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Common dog poisons

Some of the things you have around your house may be harmless to you, but they can be fatal to your dog. Make sure you know what substances you should keep away from your dog and what symptoms to look for in case your dog has eaten something poisonous.

Never 'watch and wait'

If you think your dog's been poisoned contact your vet immediately.

Slug and snail pellets

Metaldehyde is a common ingredient of slug and snail baits or pellets. However, not all slug baits contain metaldehyde - it's important to check which type has been ingested.

If Metaldehyde has been ingested

Metaldehyde poisoning is extremely serious and is usually fatal without urgent treatment. Metaldehyde is the most common known cause of dog deaths in cases referred to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS).

Dogs may initially appear unsteady on their feet and twitchy, but may rapidly deteriorate and suffer continuous convulsions and possibly respiratory failure.


Chocolate poisoning is the most commonly reported type of dog poisoning reported to the VPIS. Chocolate contains the stimulant theobromine. Dark chocolate, cocoa mulch and cocoa contain high levels of theobromine.

Symptoms include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • dehydration
  • hyperactivity
  • high temperature and blood pressure
  • abnormal heart rhythm and tremors

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Ibuprofen and naproxen are examples of NSAIDs. Keep all drugs out of the reach of pets

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bleeding from the gut
  • Stomach ulceration
  • Kidney failure

Rodent poisons ('rodenticides')

This refers to anticoagulant rodenticides, such as warfarin, which prevent blood clotting. Not all rodenticides are anticoagulants. It's important to check which one has been ingested.

Poisoning may cause life-threatening bleeding and effects may not appear for several days. Bleeding may be internal and isn't always visible.

Grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants

Any quantity of these can be toxic. Cooking or baking doesn't 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).

Vitamin D

Vitamin D exists in many forms and is found in a variety of products like creams and ointments for psoriasis.

Symptoms can cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bleeding from the gut
  • Convulsions
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Kidney failure

Effects may not appear for several days and may be permanent.

Acknowledgement for this information is made to The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). You can also access more helpful information on their website.

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