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Tips for Preventing Dog Poisoning

Dogs can easily be poisoned by ingesting any of a number of toxic chemicals in your home. Chemical poisoning most commonly occurs when dogs:

  • Drink a tainted substance
  • Clean a toxic substance from their fur
  • Eat a poisoned pest
  • Eat a toxic substance

Most of our homes contain dozens of chemicals, many of which could cause a violent reaction in your dog.

Tip: As a general rule of thumb, any substance you would keep away from a child should also be kept away from your dog.

The following are examples of some of the most common offenders:

The Worst Offenders: Petroleum products, acids, and alkalis (caustics)

Caustic chemicals are the most dangerous substances to your dog. Caustic chemicals burn your dog's mouth and throat. Do NOT induce vomiting, which can cause even further damage

Most Dangerous Caustic Chemicals Symptoms of Poisoning from Caustic Chemicals
Most Dangerous Caustic Chemicals
  • Kerosene
  • Gasoline
  • Lighter fluid
  • Drain cleaner
  • Lime
  • Floor, shoe and furniture polish
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Paint thinner
  • Paint remover
  • Wax
  • Oven cleaner
  • Wood preservatives (creosote)
  • Dishwasher soap
  • Lye
  • Battery acid
  • Phenol based substances (disinfectants, fungicides, photographic developers)
  • Solvents
  • Chlorine Bleach
  • Etching solutions
  • Ammonia
Symptoms of Poisoning from Caustic Chemicals
  • Ulcerated or inflamed tongue
  • Grayish yellow burns on lips, mouth or tongue
  • Bloody vomit
  • Shock
  • Abdominal pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad smell emanating from mouth because of dying tissue
  • Excessive salivation
Other Common Toxic Chemicals Symptoms of Poisoning from These Chemicals
Other Common Toxic Chemicals
  • Bleach
  • Detergents
  • Dyes
  • Pesticides
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Herbicides
  • Phosphorus (non safety kitchen matches)
  • Glues
  • Acetone
  • Naphthalene (mothballs)
  • Boric Acid (shaving lotion)
  • Carbon tetrachloride (fire extinguisher, liquid)
  • Borax compound (fire extinguisher, powder)
  • Deodorants
  • Fabric softener
  • Pine oil
Symptoms of Poisoning from These Chemicals
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Drooling
  • Trembling limbs and trouble walking
  • Convulsions
  • Yelping
  • Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression

What To Do If You Suspect Your Dog Has Been Poisoned:

First, try to determine what substance is responsible. Read the product's label for the list of ingredients and for any instructions on accidental ingestion. Immediately call your vet, the nearest animal-emergency clinic, or the National Animal Poison Control Center at (888)4-Ani-Help (264-4357).

Observe your dog's symptoms carefully. If he's vomiting or has diarrhea, you may want to take samples to the vet to help with diagnosis. The treatment will vary according to the poison, and whether it has been ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Be prepared by having a good dog emergency handbook, the number to the National Animal Control Center and the number to your nearest vet emergency clinic on hand. Plus, stock your medicine cabinet or pantry with these items:

  • Liquid antacid
  • Vegetable oil (to coat the intestines or remove substances on fur)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting, if indicated)
  • Diluted vinegar or lemon juice (to help neutralize an alkali)

Also know how much your dog weighs, as treatments are often measured out in proportion to the animal's weight.

Safeguarding Your Pet from Chemical Poisoning

  1. Remove any harmful products from cupboards, closets or storage areas. Alternatively, lock products in cabinets or behind child-proof locks.
  2. Read the labels on all cleaners and household products. If you wouldn’t want a child to play with it, keep it away from your dog.

Indoors:

When cleaning, especially in your bathroom, close the door if you must leave any cleaners standing in your sink or toilet. Otherwise, your pet may drink it, or he may walk in cleaners spilled on the floor. Your pet might lick foreign substances from his paws, thus ingesting the toxic chemicals.

When painting or varnishing, or spraying herbicides or insecticides, keep your dog out of the area for at least 24 hours or until long after the substance dries. Dogs are very susceptible to fumes, and can even absorb some toxins through the skin.

Outdoors:

Dog-proof your garage or shed for any chemical products you might have stored. Make sure the lids of all chemical products are tightly closed. Dogs are not careful of the objects they brush up against and the areas they walk into. Chemical dog poisoning usually happens if a dog drinks a tainted substance (water on top of a paint can, for example.) Put gasoline, kerosene and turpentine in a locked cabinet or storeroom. Stash antifreeze out of reach; with a sweet taste from ethylene glycol, it's one of the most common agents of animal poisoning. Clean any leaking fluid from the garage floor or driveway.

Make sure you also dog-proof your garden. Snail bait and other ground chemicals can be deadly to dogs. Rodent poison (and poisoned rodents) is another potential source of trouble. And watch what you spray on your plants; your dog can become very sick from nibbling on a leaf sprayed with pesticides. Check your local nursery for harmless, organic alternatives.