Home > Pet Health > Treating Poisoning

Treating Poisoning

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 12 Mar 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
 pet Poisoning Animal Poisoning Dog

Despite all your care and supervision, accidents can still happen and it is important to know what to do if your pet is poisoned. Dogs and cats are particularly prone to poisoning as dogs will chew and eat almost anything (particularly when puppies are teething) and cats are insatiably curious.

Common Poisons

Many household items can be toxic to pets - these include many pesticides (especially rat poison - even a small amount of this can be fatal), weed-killers, ammonia, bleach, washing detergents and a variety of indoor and outdoor plants, such as azalea, oleander, mistletoe, sago palm and Easter lily. Anti-freeze is another deadly substance - because of its sweet taste, it is particularly attractive to pets; watch that your car is not dripping a puddle onto the garage floor or driveway, which is then being lapped up by your pet - even small amounts can cause kidney failure and death. Other dangerous items include batteries, moth balls, pot pourri and over-the-counter medications - a 200mg tablet of ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers in a ten-pound dog. Always store potentially toxic products in cupboards safely out of paws' reach.

Even food can be a potential source of poisoning - dogs, for example, should never be fed grapes or raisins, potatoes, onions and most of all, chocolate. Chocolate contains a compound similar to caffeine, called theobromine. Just one-half ounce or less of chocolate per pound body weight can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, nervousness, restlessness, excitement, tremors, seizures, and even coma.

Cats can be particularly prone to toxic products deposited on their fur or picked up on their paws, as they inadvertently ingest the poisons when they then wash themselves. Never use a product designed for a dog on a cat, as cats are far more sensitive to any chemical toxicity than dogs.

Symptoms of Poisoning

Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, nervousness, difficulty breathing (panting), and change in pupil size. Depending on the poison, the animal may show extremely rapid or extremely slow heart rate. In extreme cases, your pet may become unsteady on their feet, go into convulsions, or become unconscious.

Help! My Pet Has Been Poisoned - What Should I do?

First of all, don't panic! A rapid response is important but keeping calm will give you a higher chance of saving your pet's life. Take a deep breath and follow these steps:
  • First, always make sure you have your veterinarian's number (or an emergency on-call vet) on hand - place it by the phone or on the fridge. If you suspect poisoning, don't hesitate to call immediately - their advice is crucial.
  • Check the animal's vital signs (airway/ breathing, heartbeat, bleeding, temperature) and administer first-aid if necessary. Check for signs of shock (pale gums, listless, weak pulse).
  • If the poison was topical, flush the area with large volumes of water (eg, in the eye). If it was in powder form, you may need to brush or vacuum it off the coat.
  • If the poison was inhaled, take the animal into fresh air as soon as possible.
  • Most poisons are ingested - in some cases, inducing vomiting as soon as possible is a good thing to do. However, always check with a vet before trying to make your pet vomit - and you need to know exactly what the poison was. Some poisons are particularly caustic and can actually cause as much damage coming back up as they did going down. In these cases, it might be better to give your pet some milk to neutralise the substance but again, check with your vet first.
  • To induce vomiting, administer some washing soda crystals or a strong salt solution.
  • Try to determine how much of the poison your pet ingested and try to take along a sample to your vet, as well as anything the animal may have vomited. Even if your pet seems to be fine, it is best to seek veterinary advice following a poisoning as some poisons may be slow acting or require further treatment.
Poisoning is high on the list of a pet owner's nightmares and unfortunately, is quite a common occurrence. Therefore, arming yourself with the knowledge of what to do before any accident occurs means that you will be in the best position to help your pet if he or she is poisoned.

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[Add a Comment]
annoyed - Your Question:
Last night we returned home to find that our dog had eaten the onions that had been cooked with the roast. After looking at advice on several sites online we took him to the out of hours vet, though he was not showing signs of illness at that point. They strongly recommended that he be treated immediately - made to vomit, blood tests and then kept in on and administered fluids, monitored. They have charged us £800 for this treatment (hopefully hopefully hopefully our insurance will cover this - after the first £100) and he has been transferred to our local vets today. My husband was not impressed when he arrived early this morning - after quite a long journey and worrying about the money - to transfer the dog to be told by the local vet that eating onions was not that much of a problem, he'd continue with the treatment as it had been started, but it was probably unnecessary. Fortunately our dog seems to be OK - blood tests showed a slight reduction in red blood cells. Is the ingestion of onions a problem that needs this expensive treatment or not?!!!

