Home "Ask the Dog"  Links Prevent Losing a Pet
About Us • Privacy Policy Comics Previcox Emails

Symptoms of Poisoning Requiring Immediate Attention 

If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a poison, it is important not to panic. While rapid response is important, panicking generally interferes with the process of helping your animal.

Take 30 to 60 seconds to safely collect and have at hand the material involved. This may be of great benefit to a vet as he determine exactly what poison or poisons are involved.

In the event that you need to take your animal to your local veterinarian, be sure to take with you any product container. Also collect and bring any material your pet may have vomited or chewed, in a zip-lock bag. If your animal is seizuring, losing consciousness, unconscious or having difficulty breathing, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Any delay could cause his death and every type of poison requires a different method of treatment.

If you cannot take your dog to a vet, read the following information carefully before doing anything!

Find what May Have Poisoned Your Dog

  • Poisons in the yard - Ant/Flea & Tick Products/Lawn fertilizers, etc. Dogs lick their paws when grooming thus ingesting the poison into their body.

  • Poisonus plants: Indoor/outdoor plants can be toxic if eaten.

  • Medications: Prescription drugs used alone or combined with others have caused many deaths, especially  NSAID's (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and the newer generation NSAID's known as Cox 2 Inhibitors. Some of these are Meloxicam (Mobic), Rimadyl (Carprofen), Deramaxx (Deracoxib), Previcox (firocoxib)

  • Household chemicals: Bleach, drain cleaner, toilet bowel cleaner, shoe polish, shampoo, furniture polish.

  • Snake or insect bites: Even small snakes can cause big problems for small dogs. Ant Bites, Scorpion Stings

  • Expired food: Meats, Rotten and decomposed food can cause vomiting severe cramps and worse.

  • Animal baits: Mouse traps, rat traps baited with peanut butter are sometimes tasty to dogs.

Signs to Watch For

  • Abnormal coloured tongue and gums (purple, blue or grey). One of the most obvious signs of toxicity.

  • Swollen or painful abdomen (stomach)

  • Bleeding from nose or mouth

  • Tremors, staggering, convulsions, weakness, collapse

  • Unusual behavior - such as imaginary biting, withdrawal, sudden aggressiveness, looks bewildered, unusual posture

  • Signs of Pain - constant or intermittent

  • Difficulty breathing - shallow or rapid breathing

  • Rapid heartbeat 

  • Dilated pupils

  • Can not urinate or move bowels (no pee or poo)

  • Bloody urine (pee) or painful defecation (poo) 

  • Vomiting or diarrhea - with blood or violent episodes.

When You Should Induce Vomiting

The following vomit guide is taken from Dogs: The Ultimate Care Guide, Good Health, Loving Care, Maximum Longevity, published by Rodale Press, Inc.

 Induce vomiting for the following

Antifreeze, Arsenic (ant/rat/mouse poison), Aspirin, Crayons, Insecticides (flea/tick dips), Kitchen matches, Medications, Shampoo
Shoe polish, Weed killers

DO NOT induce vomiting for the following

Battery acid, Bleach, Drain cleaner, Fertilizer, Furniture polish, Glue, Household Cleaners, Kerosene, Laundry detergent, Motor oil, Nail polish, Paint thinner, Paint brush cleaner, Paste (glue), Pine-oil cleaners,
Plaster, Putty, Toilet bowl cleaners, Turpentine

The Best Way to Induce Vomiting

1(one) teaspoon (5mL) of hydrogen peroxide per 10 lbs (4.536kg) of body weight can induce vomiting in a little as five minutes.

It is easiest to administer the peroxide using a syringe (without the needle of course). But if you do not have one handy, try a baby syringe, a turkey baster, a snow cone cup, you get the idea, anything which will safely get the peroxide into your dogs mouth.

