Dog near bar of chocolate

Key takeaway

While many people know that certain foods like chocolate are poisonous to dogs, there are also several plants, household chemicals and human medications that are poisonous. Recognizing and eliminating things that are poisonous helps you protect your dog. If your dog has ingested something poisonous, immediate life-saving treatment may be necessary, so it’s important to call a vet right away.

Most pet owners know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but you might not know that there are several other foods, plants, and household chemicals that are toxic for dogs. Understanding what is poisonous to dogs is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. If you’ve got poisonous plants or medication that could harm your dog around the house, you need to make sure it’s somewhere your dog can’t get to it.

It’s also important to be able to recognize the signs that your dog has been poisoned, that way you can get them to a vet for treatment as soon as possible. While the severity of dog poisons varies, some things that are poisonous to your dog require immediate, life-saving treatment. If your dog is displaying signs that they’ve been poisoned and you think you know what they ingested, you should call a vet or visit an emergency animal hospital to get that poison out of them as soon as possible.

While some potentially fatal dog poisons require immediate treatment, your vet may recommend other treatments as well. For example, your vet may recommend an antidote if there’s one available for the poison your dog consumed. If there’s no antidote available, your vet may simply recommend supportive treatment.

You may be wondering, why does my dog have diarrhea? Or what’s causing excessive vomiting? While the symptoms of poisoning in dogs can make it easy to confuse with other medical conditions, there are some key signs that your dog may have been poisoned. It’s also important to check spots around the house and yard where they may have  ingested something. If you’re worried about dog poisons, here’s everything you need to know.

Top Dog Poisons

Part of being a responsible dog owner is understanding what is poisonous to dogs so you can keep those things away from your dog. There’s a good chance you have some items around the house that could be poisonous to your dog, and your garden may also be a source of dog poisons. You also need to consider what your dog might be exposed to when you take them to a park or for a walk on your favorite trails.

Plants and Plant Products

You might not pay much attention to the plants your dog is around, but you should. Whether you’ve got a beautiful garden,  houseplants in  your home, or your dog likes to explore at the park, there are several different plants you should keep away from your dog.

Keep in mind that plants that are poisonous to dogs are typically only a problem if your dog ingests the plant. Simply being around these plants isn’t a huge problem, except for the fact that it gives your dog an opportunity to consume something toxic.

Here are some of the most common toxic plants and plant products:

  • Tulips
  • Daffodils
  • Sago Palms
  • Lilies
  • Pesticides

Pesticides are an especially big worry when it comes to dog poisons because they’re hard to spot. If you use any pesticides in your yard or garden, make sure you keep your dog out of that area for an appropriate amount of time. When you’re out walking your dog at the park or along city streets, it’s probably safe to assume that most plants are treated with some sort of pesticide and keep your dog away from them. This is especially important with anxious dog breeds and dogs that love to explore their surroundings.

Household Products

Just like you need to keep your children away from certain chemicals you may have around the house, there are a lot of household products that you need to keep away from dogs. Certain household cleaning chemicals, glues, and other chemicals can lead to serious medical issues for your dog, so those chemicals need to be stored somewhere safe when you aren’t using them.

You need to be especially careful if you’re using any rodenticides or insecticides in your home. If you’re using a pesticide that requires you to leave your home for a few days, make sure you don’t leave food and water bowls and dog food behind. Dogs may also get into pesticides and rodenticides that you use in your yard or garden, so keep them out of any areas where you’re using poison until that poison is no longer present.

Toxic household chemical to avoid:

  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Paint thinner
  • Glue
  • Rodenticides
  • Insecticides

Medications Intended for People

If you’ve ever dealt with a dog chewing paws or other anxiety-related problems, you may know that there are some human medications that dogs can safely take. However, there are also a lot of medications that can cause serious medical issues for dogs, so the best thing you can do as a dog owner is keep all your medication somewhere safe. If you or anyone else in the house spills any medication while taking it, make sure all the spilled medication is cleaned up so your dog can’t get to it.

