Dog Poisoning: Be Aware of Everyday Dangers

While items like antifreeze and rat poison are the main causes for dog poisoning, your home harbors other common items that prove toxic to dogs. It's important to recognize these items and ensure they stay out of harm's reach.


Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which a dog's body is not meant to digest. Just 4.5 ounces of chocolate causes toxicity in a small dog.

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Spasms
  • Seizures

If your dog ends up ingesting chocolate, use activated charcoal or medications to induce vomiting which can save your dog's life.


Fertilizers containing calcium cyanamide (lime nitrogen) cause breathing difficulties, increased pulse, and blood pressure changes when ingested.

Weed Killers

Weed killers do not link directly to dog poisoning, but higher rates of cancer have been discovered. The ingredient dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, used in many commercial weed killers, is linked to malignant lymphoma in dogs. If you do treat your lawn with a weed killer containing this ingredient, keep your pet off that area of the lawn for 24 hours.


Organophosphate, a common insecticide, will poison a dog. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive drool
  • Lethargy
  • Twitching
  • Vomiting

If a dog ingests organophosphate, activated charcoal helps neutralize the poison.

Rodent Killers

If possible, avoid using these poisons inside and outside the home. Watch for diarrhea and vomiting. Humane Have-a-Hart trap safely trap pesky rodents without any toxic materials.

Home Improvement Supplies

Paints, thinners and items like insulation foam provide a high risk of dog poisoning. While most paints no longer contain lead, they still do contain poisons that irritate a dog's eyes, lungs and stomach. Pneumonia is problem in some dogs exposed to paint fumes. Keep containers tightly covered. While painting or weatherproofing your home, keep your pet in separate room or fenced area.

Human Medications

Many human medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, top the list when it comes to dog poisoning. Keep lids on and store them out of reach. Medications like Advil and Tylenol cause kidney problems, so never offer them to your dog.

Cold medications cause increased heart rate, seizures and sometimes cardiac arrest. Any dog that ingests human cold medicines must have its stomach pumped and be monitored. Asthma medications also contain poisons dogs should not ingest. Symptoms of dog poisoning include dilated pupils, hemorrhaging in the stomach and intestines, vomiting and nausea. Veterinarians may use diazepam to relax the dog and then introduce extra fluids via an IV.

Pet Medications

Heartworm medications appeal to dogs because many are beef flavored. Keep all medications out of your pet's reach to prevent overdoses.

Indoor and Outdoor Plants

One of the leading dog poisoning problems are plants found in your home and garden. Avoid planting the plants where your dog has access.

  • Chokecherries
  • Daffodils
  • Day lilies
  • Delphinium
  • Easter lilies
  • Elderberries
  • English Ivy
  • Foxglove
  • Grapes
  • Holly
  • Hyacinth
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Morning glories
  • Mustard
  • Narcissus
  • Potato
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb
  • Wild Mushrooms

Many dogs avoid eating these plants anyway, but puppies tend to be more adventurous and chew anything they can. Keep a close eye on puppies both indoors and out.

Household Cleaners

rritation of a dog's nasal cavity and airways occurs frequently with cleaning products. Most dogs know enough not to ingest the cleaners. Always keep cleaners stored out of reach and avoid washing pet bowls in heavy-duty cleaning products. Rinse bowls extremely well after washing.