It is every responsible owner’s nightmare for their pet to be poisoned. Make sure you’re prepared for such an emergency.
Read our top tips on what to do if you think your dog has been poisoned and how to prevent poisonings. You can also check out our information on some of the most common poisons that dog owners should be aware of.
Under the Animal Welfare Act all pet owners have a legal duty to provide for their pets’ needs, including the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Preventing your dog from coming into contact with poisonous substances and treating any accidental poisonings quickly and appropriately is an important part of responsible pet ownership.
What to do if you think your dog has been poisoned:
- Stay calm. Remove your dog(s) from the source of poison.
- Contact your vet for advice immediately; inform them when, where and how the poisoning occurred. If appropriate, carefully take the packaging, plant or substance with you to the vet. Be careful not to expose yourself to any harm.
- Follow your vet’s advice. If you are advised to take your dog(s) to the vet, do so quickly and calmly.
Never attempt to treat or medicate your dog(s) yourself. Some medicines for humans and other animals may be poisonous to your dog.
Never attempt to make your dog vomit. Do not use salt water as this is extremely dangerous.
If the skin or fur is contaminated, wash thoroughly with mild shampoo and water, rinse well and dry.
Keep your dog(s) away from any other animals to avoid cross contamination.
Never ‘watch and wait’ in any case of suspected poisoning. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, act fast and contact a vet for advice immediately.
Preventing poisoning in dogs:
In the home:
- Keep houseplants in containers placed where your dog(s) cannot reach them. Collect up any dropped leaves or petals.
- Keep pesticides, such as rat baits, away from the areas your dog(s) have access to.
- If treating your pets with insecticides at home, remember to separate them from other pets to avoid cross-contamination.
- Watch your dog(s) closely when they are running free indoors.
- Ensure housing and exercise areas are free from, and not overhung by, poisonous plants.
- Ensure your dog’s/dogs’ water supply cannot become contaminated, and change it regularly.
Common dog poisons:
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is a specialist 24-hour emergency service which provides information and advice to veterinary professionals and animal welfare organisations on the treatment of animals exposed to toxic substances.
Some of the most common, potentially severe dog poisons reported to the VPIS are:
- Theobromine – a powerful stimulant found in chocolate
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAIDs), such as Ibruprofen & Diclofenac
- Rodent poisons (called ‘rodenticides’), such as Bromadiolone and Difenacoum
- Metaldehyde, a common active ingredient of slug and snail baits or pellets
Read more about these common dog poisons, their symptoms and treatment in our most common poisons dog webpage.
The list above is not exhaustive and other cases of poisoning in dogs reported to the VPIS have included human drugs such as Paracetamol and oral contraceptives, blue-green algae, fungi, conkers, acorns, rock salt (see factsheet above) and xylitol (an artificial sweetner found in sweets, sugar-free chewing gum, some medicines and as a sugar substitute in baking). For more information about what substances are harmful to your dog speak to your vet.
Seasonal Canine Illness
A number of mystery illnesses have been reported in dogs in late autumn over the last few years. Symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhoea, shaking, trembling and high temperatures, and have generally been displayed by animals within 24 hours of walking in the countryside, especially in woodlands. The cause of this illness is currently unknown. Dog owners who have walked their dogs in the affected areas are being asked to complete a questionnaire to help gather information. Further information & advice for dog owners
Acknowledgement for this information is made to The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). The VPIS is a specialist 24-hour emergency service, which is only available to veterinary professionals and animal welfare organisations, providing information and advice on the treatment of animals exposed to toxic substances. It is not a public access service. Helpful information is available on their website www.vpisuk.co.uk.