11 Symptoms Of Dog Poisoning + What You Need To Know To Save Your Dog’s Life

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You could be the most vigilant, careful dog owner in the world and something could still happen that puts your beloved fur buddy in harm’s way!  It is always scary when your dog is sick but by knowing the symptoms of dog poisoning, you will quickly be able to get help which could be the difference between life and death for your dog.

There are many foods, medications, plants, chemicals and toxins that are poisonous to dogs and unfortunately, many of these items are regularly found in our homes.   

According to Vets Now:

Pet poisonings are one of the most common emergencies our vets and vet nurses see — and statistics show around nine in 10 of these happen while pets are in their own home.

During certain holiday seasons — such as winter and Easter — cases go up considerably, often as a result of chocolate ingestion or cats and dogs eating foods infused with raisins, sultanas and currants. Antifreeze poisoning is another common emergency.

It is important to note that symptoms of dog poisoning might not appear right away. So If you know for certain that your dog has eaten something poisonous, you must contact your vet immediately even if you don’t see any symptoms.

Symptoms of Dog Poisoning

1. Tummy Upsets

An upset tummy is probably one of the most common symptoms of dog poisoning. Tummy upsets could include:

  • Nausea
  • Dry heaving
  • Vomiting
  • Diaarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Of course, these symptoms are pretty common so how do we know if any of them are definitely symptoms of dog poisoning?

If your dog is happy, alert, energetic and generally acting like his normal self then it’s unlikely that he has eaten anything poisonous. Keep a close eye on him and make sure his symptoms don’t get worse.

However, you definitely need to contact your vet if your dog is:

  • Unhappy or lathargic
  • Drooling excessively
  • His vomit or diarrhea are a strange colour
  • You see blood in his vomit or diarrhea

2. Breathing Problems

Shortness of breath, troubled breathing, labored breathing or wheezing could all be symptoms of dog poisoning. You might also notice that your dog’s gums turn blue.

Breathing problems are often caused when your dog breathes in airborne poisons or toxic fumes. Watch out for things like insecticides, tear gas, smoke, household chemicals, etc. If your dog is exposed to these types of poisons and toxins his airways will become inflamed and irritated which could make it difficult for him to breathe. Some of these types of airborne poisons can also cause other symptoms of dog poisoning such as vomiting, tremors or collapse.

It goes without saying that you should contact your vet immediately if you notice that your dog is experiencing any type of breathing difficulties.

How To Perform CPR On Your Pet

Animal Emergency Services created this great video explaining how to administer CPR if your pet has stopped breathing. They discuss how to give CPR to both large breed dogs as well as smaller pets.

3. Mouth Irritations

Mouth irritations are common symptoms of dog poisoning especially if your dog has swallowed something toxic.

If your dog has been exposed to a toxic substance, it will often irritate your dog’s mouth leading to excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth. These symptoms of dog poisoning are very common in dogs that may have eaten a poisonous plant or even some type of toxic chemical.

There have also been cases of dogs that have been poisoned by toads when exposed to the toxic substance that the toads secrete to defend themselves. While most cases are usually mild, some toads are very dangerous and it’s best to contact your vet immediately if you notice that your dog has been exposed to a toad.

Within minutes of licking or ingesting a toad, drooling and frothing at the mouth occur. The gums may become very red and signs of pain, including pawing at the mouth or vocalizing, may be seen. Vomiting and diarrhea are common.

Signs typically progress rapidly to include stumbling, tremors, seizures, abnormal eye movements, difficulty breathing, increased or decreased heart rate and abnormal heart rhythms. Without rapid treatment, death may occur.

VCA Animal Hospitals | Toad Poisoning in Dogs

4. Discolored Gums

Your dog’s gum color can tell you quite a bit, so if you are concerned about him, check his gums.

Your dog’s normal gum color is usually a bubble gum pink color. If you press your dog’s gums with your finger they should become a pale pink-white color. However, when you remove your finger they should quickly return to their normal color.

  • Pale gums can point to internal bleeding, this is especially true if your dog has eaten rat poison. 
  • Blue coloured gums may be as a result of a toxin that affects the respiratory system
  • Yellowish gums could be caused by toxic plant or medication ingestion which could lead to liver failure.

How To Check Your Pet’s Gum Color

5. Swelling

Swelling is often a symptom of an insect sting or snake bite. It is very important that you contact your vet immediately if you see that your dog is having any type of allergic reaction to the bite or sting Signs of an allergic reaction could include:

  • Swelling
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blue tongue / gums

Bee Stings

You will usually be able to see if your dog has been stung by a bee. There will usually be localized swelling in that area or if your dog was stung on his paw, he might be limping. Once you have found the area where your dog was stung, you will need to remove the stinger. The quicker you can do this the better as the stinger will continue to pump venom into your dog’s body for about 2 to 3 minutes after he was stung.

It is best not to use tweezers to remove the stinger as you may end up pushing more venom into your dog. Rather use something like a credit card or knife to scrape the stinger out.

How To Remove A Bee Stinger

After you have removed the stinger, try to make your dog as comfortable as possible by applying a cold compress to the area. You can make a paste out of baking soda to help soothe the area or you can even apply antihistamine cream to help treat the sting. Don’t leave your dog at home alone if they have been stung. Keep a close eye on him to make sure that he doesn’t have an allergic reaction. If you notice any allergy symptoms then contact your vet for advice.

