Franklin Vets Blog

How do I know if my dog has been poisoned?

October 29, 2019

Symptoms of poisoning in dogs can vary depending on the type of poison they’ve encountered. These signs can range from vomiting to breathing difficulties to drooling.sad lab poisoning

Swallowed poisons, for example, often cause sickness, diarrhoea, agitation and heart issues. If your dog has inhaled something toxic, they may find it difficult to breathe or lose consciousness. Poisons that come into contact with your dog’s skin can cause irritation and pain.

The table below shows the main clinical signs in some of the most common poisons that we see.

ProductChemical/Common NameSome common signs
ChocolateTheobromineAgitation/hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, heart issues
Human anti-inflammatory medicationsIbuprofen, DiclofenacVomiting, diarrhoea, kidney failure, blood in faeces/vomit, abdominal pain
Panadol/ParacetamolParacetamol/AcetaminophenDepression, Weakness, Liver damage/failure, anaemia due to blood cell damage (cats especially susceptible)
Anticoagulant rat poisoningBromadiolone, Brodifacoum, Warfarin, Coumatetralyl, PindoneExcessive bruising or bleeding although these effects may not be seen until several days later
Slug pelletsMetaldehydeAnxiety, Unsteady on feet, seizures, breathing problems
Grapes & raisinsVitis ViniferaKidney failure, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive drinking/urinating
Vitamin DVomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions, abnormal heartbeat, kidney failure
OnionsThiosulphateDrooling, nausea, oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, pale gums
MarijuanaTHCSedation, Unsteady on feet, Urinary incontinence
LiliesAll Lilium spp.Vomiting, Diarrhoea, Kidney failure. Cats especially susceptible.
Mouldy foodAflatoxin or Tremorgenic fungal toxinsTremors, Seizures, Vomiting, Diarrhoea
chocolate is poisonous to dogs

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs

What to do in an emergency

  1. Prevent your dog from eating or breathing in any more of the toxin
  2. Phone us for advice
  3. Gather up any packaging from the poison, or a sample if it’s safe
  4. Drive your dog to your local Franklin Vets clinic (or Manukau Afterhours if we are not open), keeping them calm and cool on the journey
  5. Show your vet the packaging or sample.


Our vets will assess your dog’s condition before deciding on a treatment path. Their priority will be to stabilise your pet before carrying out any diagnostic tests or procedures.
The three categories of swallowing dangers are:

  • Poisons, such as chocolate, human drugs and raisins
    Grapes are poisonous to dogs

    Grapes are poisonous to dogs

  • Toxic and caustic substances, including bleach
  • Foreign bodies, such as toys, bones and sticks.

Treatment can be diverse ranging from inducing vomiting to remove toxin, stomach lavage under general anaesthetic, referral for endoscopic removal or severe cases, surgery. There are also antidotes for some poisons, including some rat poisons and antifreeze, but not all. In most cases, your dog’s symptoms will be treated to ensure their organs aren’t badly affected.

Prevention is the key!

  • Keep all potentially toxic substances, plants, flowers and foods well out of reach of your dog
  • If you’re treating pets with insecticides, separate them from other pets in the house
  • Always ensure your dog’s water supply is fresh.