Find out more about the most common, potentially serious, poisons that can affect dogs and learn what symptoms to look out for and what treatment is likely to be required.
Chocolate poisoning in dogs is the type of poisoning most commonly reported to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service. Chocolate contains a powerful stimulant called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Dark chocolate, cocoa mulch and cocoa contain high levels of theobromine.
Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, hyperactivity, high temperature and blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm and tremors.
Take your dog to the vet if you suspect it has been exposed to this poison. Some dogs may require rehydration and other veterinary treatment.
Never give chocolate to your pet as a treat.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
This group of drugs includes ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen , which are widely available.
Poisoning can result in vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gut, severe stomach ulceration and kidney failure.
Take your dog to the vet if you suspect it has been exposed to this poison. Most dogs will require treatment with anti-ulcer therapy for at least a fortnight.
 Also aceclofenac, acemetacin, azapropazone, celecoxib, dexibuprofen, dexketaprofen, etodolac, etoricoxib, fenbufen, indometacin, ketoprofen, mefenamic acid, meloxicam, nabumetone, piroxicam, sulindac, tenoxicam and tiaprofenic acid.
Rodent Poisons (‘rodenticides’)
The following specifically refers to anticoagulant rodenticides , for example bromadiolone, difenacoum and warfarin . Anticoagulants act by preventing blood clotting.
These products are commonly used to control rodent infestations. The baits are usually coloured blue or green (sometimes purple or red) and can be sold in the form of a powder, paste, seeds or grains.
Repeated consumption of these products is a particular problem; dogs living in rural or farmland environments may be at particular risk.
Poisoning may result in life-threatening bleeding; effects may not appear for several days. Bleeding may be internal and therefore is not always visible.
Take your dog to the vet if you suspect it has been exposed to this poison. Some dogs will require a course of the antidote. Blood tests may confirm poisoning.
 Not all rodenticides are anticoagulants; it is important to check which one your pet has ingested.
 Also brodifacoum, chlorphacinone, coumatetralyl, diphacinone and flocoumafen.
Metaldehyde  is a common active ingredient of slug/snail baits or pellets.
Metaldehyde poisoning is extremely serious and is usually fatal without urgent treatment by a vet. Metaldehyde is the most common known cause of dog deaths in cases referred to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service.
Dogs may initially appear unsteady on their feet and twitchy, but may rapidly deteriorate and suffer continuous convulsions and possibly respiratory failure.
Take your dog to the vet urgently if you suspect it has been exposed to this poison. Prolonged hospitalisation is often required.
 Not all slug baits contain metaldehyde; it is important to check which type of poison your pet has ingested.
Grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants (Vitis Vinifera)
Any quantity of these fruits can be toxic to dogs. Cooking or baking them (e.g. in cakes) does not reduce the risk of poisoning.
Poisoning may initially result in vomiting and diarrhoea and subsequently in kidney failure (which may occur a few days after the initial effects).
Take your dog to the vet urgently if you suspect it has been exposed to this poison. Hospitalisation for at least three days is usually required.
Vitamin D exists in many forms , which may be found in a variety of products .
Poisoning can result in vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gut, convulsions, abnormal heart rhythm and kidney failure. Effects of the poisoning may be delayed for several days. There may be permanent effects.
Take your dog to the vet urgently if you suspect it has been exposed to this poison. Treatment may be difficult and prolonged hospitalisation may be required.
 Common names include alfacalcidol, calciferol, calcipotriol, calcitriol, cholecalciferol, ergocalciferol, paricalcitol and tacalcitol.
 Creams / ointments for psoriasis and oral vitamin D supplements contain high concentrations of vitamin D and are a particular problem.
If you think your dog has been poisoned, contact your vet immediately.
You can also read our top tips for more information on what to do if you think your dog has been poisoned: Poisoning in dogs.
Acknowledgement for this information is made to The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). Some helpful information is available on their website www.vpisuk.co.uk.