Our Response:
Out of hours vets are for emergency situations and come with well-known premium prices. You would have been asked questions and given answers regarding whether it was judged treatment was required. You should have also been asked whether you wished to go ahead with the treatment. Therefore, you as pet owners would have to take some responsibility yourselves for the decisions you made to go ahead. There is no real answer to this question, except to look on the vet's website to see what its terms and conditions for treatment are and complain if you feel you have been unfairly treated.
SaferPets - 13-Mar-18 @ 12:46 PM
Last night we returned home to find that our dog had eaten the onions that had been cooked with the roast. After looking at advice on several sites online we took him to the out of hours vet, though he was not showing signs of illness at that point. They strongly recommended that he be treated immediately - made to vomit, blood tests and then kept in on and administered fluids, monitored. They have charged us £800 for this treatment (hopefully hopefully hopefully our insurance will cover this - after the first £100) and he has been transferred to our local vets today. My husband was not impressed when he arrived early this morning - after quite a long journey and worrying about the money - to transfer the dog to be told by the local vet that eating onions was not that much of a problem, he'd continue with the treatment as it had been started, but it was probably unnecessary. Fortunately our dog seems to be OK - blood tests showed a slight reduction in red blood cells.Is the ingestion of onions a problem that needs this expensive treatment or not?!!!
annoyed - 12-Mar-18 @ 11:12 AM
@Kbentley - I hope so. It would depend on how many one ate. At least they are in good hands and the vets are the right people to deal with this and tell you whether they will be OK :(
MinesaPug - 8-Sep-17 @ 2:02 PM
My 2 dogs got a hold of 96, 200 mg ibuprofen, I think one for most of it though. I took them to the vet yesterday and today after a kidney function test showed high and they upped the fluids, I went and saw them and both were very active, but got tired semi-quickly. Is this a good sign of them getting better?
Kbentley - 8-Sep-17 @ 2:16 AM
MomoIsPeaches - Your Question:
My cat was hiding for an entire day. When I found him he was breathing heavily, hypersalivating, lethargic, and had the appearance of something on his fur. He didn't want food or water and his tongue was sticking out. I think he knocked roundup weed killer over on himself and attempted to clean it off (therefore ingesting it). I gave him a bath and have been using a pet syringe to give him water and small amounts of milk. I think he ingested the poison on Tuesday morning, it's now Thursday. He has become more responsive, his breathing is returning to normal, and he is salivating less but he is still sleeping all day. Is he recovering? I really need advice because I really cannot afford to pay a vet right now.

