What to do if your dog gets into poison

Poison prevention for dogs

If your dog gets into something that may be toxic, calling a poison control center may not be your best first step — unless you have your credit card handy.

Two large poison control centers for pets — the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and the Pet Poison Helpline — charge $65 and $39 per consultation respectively. You may be better off calling your vet immediately.

The word “immediately” is key in situations where your dog may have eaten or gotten into something potentially toxic. Waiting until symptoms appear — vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or seizures — may be too late. It will certainly be more expensive and serious treatment.

Breaking out the hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in your pet also may not be the appropriate response.  And forget the home remedies like giving your dog milk, food, salt or oil. Only your vet can advise you how to deal with the situation. In serious cases, a dog may need fluids and medications given intravenously.

The following tips from the ASPCA can help you get the most effective and fastest diagnosis and treatment when your pet may have been poisoned.

  1. Get the dog away from the substance quickly as possible.
  2. Check your dog to see that it is breathing and acting normally.
  3. Collect samples of the material, along with any packaging or containers and bring it with you to the vet.
  4. Collect a sample of any material your dog may have vomited or chewed.
  5. If you can, try to figure out how much of the material the dog ingested.

Having protective gloves and plastic bags close at hand can be very helpful.

Poison prevention is better than treatment.

It is far, far easier to prevent poisoning than it is to treat it. Poison proofing your kitchen, bathrooms, garage and garden should be done when you get a dog and then double-checked from time to time.

The top 10 poisons that dogs get into are:

  1. Chocolate. The darker it is, the worse it is for the dog. PetMD has a Dog Chocolate Toxicity Meter that lets you put in the dog’s weight, the type of chocolate and how much was consumed. It shows how severe the poisoning may be and lists the possible symptoms.
  2. Rat and mouse poisons.
  3. Vitamins and minerals.
  4. Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen.
  5. Heart medicines.
  6. Cold and allergy medicines like pseudoephedrine.
  7. Anti-depressants such as Prozac.
  8. Xylitol, an artifical sweetner that is found in gums, soft drinks and many other products.
  9. Acetaminophen.
  10. Caffeine pills.

There are many, many more toxic substances that you should be aware of including plants, human foods like avocados and grapes and household products used for cleaning or gardening. If it’s in your home, read the warnings and store it where a dog can’t get into it.

It’s important to know the symptoms of poisoning.  You may not always see your dog getting into something. Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abnormal breathing, drooling, collapse, a racing heart, excessive thirst and urination (or the lack of either) are all potential signs of poisoning.