Pet Poison Prevention and Treatment for Dogs

golden retriever looking at food on table

Dogs are curious and we know that they tend to explore their worlds with their mouths! 
Did you know that many potential toxins like prescription medications, pest baits, and antifreeze are appealing to dogs because of their scent or flavour?  Review these tips to prevent, recognize, and treat toxin exposure in your dogs.

Prevention is the safest, most cost-effective way to manage poison risks.  Identify the poisons in your environment by visiting, and follow these steps:

  • Store human and animal medications, de-wormers, and household chemicals up high and in sealed, chew-proof containers.
  • Keep dogs out of garages, shops, and sheds.
  • Avoid use of rodenticides, pesticides, and toxic plants in your home, or on your property.
  • Dispose of cigarette butts in covered receptacles and always keep cannabis products out of reach.
  • Be aware of livestock deworming schedules and prevent access to the manure of recently dewormed farm animals.
  • Use over-the-counter meds, home remedies, supplements, and alternative medicines according to the manufacturer’s recommendations for dogs, and under the advice of your veterinarian.

Sometimes pet owners discover that their pet has had access to poison (chewed packaging, remnants on mouth or hair) before they start to develop signs of illness. The symptoms of poison exposure depend on the type of toxin your dog has been exposed to.  Symptoms of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Appetite loss
  • Sedation or hyperactivity
  • Tremors, twitches, or seizures
  • Panting and/or salivation
  • Changes in drinking or urination habits, or incontinence
  • Pale, bright red, or yellow gums
  • Bruising or bleeding

Appropriate treatment for toxicity depends on the type of toxin involved.  The best course of treatment for one toxin could be the worst approach for another.  Always contact your veterinarian and/or the Pet Poison Helpline for first aid advice.  In the meantime, you can safely follow these tips:

  • Remove any remaining toxic materials from your dog’s mouth and/or environment.
  • Contact your vet and the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.
  • Do not attempt to induce vomiting unless advised.
  • Bring the packaging, a sample of the toxin or plant material, or a picture to help identify the substance.
  • When it comes to dose, assume the worst! This will allow the most aggressive and safest approach to treatment.  For example, if your pet ingests an opened bottle of pills, assume the bottle was full when your dog ate it.
  • If your pet is exhibiting unusual behaviours, take a video to show your vet.
  • If poison is on your pet’s skin, hair, or feet, wash them thoroughly with dish soap to prevent further exposure.  Skip this step if your pet is unconscious or seizing.

While prevention is the best approach to poisoning, accidents do happen. Having a management plan will improve your dog’s recovery.  Keep contact information for your veterinarian, the Pet Poison Helpline, and your local veterinary emergency clinic handy for all household members, staff, and pet sitters.

At Pets Plus Us, we’ve put together a group of products and services that make being a pet owner easier. We call these our Blue Ribbon Benefits that are part of Pets Plus Us pet insurance policy. This includes free access to PetHelpFone™, the Pet Poison Helpline®, and a paid subscription to Modern Dog magazine, among other benefits.  Learn more here.

Blue Ribbon Benefits | Pets Plus Us

Written by:
Dr. Jennifer Sperry