Dogs are curious creatures and like to investigate, which leads to many accidental poisonings each year. Often a dog will find an open can or bottle of some chemical and, accidentally or on purpose, spill it. Naturally the chemical gets on its fur and paws, and while licking the area clean, it swallows the possibly toxic substance. It is your responsibility as a pet owner to keep all potentially toxic products tightly closed and out of your dog's reach.
Some of the signs of a possible poisoning include excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, twitching, nervousness, convulsions, coma, and a chemical odor on the body. Here's what you can do if your dog is poisoned:
Step 1: If the dog is comatose or convulsing, wrap it in a blanket and transport your pet immediately to the veterinarian with the suspect poison container, plant, or leaf.
Step 2: If the dog has a chemical odor on its skin, wash the entire dog with mild soap until the odor is gone. If the poison was licked or ingested, flushing the dog's mouth with clean water may also help in decontamination.
Step 3: If the dog has not already vomited and the poison is not a caustic or petroleum product (see lists below), induce vomiting by giving 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 20 pounds every 10 minutes until vomiting starts. If no vomiting occurs within 30 minutes, transport the dog immediately to the veterinarian with the suspected poison container.
Step 4: Call the Pet Poison Control hotline for further instructions at 888-426-4435. (There is a charge for this service.)
Caustics include battery acid, corn and callous remover, dishwashing detergent, drain cleaner, grease remover, lye, and oven cleaner. Petroleum products include paint solvent, floor wax, and dry-cleaning solution.
You might be surprised by the number of household items that are poisonous to your dog. Some of the most common are alcoholic beverages, ammonia, antifreeze, bleach, chocolate (baking chocolate is the worst), detergents, disinfectants, dry-cleaning solution, fertilizer, furniture polish, gasoline, glue, grapes and raisins, human medications, mothballs, mouse and rat poison, onions, oven cleaners, paint thinner and remover, shoe polish, silver polish, and toilet bowl cleaner.
In addition, some household plants are toxic to your pet, including aloe vera, amaryllis, avocado, azalea, bird of paradise, calla lily, castor bean, corn plant, cyclamen, daffodil, day lily, dieffenbachia, Easter lily, elephant ears, English ivy, gladiolus, holly, hyacinth, hydrangea, iris, kalanchoe, macadamia nut, mistletoe, narcissus, onion, philodendron, poinsettia, rhododendron, tomato plant, tulip, yew, and yucca.
(This is only a partial list. For a more complete listing, refer to the ASPCA Animal Poison Center at www.aspca.org.)
Dogs can also become poisoned from smoke or carbon monoxide. Check the next section for tips on what to do in this first-aid emergency.