Dog Bee Sting | Dr. Dan Explains Allergic Reaction In Dogs

Snake Bites

If your dog has been bitten by a snake you may notice other symptoms of dog poisoning along with swelling. These could include bleeding, bruising, puncture wounds, sudden weakness, shallow breathing or collapse. Obviously, you will need to contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms of dog poisoning and if possible, take a description or picture of the snake with you.

Your Vet Online gives a really good breakdown of what you should do if your dog has been bitten by a snake and how your vet would treat him.

Save Your Pets From A Snake Bite | Your Vet Online

6. Collapsing / Seizures

Collapsing, seizures, wobbliness, twitching, muscle spasms and tremors are very strong symptoms of dog poisoning and, even if you think the symptoms are mild, it is still important that you speak to your vet immediately. Some toxins act quickly so if you notice any of these symptoms or if your dog collapses you must act quickly.  

Unfortunately, our homes contain many toxic substances that are dangerous to dogs. And many of these will result in your dog collapsing or having a seizure. Some of these products include:

  • Ethanol
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol (artificial sweeteners)
  • Human medications such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen
  • Pesticides such as rat or snail bait

As with the other symptoms of dog poisoning, it is important that you contact your vet immediately if your dog shows any of these signs or symptoms.

What To Do When Your Dog Is Having A Seizuire

7. Urination Problems

Changes in your dog’s urination can point to many different things such as a bladder infection, diabetes or urinary problems. However, either alone or when coupled with the other symptoms of dog poisoning on this list, it can show that your dog has been in contact with something poisonous especially if the changes in urination are sudden.

If you notice increased or decreased urination in your dog coupled with your dog drinking a lot of water then it is best to get in touch with your vet as sometimes this symptom can point to kidney failure.

8. Bleeding

Bleeding is a common symptom of dogs poisoned by rat bait and other types of chemical poisons. These poisons stop blood from clotting and could lead to death if not treated. Unfortunately, this type of poisoning might not be obvious because the bleeding could be internal (although you may be able to see bleeding from the mouth or nose). However, if you notice any of the other symptoms of dog poisoning such as weakness, fast or difficult breathing, coughing, pale gums vomiting, bloody poop then get him to the vet immediately.

It is important to note that it can take up to a week before any other symptoms of dog poisoning of poisoning appear because of the blood loss. It is therefore very important that you get in contact with your vet if you suspect your dog has eaten some poison, even if you don’t see any symptoms.

Snail & Rat Bait Poisoning in Dogs

Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital gives us a great overview of rat and snail bait poisoning in dogs and how vets would treat it.

9. Irregular Heart Rate

If your dog’s heart is racing, pounding or has become erratic or irregular it could be a symptom of dog poisoning.

10. Burns Or Sores

Burns and sores on the skin or mouth can be caused by caustic substances such as solvents and oxidizers. Certain plants can also be a problem and contact with them could result in skin irritation, sores, hives or burns. If you suspect that your dog has come into contact with any plant or chemical that is poisonous then rinse the area thoroughly with cool water and contact your vet for advice.

11. Changes In Behaviour

You know your dog better than anybody else so you should immediately notice if their behavior changes suddenly. The symptoms of some toxins and poisons unfortunately are only seen a while after your dog has come into contact with them. However, other symptoms might be visible a lot sooner so always take note of things like loss of appetite, lethargy, depression, etc. If you notice any of these changes in behavior it might be worthwhile contacting your vet to make sure your dog is okay.

What is poisonous to dogs?

Unfortunately, our homes often have many foods, chemicals, medicines and other products that can be harmful to our dogs. As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure, so try to make sure that these products are safely out of reach of children and animals.

It is also important to teach your kids about the dangers of some foods that are toxic to dogs such as chocolate, nuts and raisins so that they don’t feed them to your dogs.

1. Human Medications

A couple of common medications which are toxic to dogs include Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve and Tylenol.  Prescription medications, as well as herbal or homeopathic medications, can also be dangerous.

2. Human Foods

There are a number of common foods that are toxic to dogs. These include chocolate, grapes, raisins and nuts as well as alcohol, coffee, xylitol, onions and garlic.

3. Rodenticides & Insecticides

These chemical poisons can be incredibly toxic to our pets and sometimes the poisoning might not be visible immediately.  If at all possible, avoid using these chemicals and poisons in your home or garden.

4. Household & Garden Products

Just like us, dogs can have a bad reaction to many household products and cleaners.  Things like bleach, paint thinners, antifreeze, fertilizers and pool chemicals must be carefully stored and kept away from both human and fur children, alike.

5. Plants

Certain plants such as English Ivy, Cyclamen, Oleander, Sago Palms, Tulips and Azaleas can be toxic to dogs.

11 Symptoms Of Dog Poisoning

What to Do if Your Dog Has Been Poisoned

If your dog is displaying any of the above symptoms of dog poisoning or you suspect your dog has eaten something toxic, please contact your vet immediately! 

Don’t try to induce vomiting or use any at-home remedies without speaking to your vet first.  When you speak to your vet, try to give him as much information as possible including:

  • Medical history.
  • The symptoms your dog is displaying.
  • A list of medications and supplements your dog is taking or if he is on a special diet.
  • His approximate weight.
  • Any details you have on what your dog may have eaten. Keep any labels or product information you have. If possible let the vet know when the toxic product was eaten and how much your dog consumed.

All this information will help your vet make the best treatment decisions for your dog. Remember, the sooner you get professional advice the sooner your dog will be back to his normal happy self!

Disclaimer:   The information contained in this post is in no way intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any illness or condition your pet may have. Please always consult a qualified veterinarian for professional advice if you suspect your dog is sick.

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