DO NOT Induce Vomiting if Your Dog:

Is having trouble breathing

Is having seizures

Has a slow heart rate

Is unconscious

Has a bloated stomach

Has swallowed a caustic substance

Drain cleaners and petroleum-based products fit in this category. Caustic substances can burn twice -- once when swallowed and when vomited.Ingested poison more than an hour before. Inducing vomiting at this point is too late since the poison is already at work in his system.

Use Activated Charcoal to Absorb Poison

This is NOT the charcoal used for barbecuing. It is the activated charcoal found in the health aisle of your grocery store.

Activated charcoal is what you will want to use if it has been more than an hour after your dog has injested a poison and also after you have made him vomit (if that was what was required according to the table above).

Activated charcoal is estimated to reduce absorption of poisonous substances up to 60%.

It works by adsorbing chemicals, thus reducing their toxicity (poisonous nature), through the entire length of the stomach and small and large intestines (GI tract).

Activated charcoal itself is a fine, black powder that is odorless, tasteless, and nontoxic.

Activated charcoal is often given after the stomach is pumped (gastric lavage). Gastric lavage is only effective immediately after swallowing a toxic substance (within about one-half hour) and does not have effects that reach beyond the stomach as activated charcoal does.

Activated charcoal is often combined with sorbitol (a substance that stimulates the bowels to move, like a laxative) to shorten the amount of time to move through the system and reduce the possibility of constipation. However, to avoid adverse effects, sorbitol is not given with every dose of activated charcoal.

Dogs Sick from Fuel Poisonings

Two owners have now reported their dogs getting sick or intoxicated from fumes of hydrocarbon fuels. One case involved a fuel leaking from a heater. The other gasoline fumes. In both case the dogs began acting strangely, they ran in circles and snapped at imaginary objects.

They became intoxicated by the fumes. Hydrocarbon fumes can replace the air in the lungs and result in loss of oxygen to the brain.

Household Drugs

Many human type drugs can be toxic to dogs. It may surprise you that many people feel that if a human can take a drug, then so can a dog. On the reverse side of that, we know people who have borrowed their dog's prescription. Treat drugs as though you are are watching out for a small baby. Dogs will get into things out of curiosity - keep drugs out of reach. Some of those that you may believe harmless follow:

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) - Can Be TOXIC to Dogs
Vomiting, diarrhea
Difficulty in breathing
Dark colored urine
Upset stomach
Increased urination
Blood in stool
Staggering or seizures.

Can lead to liver or kidney disease. Induce vomiting if possible and seek immediate veterinary help.

Other drugs - even aspirin, can be poisonous if too much is ingested by your dog. Just think of a dog as a baby, would you give the medicine to a baby without first consulting the doctor, and if so - what dosage level would you give him?

Antifreeze (containing ethylene glycol) ingestion- Usually one hour or less to get immediate veterinary help.

Antifreeze Poisoning
Increased thirst
Loss of coordination
Kidney failure

Yard Chemicals

Once one of the most common causes of irritation or illness. Such a wide variety exists nowadays that it is difficult to provide a description or suggestions for help. From fertilizers to weed or bug killers, the most common symptom is irritation to the feet followed by:

Drowsy or listlessness

Difficulty breathing

Loss of appetite


Vomiting or diarrhea.

It is best to thoroughly wash the exposed area using a mild shampoo with water and flushing. Seek veterinary care.

Rat Poisoning and It's Effects
Rat poison symptoms may take several days to appear.

Pale gums
Bruises on body or gums
Bloody urine or feces (some times blue green from dyes)
Death will be immediate without veterinary assistance. Rat poisons usually inhibit vitamin K, causing internal bleeding

Please make people aware of the symptoms of rat poisoning. Had I known about the bleeding from the nose, etc., I might have been able to save my Airedale. (I thought she had gotten cut on something even though I couldn't see any marks.)

I didn't know that rat poison causes the blood to quit clotting and that those who ingest it bleed to death internally. By the time I realized my dog was sick, it was too late. She died at the veterinarian's within 45 minutes.