While prescription medications can be especially dangerous, there are several over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that can lead to medical emergencies in dogs. You should only give your dog medication that’s been prescribed by a vet, or medication that your vet has instructed you on how to safely use.

As far as OTC medications go, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the biggest thing to watch out for. Excessive use of these medications can be damaging to a human liver, but that damage can be even worse for dogs. If your dog gets into Tylenol or ibuprofen, you should see a vet as soon as possible.

There are lots of prescription medications on the list of dog poisons. Antidepressants, pain medicines, and blood pressure medicines can all do serious harm to dogs, especially when taken in large amounts. It’s also unsafe to keep these medications around young children, so you should get rid of medication you no longer need and keep any other prescription drugs locked up safely.

  • OTC: Tylenol, ibuprofen, naproxen (Aleve)
  • Prescription: Antidepressants, pain medicines, blood pressure medicines

Human Food

Most people don’t think twice about what they’re feeding their dog as long as it’s not chocolate. It’s not uncommon to see dog owners call their dogs over when they drop a piece of food while eating or cooking. While it’s okay for your dog to have lots of different human foods, there are certain foods that are toxic to your dog or that may irritate their stomach.

As a dog owner, it’s important to understand what your dog can and can’t eat. As much as you may love spoiling your dog, you don’t want them to share food that’s going to make them sick. Generally, it’s best to feed dog food to your dog and keep your food on your plate, although certain foods such as chicken are okay. A poor diet may lead to diabetes in dogs, so talk to your vet about what your dog is eating.

It’s also important to keep in mind that most foods that are dog poisons are only lethal when ingested in large amounts. You may have seen a dog eat chocolate or other toxic foods without issue. The amount of food it takes to poison your dog depends on your dog’s weight, so smaller dogs may be more susceptible.

Here’s what you need to keep away from your dog when it comes to human food:

  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Grapes/Raisins
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
human foods that can be harmful to dogs

Signs Your Dog Has Been Poisoned

It’s not always easy figuring out what’s wrong with your dog, especially if you don’t know what they might have gotten into. Dog poisoning symptoms may also mimic symptoms that come with other medical issues, so it can be tough to determine if your dog was poisoned or is experiencing another problem. Clinical signs can vary depending on what type of toxin was ingested. This is why it’s so important to look out for symptoms of dog poisoning and take your dog to a vet if they’re experiencing any of those symptoms. Here are some of the symptoms you may notice if your dog has ingested something poisonous:

  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive bruising or bleeding
  • Nose bleeds
  • Unsteady on feet
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Drooling
  • Oral irritation
  • Pale gums
  • Inability to urinate or leaking urine

As soon as you notice your dog exhibiting symptoms of dog poisoning, take a quick look around your house to see if there are any signs that your dog got into something. It could be that somebody left something out on the counter that your dog ate, or perhaps they got into the garbage and ate something that’s making them sick. The sooner you can figure out what your dog ate and how much of it they ate, the easier it will be to treat your dog.

Signs your dog has been poisoned

In some cases, you may know your dog ate something poisonous because you saw them do it. If you see your dog eating something poisonous and you can’t get it out of their mouth, you should call a vet right away and tell them what your dog ate. Your vet can tell you how serious the problem is and give you tips to take care of your dog before you bring them into the vet.

Treating a Dog Who Has Been Poisoned

Dogs may eat poisonous things for lots of reasons, whether it’s puppy separation anxiety or a certain food that smells enticing. The good news is, there are a handful of treatment options when it comes to dealing with dog poisons. However, the first step is taking your dog to the vet to get a proper diagnosis, because certain poisons may require immediate, life-saving treatment. If your dog has ingested a lot of a toxic substance or a substance that’s especially toxic, you need to go to the vet right away.

Treatment for a poisoned dog depends on what kind of poison your dog has ingested. Certain things that are poisonous to dogs may have a specific antidote, and getting that antidote administered as soon as possible is an important part of treatment. This is also one of the reasons why it's so important to try to figure out what your dog might have gotten into, whether there are plants that look damaged or garbage strewn about the house.

