanent organ damage can occur in certain cases even after recovery.

What to Do if Your Dog Has Been Poisoned

Regrettably, there are limited options for pet owners to address poisoning in their dogs at home. However, veterinarians possess several methods to eliminate toxins from a dog’s system.

When developing a treatment plan for their patients, vets take various factors into account:

  • The specific poison consumed
  • The quantity of the toxin ingested
  • The dog’s size, breed, age, and medical background
  • The dog’s level of hydration
  • The duration since the dog ingested the toxin

Once the veterinarian identifies the type of toxins and assesses the case’s severity, they may implement one or more of the following treatment procedures.


Fortunately, antidotes exist for certain common canine toxins, such as anticoagulant rat poison and ethylene glycol (a toxic component found in some antifreeze products).

In the case of significant antifreeze ingestion, veterinarians may administer fomepizole, an intravenous antidote that impedes the breakdown of ethylene glycol, reducing the risk of organ damage.

However, it’s important to note that this treatment can be quite expensive, and the dog may also require hemodialysis in addition to the antidote.

Moreover, fomepizole is most effective when administered within 12 hours of antifreeze ingestion.

For dogs suspected of consuming anticoagulant rodenticides, veterinarians will typically provide vitamin K1. This vitamin helps restore platelet function. Since anticoagulant rodenticides have a lengthy half-life, vitamin K1 therapy often continues for several weeks.

 Induced vomiting

If your dog is brought to the veterinarian promptly, they may have the option to induce vomiting to eliminate the toxins from your dog’s stomach.

However, it’s important to note that inducing vomiting is most effective when done within a 2-4 hour window after ingestion, and even then, there’s no guarantee that your dog will be able to expel all the toxins.

Regrettably, in many instances of poisoning, symptoms may remain unnoticed until hours or even days later. By the time the dog exhibits symptoms and receives medical attention, inducing vomiting might no longer be a feasible option.

Moreover, if a dog consumes a corrosive substance like bleach or drain cleaner, veterinarians typically refrain from inducing vomiting to prevent further harm to the dog’s esophagus. Your dog’s welfare is the top priority, and immediate veterinary care is essential in such scenarios.

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is another primary method used to counteract poisoning in dogs. Veterinarians administer activated charcoal orally, where it binds with the poison, preventing toxic byproducts from entering the bloodstream.

The use of activated charcoal in dogs is safe, and it will be excreted from their system without any issues.

Gastric lavage

Gastric lavage, also known as stomach pumping, is an alternative method that veterinarians employ to eliminate toxic substances from a dog’s stomach. This procedure is typically carried out when induced vomiting is either ineffective or not recommended due to the specific toxin ingested.

In a gastric lavage procedure, the veterinarian will rinse the stomach with water and repeat the process to eliminate as much of the stomach contents as possible. This procedure is performed under anesthesia, ensuring the dog is comfortable. Veterinarians often administer activated charcoal before and after this procedures to enhance its effectiveness in removing toxins.

Bland diet during recovery

Poisoning frequently results in severe gastrointestinal symptoms. To alleviate the strain on their digestive tract during the recovery process, some dogs may need to be placed on a bland diet. This gentle diet can aid in a smoother recuperation.

Natural Remedies for Dog Ear Infection Treatment


The type of substance ingested plays a significant role in the treatment plan for a poisoned pet. In certain cases, veterinarians may recommend early dialysis.

This procedure proves particularly effective against poisoning caused by alcohol or ethylene glycol, helping to prevent or minimize kidney damage.

The process involves connecting the pet to a dialyzer, which extracts the blood, filters out toxins, and then returns the purified blood to the body. However, it’s important to note that this treatment can be expensive and isn’t widely accessible.

What if I Suspect Someone Poisoned My Dog?

Instances of intentional poisonings are fortunately rare, and proving such cases without concrete evidence can be challenging.

If you suspect that someone has intentionally poisoned your pet, it’s crucial to take immediate action.

Your veterinarian can conduct diagnostic tests to detect toxins, while in cases where your pet has passed away, a veterinary lab might be able to perform an autopsy to ascertain the cause of death.

How to prevent poisoning in dogs

Preventing poisoning in dogs is undoubtedly the best course of action. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to keep your canine companion safe:

  • Secure Garbage: Ensure your garbage cans have secure lids to prevent your dog from rummaging through them.
  • Know Toxic Foods: Familiarize yourself with foods that are toxic to dogs to avoid accidental ingestion.
  • Limit Human Food: Be cautious about feeding your dog human food, and only do so if you’re certain it’s safe for dogs and in moderation.
  • Pet-Proof Your Home: Keep hazardous items like cleaning products, plants, and flowers out of your dog’s reach, both indoors and in your garden.
  • Practice Good Hygiene: After handling raw meats, fish, or eggs, rinse your hands thoroughly to prevent contamination.
  • Avoid Leaving Alone: Don’t leave your dog alone for extended periods, especially if they tend to get bored and explore potentially harmful items.

In conclusion, safeguarding your dog’s well-being is a shared responsibility for all pet owners. Accidents can occur, but being prepared and acting swiftly can be life-saving.

If you suspect your pup has consumed something toxic, take immediate action. Be vigilant for warning signs, follow the necessary steps, and contact your veterinarian when required.

Prevention remains the most effective approach. Keep dangerous substances out of your pet’s reach, opt for pet-safe alternatives, and stay informed.

Your dog’s health relies on your vigilance and preparedness. By staying proactive and knowledgeable, you can provide your beloved companion with many happy and healthy years together.

image source: pikisuperstar


Hi, friends! I'm Sam (blog owner/article researcher). I research & write dog useful and helpful related articles for common questions many dog owners search for answers to. My goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior and keep up with the latest scientific research in the canine niche. Thanks for visiting my blog. Feel free to browse my great articles from the menu above or the home page.

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