Due to dogs scavenging, they tend to eat random items that could potentially be harmful. We need to be aware of the risks of poisonous substances, how to notice them and what to do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned.
How can a dog become poisoned?
Dogs may be poisoned by the following:
- Eating the poison
- Absorbing a poisonous substance via the skin, usually from their pads on their feet
- Ingestion by grooming the substance off their coat
- Inhalation of the poisonous substance
Noticing the signs of poisoning:
The clinical signs your dog may display are variable and will depend on the type of poison. Some toxins may act on one body system and therefore could produce any combination of signs
Many toxic substances will produce gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and diarrhoea), in more severe cases, neurological signs (seizures, incoordination, tremors, excitability, depression or coma). Respiratory disorders can also occur (difficulty breathing, coughing or sneezing). They may display skin problems such as inflammation. The liver and kidneys can also be affected by the toxin causing signs such as increased drinking, in appetence and weight loss.
What should I do if I suspect my dog has been poisoned?
- Firstly remove your dog from the suspected source of poison and remove from other animals
- If the poison is on the coat or paws, try to prevent your dog from grooming
- Contact us immediately on our emergency 01482 223688
- Note the time you noticed the poisoning had occurred and if possible bring the suspected poisonous substance to the vets
- You must not try to make your dog vomit, unless you are instructed to do so by the Veterinary Surgeon
- If the skin or coat is contaminated wash thoroughly with a mild shampoo and warm water. Keep your dog warm by drying with a towel and wrap in a towel for the journey to the vets
Types of Poisons
It is important to know the types of poisonous substances and it is advisable to deter from keeping any in the household and garden. However, when walking your dog it is quite easy for their findings to go un-noticed.
Try to discourage your dog from scavenging on walks. If their behaviour changes after eating any material on the walks and you are concerned it may have been poisonous, contact us immediately.
In the Kitchen:
Chocolate: Chocolate is the most common poison reported to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). Contained in chocolate is theobromine, a stimulant. The darker the cocoa the more theobromine contained. Side effects include agitation, hyper excitability, tremors, convulsions, and heart disturbances.
Grapes, Raisins, Sultanas and Currants: Any quantity can be toxic, baking them does not make them any less poisonous. These cause kidney failure in dogs. Beware particularly at Christmas with Christmas cake or Christmas pudding.
Avocado: Avocados contain Persin that can act as a dog poison causing vomiting and diarrhoea.
Macadamia nuts: Symptoms include weakness and vomiting.
Xylitol: A sweetener found in candy or sugar-free chewing gum. Symptoms are a rapid drop in blood sugar causing weakness, seizures, in some cases liver failure.
Garlic, Onions, Leeks and Chives: These are members of the Allium family and poisoning results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells (causing the red bloods cells to rupture) and gastro-enteritis (inflammation of the stomach). Symptoms include anaemia, lethargy, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, collapse, weakness, nausea, drooling, abdominal pain, irritation of the mouth, vomiting and diarrhoea. These symptoms can have a delayed onset.
Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, Almond Nuts, Apple Seeds: Contains cyanogenic glycosides which can impede the ability of blood to release oxygen to the tissues. This can cause suffocation. Symptoms include dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, bright red gums, shock and death.
Bread dough (uncooked): When ingested the unbaked bread dough expands in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloated stomach, this can progress to a gastric-dilatation volvulus (GDV), which is a twisted stomach. Signs include vomiting, non-productive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse and death. When the unbaked dough is fermenting it produces carbon dioxide causing bloat and alcohol poisoning due to the yeast content.
Caffeine: Symptoms include hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate, high temperature, tremors, seizures, collapse and death.
Salt: Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, inappetance, lethargy, tremors, seizures, coma and death
In the Garden or on Walks:
Slug/Snail Pellets (Mulluscicides): Such as metaldehyde. Metaldehyde poisoning is usually fatal without urgent treatment.
Molluscicides (Slug and snail pellets): Such as metaldehyde and methiocarb. The main sign of metaldehyde poisoning is convulsions, which could last many hours.
Rodenticides (Rat and mouse killers): Such as brodifacoum, difenacoum, chlorphacione and coumatetralyl. Some Rodenticides are anti-coagulants (prevent blood clotting). Poisoning with rodenticides could cause life threatening bleeding; these effects may take several days to appear.
Mushrooms: Only a small percentage of mushrooms are toxic, however, as it is usually difficult to identify the mushroom species, avoid ingestion of all mushrooms. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, hallucination, tremors, seizures, liver and or kidney failure, abdominal pain, walking drunk and depression.
Tulips and Daffodils: Symptoms include convulsions, increased heart rate and severe stomach problems.
Azaleas and Rhododendrons: Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, coma and death.
Sago Palms: Symptoms include vomiting, seizures and liver failure.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS): Such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Diclofenac etc. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gut, stomach ulceration and kidney failure.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D exists in creams or ointments such as for psoriasis. Poisoning can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, bleeding from the gut, convulsions, kidney failure and abnormal heart rhythm.
Alcohol: Similar symptoms to humans such as vomiting, breathing difficulties, coma, death.
If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, contact us immediately on our emergency number: 01482 223688.