For specific information on poisons found in your home, please
click on the links below.
What is a poison?
A poison is a substance, which when introduced to an organism,
is capable of producing an unwanted effect.
When we talk about poisons many people automatically think of
dangerous chemicals such as cyanide or strychnine, but forget about
substances that are more commonplace, such as plant leaves that
cause skin irritation, or smoke from a cigarette. Many people are
unaware of the poisons around their home or the risk that these can
pose to their pets.
What substances could be harmful?
Poisonous materials commonly found around your home could
include: pharmaceutical products (both medications for humans and
their pets), pesticides (ant baits, rodenticides, herbicides or
slug baits), plants, venomous animals in your garden and household
cleaners, to name a few.
How can a dog come into contact with a poison?
Dogs can be exposed to poisonous substances in a number of
different ways, such as through skin contact, substances in the
eye, inhalation, or envenomation (through a bite or sting).
However, the most common way for them to be poisoned is to ingest,
or eat, a poison.
How to use this information
The information is intended to be used to prevent poisoning by
raising awareness of certain poisons, rather than as a document to
be used in an emergency. If you suspect that your dog has been
poisoned, or has come into contact with potentially poisonous
substances, contact your local veterinary practice immediately.
The lists of poisons in this information guide are not
exhaustive. If an item is not mentioned in this guide it should not
be assumed that it is not poisonous. Further advice on substances
that could harm your dog could be sought from your local veterinary
What to do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned
If you think that your dog may have eaten, touched or inhaled
something that it shouldn't have, consult your local veterinary
Do not try to make your dog sick. Trying to do this can cause
other complications, which may harm your dog.
In an emergency you can help your veterinary practice make an
informed decision as to whether your dog needs to be treated by
them, and if so, what the best treatment would be. Where possible
you should provide your veterinary practice with information
- What poison you think your dog has been exposed to (i.e.
chocolate, ibuprofen, etc.). Include any product names, or lists of
ingredients if relevant
- How much they may have been exposed to (i.e. 500mg, 500ml, one
tablet etc, even approximations may help)
- When your dog was exposed to the poison (i.e. 5 minutes, 5
hours or 5 days ago)
- If your dog has been unwell, and if so, what clinical effects
have been seen
It is easier for a veterinarian to care for a poisoned dog if it
is treated sooner rather than later. If you are in any doubt, do
not wait for your dog to become unwell before calling for
If you do need to take your dog to your veterinary practice,
make sure that you take along any relevant packaging, or a sample
of the poison, i.e. parts of plant or fungi. Always make sure that
you yourself are protected and can not be poisoned in turn.