There are many substances that can be
poisonous to our dogs, some you might expect and others you may not.
Here is a selection of substances that, as dog owners and lovers, we
need to be aware of.
ANTIFREEZE (Ethylene Glycol)
This maybe an obvious one but our vets see many cases of poisoning
from this one. It has a sweet taste and can be easily licked up by
our inquisitive canines. It will cause extreme vomiting and is
quickly fatal, causing damage to the kidneys.
Clinical signs include depression, restlessness, loss of
co-ordination or clumsiness, convulsions and coma.
HOUSEPLANTS and OTHER PLANTS
Many houseplants can be toxic. Some of the more common poisonous
ones include; Amaryllis, Bleeding heart, caster oil plant (which is
very toxic) Dumb Cane (another very dangerous one) any bulbs,
Foxglove, Lily of the Valley, Stinging Nettles, Mushrooms, Rhubarb,
the bark from any of the following is also very dangerous, Hemlock,
Privet, Rhododendron, Wisteria. Horse Chestnut, Ivy, Yew. The list
is quite exhaustive; it is safer to not allow your dog to chew on
any leaves or wood when out and about on walks.
Signs of poisoning include; omitting drowsiness, diarrhea,
Trembling, abdominal pain, weakness, breathing difficulties and
heart failure. Veterinary opinion should always be sought.
Bee and Wasp stings can produce an anaphylactic reaction as in
humans. Immediate veterinary attention is required as this condition
can rapidly lead to death. If the tongue or mouth is stung
veterinary attention will be required to reduce any ensuing swelling
that may block the airway. If the sting can be found it is useful to
try to remove it with tweezers. Common sting sties are the face,
mouth and paws as the dog tries to catch the insect. Bee stings
should be bathed with a solution of Bicarbonate of Soda, Wasp stings
will benefit from Vinegar. A close eye must be kept on the dog for
any signs of swelling, in some cases the dog will come up in hives
and have a general ‘itchiness’ the vet will be able to administer a
steroid for help with this.
Symptoms to watch out for include; vomiting, diarrhea swelling,
breathing difficulties, and worse case scenario, collapse.
Berries that are commonly found in the garden may be poisonous to
the dog. Plants are always attractive to dogs, especially puppies.
Mistletoe, Holly, and Laburnum are toxic. Bulbs like Daffodils and
snowdrops are also toxic, dogs that enjoy the odd bit of gardening
and digging may eat them once found, also be aware when storing
bulbs and tubers.
Oleander is “everywhere” down here, and according to the humane
society is highly toxic with only about twenty minutes to act if
CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
This gas can be emitted from car exhausts, or old, gas fires, which
have not been serviced for a long time. This too of course affects
Signs to look for include; Weakness, lethargy, breathing
difficulties, a blue tinge to the gums or tongue, and collapse.
All forms of chocolate are toxic to dogs, hot chocolate, chocolate
cakes, biscuits, and cocoa. The toxin in chocolate is Theo bromine.
Theo bromine is found in the cocoa bean, the amount of Theo bromine
is dependant on the type of chocolate, dark chocolate is richer and
contains more than milk, or white.
It may harm the heart, kidneys and the central nervous system, and
the effect is serious. Signs of Theo bromine poisoning include;
nausea and vomiting, restlessness, hyperactivity, diarrhea, muscle
tremors, lethargy, depression, increase in urination or
incontinence, finally if left untreated death may occur.
CIGARS AND CIGARETTES
Nicotine in Cigars and cigarettes is toxic to a dog. It is also
possible for a dog to become addicted to nicotine. Clinical signs of
nicotine poisoning include; drooling, vomiting, possibly abdominal
pain, twitching, and or muscle weakness.
Many household cleaners including bleach, cleaners and washing
powders etc can cause serious injury to dogs through ingestion. The
caustics will cause damage to the mucous membranes, and destroy
tissues on contact. Then they will be absorbed into the blood
Depending upon the substance-ingested injury can be as mild as
slight irritation, to severe burns. The areas should be rinsed with
copious amounts of water and in all instances veterinary advice
should be taken without delay.
Potatoes, green skins and green sprouts in potatoes (which have also
poisoned humans) contain solanum alkaloids, which are toxic. Mashed,
cooked potato is fine. Take care with bags of potatoes that may be
in the kitchen or garages.
Tea, coffee and cola drinks. These may also contain Theobromine –
Flea products when used in accordance with the manufacturer’s
instruction should not cause a problem though in some cases
sensitivity can occur.
Flea collars and products containing organophosphates will affect
the dogs nervous system, poisoning easily occurs when a dog eats a
Signs include: vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, convulsions,
and or depression. If any of the signs occur contact your veterinary
surgeon for advice. It might be useful to bathe the dog to help
remove the product from the skin.
Raw liver in large quantities can cause vitamin A toxicity in dogs.
Vitamin A is not soluble so it is stored in the body and can build
up. Signs of vitamin A over dosage include poor growth, impaired
reproduction and sight problems.
ONIONS AND GARLIC
Onions especially raw contain sulphur, which can damage red blood
cells, which can lead to anemia. Garlic is less toxic and beneficial
in some cases especially as an antiseptic, and insect repellent, the
safest way to administer garlic is in the form of pearls available
from chemists and health food shops. It is prudent to check safe
amounts with your vet.
Too much raw fish can cause a deficiency of the vitamin Thiamine
that is one of the B vitamin group. Symptoms of Thiamine deficiency
includes anorexia (serious loss of appetite), abnormal posture,
weakness, seizures, and death, this is dangerous to cats as well as
Raw Salmon is dangerous as Salmon eat snails that carry bacteria
harmful to dogs when ingested, the flukes are found in any part of
the salmon, but especially the head and gut of the fish. Just coming
into contact with Salmon blood can harm your dog. Diagnosis is
difficult due to the fact that it mimics other canine diseases like
Parvovirus, though once diagnosed it is easily treated with
Pear pips, plum kernels, peaches, apricots and apple pips contain
cyanide and in large quantities are toxic. Grapes, raisins, sultanas
and golden raisins are extremely poisonous – they can cause kidney
failure. The actual poison is unknown.
Recently it is thought that turkey skin can contribute towards acute
Human or animal medicines. The commonest are Aspirin, and
Paracetamol. Keep all medicines out of the reach of your dog as you
would a child.
Contact your vet immediately should you suspect an accidental
overdose or dose of any medicines.
Cocoa bean shells, are a by-product of chocolate production and are
sold as mulch for landscaping. Homeowners like cocoa mulch because
it degrades into an organic fertilizer and gives an attractive color
and odor. Unprocessed beans, taken from the Theobroma cacao plant,
contain 1-4% theobromine/0.07-0.36% caffeine whereas, cocoa bean
mulch contains 0.19%-2.98% theobromine. Some dogs find the mulch
attractive and eat small to large quantities.
Dogs consuming cocoa bean mulch may develop methylxanthine toxicosis
which may induce - Seizure - Tremor - Bradycardia (slow heart beat)
- Tachyarrhythmia (fast, irregular heart beat)
In all cases of accidental poisoning, keep calm and reassure your
dog. Your vet might advise you to induce vomiting, never induce
vomiting without checking with your vet first, some poisons will
cause more damage from vomiting than from being eaten.
If safe to induce vomiting, baking crystals can be given, but always
seek professional advice.