Our Response:
You may qualify for free treatment, please see link here which will give you more advice. I hope this helps.
SaferPets - 3-Mar-17 @ 2:32 PM
My cat was hiding for an entire day. When I found him he was breathing heavily, hypersalivating, lethargic, and had the appearance of something on his fur. He didn't want food or water and his tongue was sticking out. I think he knocked roundup weed killer over on himself and attempted to clean it off (therefore ingesting it). I gave him a bath and have been using a pet syringe to give him water and small amounts of milk. I think he ingested the poison on Tuesday morning,it's now Thursday. He has become more responsive, his breathing is returning to normal, and he is salivating less but he is still sleeping all day. Is he recovering? I really need advice because I really cannot afford to pay a vet right now.
MomoIsPeaches - 2-Mar-17 @ 6:16 PM
What are the side effects of a rabbit been poisoned do they stop eating?
Charly - 10-Aug-16 @ 1:02 PM
You do NOT induce vomiting in Rabbits. They're are physically not capable of being sick. If a Rabbit has ingested something they should not have, then please please seek a vet. Rabbits are harder to care for than dogs or cats, most vets class them as an exotic pet and a lot aren't trained to care for a Rabbit. . Always seek a Rabbit savvy vet when choosing one for your bunny. Any changes in a Rabbit need investigation by a vet and especially if a Rabbit is not eating or pooping -THIS IS AN EMERGENCY AND YOU NEED TO SEE A VET STRAIGHT AWAY. DO NOT WAIT.. Rabbits can become ill very very quickly and as they are a prey animal, they are very good at hiding illness.
Leey1 - 2-Apr-16 @ 8:04 PM
My name is Jamie, I had a beautiful Albion lionhead bunny named Lola. I had only had her for a short amount of time since I got her for Christmas. She had a very big cage in my room she stayed in. I started to keep the cage open because I didn't want to keep her in the cage alone 24/7. I made sure there was no wires laying around or anything else she could get into. She was such a good bunny. She would go in and out of her cage as she pleased. I have a wicker shoe box in my room, and Lola started picking at it. I had a bad feeling about it but I thought I was just being paranoid so i asked my mom and she said that bunnies like wicker and it was okay. Listening to my mom, I let her pick at it. While I went for a visit at my dads, I came home and mom was in tears. She told me that she had found Lola behind my bed, she loved it there because it was dark, stiff and cold. I was completely heart broken and still am. I blame myself for it because I knew I shouldn't have let her pick at it. What breaks my heart the most is that my beautiful baby girl passed while I wasn't home. If I were there, I wouldn't have been as heart broken. She died alone. I don't know if she suffered or not. I pray for her. I know that she's in a better place now. I really wish I would've thrown that wicker shoe box out since it's filled with stuff I don't use. I'm so stupid! I will never forgive myself no matter how much I know it was an accident. I could've stopped it once I had that bad feeling. Just coming home to her dead body haunts me. I will never forget that. She had a personality and I loved it. She was a very calm but active bunny and she loved hay. She was so fluffy and loved to cuddle. I miss her more and more each day. If you are reading this, please don't let your bunny get to treated wicker. I personally will never give any small animal wicker, whether it's treated or not.
Jamie27jersey - 27-Feb-16 @ 5:53 AM
My daughter, put a wicker basket in the bunny cage as a bed for him in my stupidity I did realize it was painted and that he had been chewing on it for about a week! Now he is having convulsions!!! I can't get to a vet I removed the basket and am offering water I don't know what else to do!!!!
Tabs - 19-Nov-15 @ 6:18 AM
Cheyenne - Your Question:
We had a pool accident 2 days ago where bleach-based pool shock and ammonia-based pool shock were mixed together in a bucket of water and immediately created a cloud of concentrated toxic chlorine gas that engulfed my yard, including my rabbit hutch. Dispite the very painful and nearly impossible fight to get them out and quickly into safety, and 2 days of intensive love and care, I found my female had passed away while I was at work. I had 4 rabbits, 2 of which seem to have made it out unscathed, but my passed female's mate is raising concern. He's eating, drinking a little, pooping a lot, urinating here and there (not as much as he should be, due to not drinking enough). He's perfectly responsive, doing all his normal things, much better than the female ever did after the accident, but his breathing is still so heavily laboured and I'm terrified that he either has chemical burns in his lungs from the fumes or fluid in his lungs, which was suspected to be the cause of death of my female. How should these be treated? I've had no luck finding anyone near me that knows how to doctor rabbits and it would kill me to lose another bunny.

Our Response:
You need to contact a vet as soon as possible, as your rabbit may be in pain.
SaferPets - 30-Oct-15 @ 2:53 PM
We had a pool accident 2 days ago wherebleach-based pool shock and ammonia-based pool shock were mixed together in a bucket of water and immediately created a cloud of concentrated toxic chlorine gas that engulfed my yard, including my rabbit hutch. Dispite the very painful and nearly impossible fight to get them out and quickly into safety, and 2 days of intensive love and care, I found my female had passed away while I was at work. I had 4 rabbits, 2 of which seem to have made it out unscathed, but my passed female's mate is raising concern. He's eating, drinking a little, pooping a lot, urinating here and there (not as much as he should be, due to not drinking enough). He's perfectly responsive, doing all his normal things, much better than the female ever did after the accident, but his breathing is still so heavily laboured and I'm terrified that he either has chemical burns in his lungs from the fumes or fluid in his lungs, which was suspected to be the cause of death of my female. How should these be treated? I've had no luck finding anyone near me that knows how to doctor rabbits and it would kill me to lose another bunny.
Cheyenne - 30-Oct-15 @ 5:24 AM
If a dog were to ingest a significant amount of bleach and was showing signs of shock, burns to esophagus, difficulty breathing, vomiting (not induced) and we think he is lapsing into unconciousness, what treatment would the vet administer???? this is a dog we found & he was covered in bleach on his coat. money isnt an issue we would just like to know as the vet rushed him away
HCC - 15-Jun-12 @ 2:58 PM
My cat is currently very sick because a vet gave her washing soda to make her vomit after swallowing some string. The washing soda has caused a huge lesion inside her stomach, she has been very sick for a few days now and her recovery is still uncertain. Washing soda is TOXIC to cats, it should never be given to a cat under any circumstances!
Kelly - 7-Mar-12 @ 12:10 PM
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