How Can I Tell If My Dog Ate Something Poisonous Or Toxic?

Dogs are usually happy to chow down almost anything that smells tasty without worrying whether it's safe or toxic to eat. Unfortunately, some of the plants and many of the hundreds of different chemicals we fill our homes with are both enticing and poisonous to dogs.

The items in your medicine cabinet and the cleaning products in your cupboard can both be extremely harmful to your dog's health. Most cleaning supplies are toxic to dogs, but often their danger is cloaked under an inviting scent. Household products harmful to your dog include soaps, detergents, kerosene, paints, paint thinners, alcoholic beverages and all drugs and medications, especially aspirin and acetaminophen.

Some "people foods" can be harmful to your dog. Some are downright dangerous to him, while other foods are best avoided because they can lead to obesity and a variety of health problems. Foods toxic to your dog include chocolate and onions. Never give him either food, and if he accidentally ingests a lot of either, take him to your vet immediately. Always keep garbage cans securely sealed to prevent your dog from getting into discarded food, which can contain bacteria that causes food poisoning in dogs.

Hazardous substances also lurk outdoors. One of the most common agents of poisoning in dogs is antifreeze, which has a sweet taste from ethylene glycol, and is so potent that just 6 milliliters of it -- a fingertip's worth -- can kill a dog. Even tiny, undetectable amounts of antifreeze can cause kidney damage.

Don't forget to dog-proof the garage or shed for any chemical products you store there. Make sure the lids of all chemical products are tightly closed. Put gasoline and turpentine in a locked cabinet or a storeroom. Slug bait, for some reason, is almost irresistible to dogs. They will sniff out the bait and gobble it up with disastrous results. Rodent poison is also highly toxic to your dog, as are pesticides and weed-killers sprayed on the lawn.

Certain animals if eaten can also be toxic to your dog, including salamanders, toads and poisoned rodents.

Signs Of A Poisoned Dog

  • Extreme thirst
  • Excessive salivation
  • Disorientation
  • Clumsiness or troubled or painful movement
  • Eating problems (not eating, diarrhea or vomiting)
  • Excessive panting
  • Convulsions or seizures

If your dog shows any signs of these symptoms, the first thing you must do is find out what substance is responsible. If it's a household product, read the label for the list of ingredients and for any instructions on accidental ingestion. Immediately call your vet, nearest animal-emergency clinic or the National Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 4-Ani-Help (264-4357). The hotline, which charges a fee for assistance, is staffed 24-hours a day by a veterinarian.