If there’s not an antidote for the poison your dog has ingested, your vet will provide treatment to help absorb the poison in your dog’s system and give your dog the support they need to recover. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the specific treatment your dog gets depends on what kind of poison you’re dealing with, whether that poison was ingested or not, and what your vet decides is best.

Pet owner grabbing something out of dog’s mouth on walk

When you take your dog to the vet for poison that they’ve ingested, your vet may attempt to induce vomiting in order to get some of the poison out of their system. However, inducing vomiting isn’t a treatment option if vomiting up that poison could cause damage to the esophagus or stomach. In the event that too much time has passed or your dog is exhibiting certain symptoms, your vet may need to use a tube to flush your dog’s stomach. In  rare cases, stomach surgery may be required to physically remove the toxins that your dog has ingested.

If a vet can’t physically remove poison from a dog’s stomach, they may use activated charcoal to keep the toxins from being absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream further. Activated charcoal is administered via the mouth.

Some types of dog poisons don’t have to be ingested to harm your dog. If your dog is being poisoned by something that’s stuck in its fur and getting on its skin, a thorough soap-and-water washing is an effective way to prevent further skin damage. Dogs with long or matted fur may need to have some of their fur clipped to remove toxins.

Because there are so many different methods of treating poisoning in dogs, it’s important that you take your dog to the vet if you think they may have been poisoned. The less poison your dog is able to absorb, the better, so early detection is also a key to simple treatment.

Dog Poisons: Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs survive being poisoned?

The severity of dog poisoning depends on several factors, but dogs survive being poisoned all the time thanks to timely proper treatment. The biggest key to surviving dog poisons is getting your dog to the vet as soon as possible, that way your dog doesn’t continue absorbing toxins and getting worse. Some poisons may require an antidote or other immediate life-saving treatment, while others simply require general treatment to get your dog healthy again.

The amount of poison your dog ingests and the weight of your dog are the biggest factors when it comes to surviving poisoning. Certain dog poisons are only lethal to dogs in very large amounts, so you may have nothing to worry about if your dog just ate a small bite of chocolate. If you’ve got a smaller dog that got into a whole batch of brownies or ate a lot of medication, time is of the essence and you should get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

How long does it take for poisoning to kill a dog?

Just like there are a lot of factors that determine whether poisoning is fatal or not, different dog poisons operate on different timelines. Some poisons are highly lethal to dogs and can kill a dog in mere hours, while others have long, drawn-out effects on your dog’s health over time. For example, over-the-counter painkillers (NSAIDs) may cause damage to your dog’s liver, which may eventually lead to medical issues or even death.

Taking your dog to the vet as soon as possible is an important part of keeping poisoning from getting any worse. You want to stop your dog from absorbing the poison they ingested as soon as possible, or get the poison cleaned off of their skin or out of their fur if they didn’t ingest it. The sooner a vet treats your dog, the better odds they have of surviving—especially if there’s an antidote for the poison they ingested.

How do you save a poisoned dog?

In order to save a poisoned dog, you need to be able to recognize the signs of poisoning in dogs. If you think your dog might have been poisoned, take a quick look around your home and yard to see if there are any clues about what they may have gotten into. Figuring out what your dog got into lets you know how severe the situation is and how quickly you need to get your dog to the vet.

No matter what your dog got into, you should take them to the vet. Your vet can help you figure out what’s going on with your dog and stop your dog from further absorbing poison. If your dog needs immediate life-saving treatment or surgery, your vet can get that process started as soon as possible to increase the odds of survival. The sooner you see a vet, the better.

Final Notes

Watching your dog struggle to deal with the symptoms of poisoning is tough, and there are more dog poisons than you might think. Not only are certain foods poisonous, but your dog can also be poisoned by medications, household products, and plants and plant products. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, and tremors. If you think your dog has been poisoned, immediate action is essential.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number

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