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Poisoning in dogs

Dogs can be poisoned by some common household items that are harmless to humans. You can reduce this risk by keeping harmful substances out of reach of your dog and keeping them away from areas they have access to.

What to do if you think your dog's been poisoned

  1. Stay calm and move your dog away from the source of poison.
  2. Contact your vet immediately - inform them when, where and how the poisoning happened. If possible, take the packaging, plant or substance to the vet, but only if you can do this safely.
  3. Follow your vet's advice - they'll tell you what the situation is depending on the poison and how much of it your dog has had.

Never 'watch and wait'

If you suspect your pet's been poisoned, contact a vet immediately.

How to help your dog while waiting for the vet

While you're waiting for the vet:

  • Don't attempt to treat or medicate dogs yourself. Some medicines for humans and other animals may be poisonous to dogs.
  • Never attempt to make dogs vomit. Don't use salt water as it's extremely dangerous.
  • If the skin or fur is contaminated, wash with a mild shampoo and water, then rinse well and dry.
  • Keep dogs away from other animals to avoid cross-contamination.

Common poisons

Learn about the most common dog poisons and their symptoms.

Other poisons include drugs such as Paracetamol and oral contraceptives, blue-green algae, fungi, conkers, acorns, rock salt and xylitol (an artificial sweetener).

The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is a 24-hour emergency service providing information and advice to vets and animal welfare organisations on the treatment of animals exposed to toxins. 

For more information about harmful substances, speak to your vet.

Keeping your dogs safe from poisoning 

Follow our tips to keep your dog safe from poisons.

In your home

  • Keep an eye on your dog
  • Keep houseplants out of dogs' reach, and collect dropped leaves and petals
  • Keep pesticides (e.g. rat baits) away from areas dogs can access
  • If treating pets with insecticides, separate them from other pets


  • Ensure housing and exercise areas are free from (and not overhung by) poisonous plants
  • Ensure dogs' water supplies can't become contaminated and change them regularly.
Acknowledgment for this information is made to VPIS.

Seasonal canine illness potentially caused by poisoning

A number of mystery dog illnesses have been reported in late autumn. Symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhoea, shaking, trembling and high temperatures, and have generally been displayed within 24 hours of walking in the countryside, especially woodland. The cause of this is unknown.

Alabama rot

Alabama Rot is a disease that affects dogs more commonly in cold weather:

Find out more about Alabama rot.

Acorn poisoning

Common autumn-season poisons include acorns:

Find out more about prevention, symptoms and treatment

Find out more