Common canine poisons

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 practice.

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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