How To Tell If Your Dog Ate Something Poisonous

And what to do 🤕

dog with poisonous foods

It can be really scary if your dog suddenly starts acting strange or seems like he’s sick, especially if you don’t know why or what’s causing it.

So it’s good to know what the symptoms of poisoning are in dogs so you can tell when your dog eats something toxic and get him the medical attention he needs.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Travis Davison, a veterinarian at Bluffton Veterinary Hospital in South Carolina, to find out the symptoms of poisoning in dogs and what you can do to help.

Signs of poisoning in dogs

The symptoms of poisoning in dogs can vary depending on the type of poisonous substance your dog ate.

For example, symptoms if your dog eats chocolate can include increased heart rate and hyperactivity, while symptoms of eating a toxic plant can include weakness and seizures.

According to Dr. Davison, symptoms can include “vomiting, diarrhea, not eating, lethargy, seizures or just odd behavior.”

There are some typical signs to watch out for if your dog ate something toxic, which include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Not eating
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lack of coordination
  • Mouth or skin irritation

Signs of poisoning can show up within a few hours, but depending on what your dog ate, sometimes they can take longer to appear, so you shouldn’t wait around to see symptoms before taking your pup to the vet.

Things that are poisonous to dogs

There are a lot of common household items and foods that are poisonous to dogs that aren’t super obvious (which is also why you shouldn’t feed your dog anything unless you’re 100 percent sure it’s safe).

Chocolate, onions, grapes and raisins, alcohol, sugar-free gum (with xylitol as the sugar substitute) and high-fat foods are the ones that I see issues with most commonly,” Dr. Davison told The Dodo.

Some other foods that are poisonous to dogs include caffeine; avocados; macadamia nuts; peaches; plums; and raw or undercooked eggs, meat and fish.

Many common flowers and plants can be poisonous for dogs as well.

Some of these flowers include azaleas, Easter lilies, foxgloves, stargazer lilies, cyclamen, oleanders, tiger lilies and daffodils.

Some plants that are poisonous for dogs include sago palms, poinsettias, hydrangeas, ivy, tomato plants, aloe, marijuana plants and snake plants.

And finally, everyday household products can be poisonous to your dog, such as human medications, antifreeze, fabric softener sheets, pesticides, lawn fertilizers, weed killers, moth balls, rat poison, paint and bleach. Most of these items are also harmful if you eat them, so it should be easier to remember to keep them away from your dog.

What to do if your dog is poisoned

If you see your dog eat something toxic or if you notice any of the symptoms of poisoning, you should contact your vet immediately.

“Contact your vet ASAP,” Dr. Davison said. “They may have you contact an animal poison control center (they will charge a fee, but it's worth it).”

Two phone numbers you should always keep on hand are the ASPCA poison control number, (888) 426-4435, and the Pet Poison Helpline, (888) 426-4435, so you have them at the ready in case of emergency.

Try to provide as much information as possible to your vet. This will help them get the best treatment for your dog and treat him more quickly, and faster treatment will usually lead to a better outcome for your dog.

Dog poisoning treatment

Treatment for poisoning will depend on a few factors, which is another reason why it’s important to provide as much information as you can. These factors include the type of toxic substance your dog ate, how much he ate, how long it’s been since he ate the toxin and if he has any other conditions or illnesses.

“Some things can be fixed very quickly and easily, [but] some require more intensive care — inducing vomiting, IV fluids, medications to manage symptoms, monitoring lab work for blood sugar/organ damage, etc.,” Dr. Davison said.

Possible treatments for poisoning in dogs include:

  • Induced vomiting
  • IV fluids to flush the toxin out of your dog’s system
  • Laxatives
  • A stomach tube to remove any of the toxic substance
  • Activated charcoal to prevent absorption of the toxin
  • Surgery
  • Additional supportive treatment to control seizures, heart rate, pain, etc.

The best thing you can do is prevent poisoning before it happens — keep anything that could be potentially dangerous to your pup out of his reach, and avoid giving him food if you’re not sure it’s totally safe.

But just in case your dog does manage to get into something he shouldn’t, keep these symptoms of dog poisoning in mind, and if you notice your dog showing any of these signs, contact your vet immediately.

If you get your dog to the vet ASAP, he’ll most likely be just fine.