Emergency Care for Dog Poisoning

Dog poisoning can occur when your dog ingests toxic, harmful substances. Potential poisons include some types of indoor and outdoor plants, household cleaning products, some foods and pesticides. Here's what you should know about dog poisoning first aid and how to protect your dog from poisoning.

Common Dog Poisons

There are a wide range of substances that can prove toxic to your dog. Indoor and outdoor plants can often be toxic to dogs; common toxic plants include lilies, oleander, yew, amaryllis, autumn crocus, English ivy and peace lily. Common foods toxic to dogs include onions, garlic, avocado, chocolate, coffee, raisins and grapes. Household cleaners and pesticides are also poisonous to dogs.

Symptoms of Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog eats something poisonous, he may display one or more symptoms. Signs that your dog has eaten something toxic include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Labored breathing or changes in respiratory patterns
  • Disorientation, over-sensitivity to light or noise, apparent hallucinations
  • Ataxia, or wobbly gait
  • Muscle tremors or convulsions
  • Alterations in color of the gums and mucous membranes
  • Strange odor on the breath or emanating from the skin
  • Sting or bite marks, in the case of poison by a spider, snake, or other venom producing creature
  • Burns inside the mouth or on the lips, from eating caustic chemicals

What to Do If Your Dog Is Poisoned

If your dog has eaten something poisonous, and especially if he is showing symptoms of having been poisoned, you should seek veterinary care as soon as possible. You can prepare yourself for dog poisoning emergency first aid by preparing a poisoning first aid kit to keep at home.

Your first aid kit should include the following:

  • A turkey baster or large bulb syringe
  • Saline eye solution
  • Hydrogen peroxide, three percent USP
  • Artificial tears
  • Tweezers
  • Mild dish washing liquid, like Dawn
  • A can of wet food
  • A pet carrier
  • A muzzle

These things can help you administer poisoning first aid as well as get your dog to the vet's office or emergency veterinary clinic.

Emergency first aid procedures vary depending on what kind of poison your dog's come in contact with. Toxins that contaminate the skin should be washed away with mild dish washing liquid. Contamination of the eyes requires rinsing with the saline solution, and re-lubrication with the artificial tears.

If your dog eats prescription or illegal drugs, or pesticides like rat poison, induce vomiting by administering the hydrogen peroxide orally with the turkey baster or bulb syringe. Do this only if your dog has just eaten the toxic substance, before it has time to digest. 

If your dog eats a caustic substance, like drain cleaner, don't induce vomiting. The caustic substance may have already burned his mouth and esophagus, and inducing vomiting could do more damage. Wash your dog's mouth and face with water, then give him some milk. Do this within ten minutes of ingestion.

If your dog eats an acidic or petrochemical poison, wash his face and mouth and feed him milk within ten minutes of ingestion. Don't induce vomiting.

Always seek veterinary care after administering first aid.