General poisons


The following items are poisons that can be found anywhere around your home.


If a battery is chewed and punctured by your dog it can cause chemical burns, or even heavy metal poisoning in very rare and extreme cases. If swallowed whole, they are less likely to leak their contents, but can still cause a blockage. This can be very dangerous and may require surgical intervention. Signs of an obstruction may include vomiting, lethargy, being off their food, not defecating or finding it difficult to defecate. Small button batteries that become stuck in the throat, or in the gut, can produce an electric current which can significantly damage the surrounding tissue.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas with no colour, taste or smell and can be produced from house fires, faulty boilers, faulty heaters or heaters used in poorly ventilated spaces.

If inhaled in large enough concentrations it can cause a range of non-specific clinical effects, including the dog appearing sleepy, vomiting or showing changes in behaviour, breathing and heart rate. Carbon monoxide is highly poisonous to both humans and animals and you should consider fitting a carbon monoxide detector in your home.


Potpourri is made up of a number of dried plants and flowers. These fragrant decorations may cause, at the very least, vomiting and diarrhoea. How toxic your potpourri is will depend on which dried plants have been used.

Identifying which plants are in your potpourri is often very difficult, especially as the dried plant matter are often artificially coloured. Potpourri often includes hard items, like pine cones or bark, and these could become stuck in your dog's throat and cause breathing difficulties, or an obstruction in their gut. This can be very dangerous and may require surgical intervention.

Cigarettes and other nicotine containing products (cigars, nicotine gums, patches and e-cigarettes)

If eaten, these products can all cause vomiting, increased salivation, tremor and may also interfere with the dog's heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Swallowed nicotine patches may cause prolonged effects, while swallowed e-cigarette refill bottles or vials may cause sudden toxicity after being in the gut for a while.

Some nicotine gums may contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs and can cause a very quick and potentially serious drop in blood sugar. In some instances it can also cause liver failure.

Glow sticks

If eaten, luminous necklaces, bracelets and glow sticks can make dogs unwell.  The glowing liquid inside the tubing is an irritant and can cause your dog to develop salivation, frothing at the mouth, vomiting and tummy pain.  Strangely enough, these items are particularly attractive to cats, so make sure to keep them away from any feline friends as well.

Silica gel sachets (desiccant)

These small sachets are commonly found in the packaging of items such as new shoes, electrical items, handbags etc.  Silica gel is non-toxic, but the sachet is often labelled "Do not eat", not because it is poisonous, but because it is not a food item and therefore should not be eaten.  Although silica gel sachets are non-toxic, they could still cause a dangerous obstruction in the gut.

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 practice.

Who can I contact for further advice?

The Kennel Club is not a veterinary organisation and is unable to provide general or case specific veterinary advice.  If you have any questions regarding any of the issues discussed in this article then please contact your local veterinary practice for further information.

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 practice immediately.

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 on:

  • 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 advice.

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.

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Info Guide - Poisons

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