I also wish I had requested he keep a sample of her blood to send in for verification. I wasn't aware that the poisoning can take up to 3 weeks to do its deadly deed.

 My dogs are ALWAYS in their back yard or on a leash with me. I purposely put up a 6 foot high privacy fence to protect them from perverts who would harm them... sometimes, there is just no way to ensure safety of those we love.

Snail Bait
Loss of coordination
Muscle Tremors
Increased heart rate.

Other Insect and or rodent Poisons Symptoms usually occur within two hours - nervousness, seizures (sometimes provoked by loud noise), death. Induce vomiting and seek immediate veterinary help.

Lead (Once found in many products including paints, insecticides, and even golf balls )

Unusual behavior
Uncoordinated movement

Smaller or younger dogs at greater risk than are adults. - consult veterinarian

Fish Hooks - your dog may be attracted to the smell of the bait and try to eat the hook. In other cases they are just caught with the hook as they pass by. Do not try to pull the hook out if it has penetrate past the barb. Seek veterinary help! Usually the dog will show signs of:

Drooling or pawing at the mouth
Limping (foot)
Insects - Ingestion of Insects
Difficulty breathing

Bee Stings (also wasp, hornet)

Dogs may have irritation around the mouth area from bites or stings. Give water, induce vomiting, seek veterinary assistance.

Difficulty breathing

Dogs have less reaction to stings than people. You can usually find the stinger and remove it. Most common areas are around the face and particularly the nose. Reduce swelling with ice wrapped in a towel.

Spider Bites (also Ant Bites, Scorpion Stings)

Insect ingestion if it is in the dog's mouth

Irritated or painful skin area
Open sore
Muscle pain or contractions
Blood in urine
Difficult or rapid breathing
Shock or paralysis

Most spiders are nonpoisonous so bites can be treated like normal insect bites (see also bee stings). Apply ice wrapped in a towel for 10 minute intervals to reduce swelling. If poisons is suspected seek veterinary help.

Snake Bites (some or all)

Swelling or bruising
Respiratory distress
Digestive upset

Usually the bite is located - either two puncture wounds (poisonous) or U shaped (non poisonous - caused by many teeth). Keep the dog calm and warm, rush to veterinarian.

Toad Poisoning

Drool or mouth irritation
Shaking head
Vomiting or dry heaves
Weakness (or collapsing)
Difficulty breathing
Blue gums

Flush the mouth with water and seek veterinary care. If possible identify the type of toad.

Plants - iPawz keeps a list of poisonous plants. Usually the more colourful, the more deadly. ~Mel

There are dozens of plants that can be either irritating or poisonous. There is no way we could list all here. Our main point is to watch for eating of any plants, followed by symptoms indicating that they have an ill effect or your dog. Also note that even getting a twig or stick caught in the throat can be life threatening.

You should watch for warning signs if your dog eats any kind of plant. Some dogs may be allergic to plants that are harmless to others. And, there are many plants that can be very poisonous. Each plant can result in a different symptom - any single symptom or sometimes all of the following:

Irritation around mouth
Drooling or discharge from mouth or nose
Swelling around moth or throat
Excessive thirst
Upset stomach or vomiting
Stomach pain
Urine color change
Dilated eyes (pupils)
Difficulty breathing
Tremors, seizures, convulsions
Irregular, slow or rapid heart beat

These can be followed by damage to the internal organs (liver, kidneys or heart) or even death. In some cases birth defect in offspring have resulted.

Get help from your veterinarian if you suspect something serious.

1-888-4-ANI-HELP (1-888-426-4435)

If you suspect your dog has eaten something poisonous and you know what he ate, get the container and call either your vet or local animal hospital with the information listed in the contents.

Or you can call the National Animal Poison Control Center. Take a minute and check out their web page , loaded with good advice. Note that the call to the NAPCC is not free, you will pay between $20 and $30 (or more).

Your vet may want you to bring in any samples of vomit or anything your dog has chewed. They need to determine what the poison is (or if it is poisonous).

More on Poisons: