Has Your Dog Been Poisoned? Spot the Signs

Dogs are naturally nosey, and most are motivated by food, so often, they will chew and eat things they shouldn’t. As we do not have eyes in the back of our heads and cannot watch what our pup is doing 24/7, there is a chance they can ingest something harmful to their health. As responsible pet owners, our job is to look after our pets and spot illness or distress signs. Here are some warning signs that your dog has been poisoned and what to do about it.


A dog can be poisoned in three different ways – they can inhale poison, ingest it, and their skin can come in physical contact with it.

Many people are unaware that their pets can become poisoned through inhaling toxic fumes from household chemicals, paint, smoke, and insecticides. You may notice that you have a lethargic dog on your hands if they have breathed in such substances. The animal may also have difficulty breathing, their body may twitch, and they may drool excessively.

The most likely route of poisoning is through the mouth. Many human foodstuffs are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, raisins, grapes, and onions. However, not all cases are caused by food – other substances found around the house that are dangerous to dogs when ingested include bleach, rock salt, xylitol, flower bulbs, tobacco, alcohol, acorns, and cleaning products. If your dog has eaten something hazardous to their health, they may have diarrhea, vomiting, excess drool, tremors, and lethargy.

Certain poisons will cause specific physical symptoms – for example, the chemical in chocolate called theobromine is dangerous to dogs. It will cause the animal to convulse and shake, become agitated, and develop heart issues. Onions will cause a dog’s gums to become pale; they will have increased drool, oral irritation, sickness, and diarrhea. At the same time, grapes and raisins contain Vitis vinifera, which may cause kidney failure.

Dogs may also become poisoned from substances coming in contact with their skin. Tar, petroleum, paint and paint remover, household cleaners, stinging nettles, and excessive amounts of flea and tick treatment can cause severe irritation and poisoning.

Little white maltese dog and food ingredients toxic to him
Little white maltese dog and food ingredients toxic to him.

What to Do

If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, stay calm and gently remove the dog away from the source of the poison or vice versa, make them warm and comfortable, and phone the vet as soon as possible. Never try to induce vomiting in your dog or give them human medicine. If your dog struggles to breathe, try to keep their airways open by opening their mouth and pulling their tongue out of their mouth. If your dog stops breathing, you can perform CPR.

If your dog has come into contact with a hazardous substance that has covered their skin, you can gently wash the area with a mild shampoo and rinse thoroughly with warm water.

To prevent accidents from happening, try to watch your dog as much as you can and keep them from nibbling plants in the garden or remove any petals and leaves from your floor which may have fallen from houseplants. Be careful when using weed killers and insecticides in the garden – try to use pet-friendly chemicals. Be conscious of any chemicals you use in daily life and keep them away from your pets.

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