As a veterinarian, I treat dogs that have gotten into something toxic on a daily basis. Here at the DailyBarker, we want to ensure our community is well informed in order to prevent as many of these occurrences as possible! The best way to protect your pet from suffering from toxin ingestion is to be educated about what is dangerous, keep all potential toxins in a safe location where your pet cannot access them, and be educated on what to do if your pet manages to get into a toxin. Below is a breakdown of the most common toxins I see when treating dogs.
While this is a comprehensive list of the most common toxins, there are MANY toxic items not on this list; so just because something is not on this list, it does not mean it is safe for your pet. Some items on this list can be toxic to your dog and can be fatal if even very tiny amounts are consumed, while others are not overly dangerous in smaller amounts, but become toxic if too much is consumed.
Unfortunately, I have seen way too many dogs suffer serious health issues, require hospitalization, or even lost before their time because of the ingestion of poisonous substances. Often in these cases, the owners aren’t even aware that what their dog ate was toxic until it was too late.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol®): Human anti-inflammatory/pain medication
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: Dietary supplement
- Aspirin: Human anti-inflammatory/pain medication
- Caffeine: Found in energy drinks, energy bars, etc.
- Dextromethorphan (Delsym®, Robitussin-DM®): Human cough suppressant
- Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®): Human anti-inflammatory/pain medication
- Iron: Found in iron supplements, multivitamins, prenatal vitamins, fertilizers, pesticides, hand warmers, and many types of oxygen absorber sachets in food packaging
- Naproxen (Aleve®): Human anti-inflammatory/pain medication
- Phenylephrine (Sudafed-PE®): Human oral decongestant
- Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®): Human oral decongestant
- Vitamin A, D, E, K: Found in vitamins, topical oils (Vitamin E lotion), etc.
- Garlic, onion, leeks, chives
- Grapes, raisins, zante currants
- Macadamia nuts
- Moldy foods
- Rising bread dough
- Sugar-free foods and candy (see Xylitol below)
- Acids: Found in drain/toilet bowl cleaners, metal cleaners, rust removers, vinegar, etc.
- Anti-Freeze: Ethylene glycol found in regular anti-freeze is HIGHLY TOXIC and often fatal. Propylene glycol in “pet-safe” anti-freeze can be toxic, too, depending on how much is consumed
- Bases: Found in drain cleaners, dry cell batteries, hair relaxers, lye, non-chlorine bleach, oven cleaners, etc.
- DEET: Found in insect repellents (such as Off®)
- Ethanol: Found in rubbing alcohol, Purell®, and other hand sanitizers, etc.
- Gasoline/diesel/motor oil
- Ice melting products: Especially those containing calcium chloride
- Metaldehyde: Found in snail and slug baits
- Methanol: Found in windshield washer fluid, paint thinners, household cleaning products
- Propylene glycol: Found in “pet-safe” antifreeze, hair dyes, disinfectants, and various paints/varnish
- Rodenticides:Found in rat poison (like d-Con)
- Tea tree oil (melaleuca oil): Found in many lotions, shampoos, and skin-care products
- Xylitol (sugar-free sweetener):Found in many sugar-free foods and chewing gum, breath mints, nicotine gum, oral care products, nasal sprays, and sugar-free chewable vitamins
- Liquid potpourri
- Lithium ion batteries
- Tobacco products: Cigarette butts contain 25% of the total nicotine content of a cigarettes so eating just the butts can cause toxicity to dogs
- U.S. pennies: Pennies minted after 1982 are toxic to dogs as they have a very high zinc content
- Recreational drugs
- Autumn Crocus
- Castor Bean
- English Ivy
- Holly bush
- Sago Palms
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG INGESTS A TOXIN
If pets ingest toxic foods, medications, tobacco, marijuana, recreational drugs, and many plants then it is recommended to have them vomit it up as quickly as possible to prevent absorption of the toxic substance. You can rush your dog to your local veterinarian or emergency clinic and they can make your pet vomit using medications. For those cases when animals cannot be transported to a veterinary hospital in a timely manager you can make your pet vomit at home, 3% hydrogen peroxide can be administered to induce vomiting.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR DOG VOMIT WITH 3% HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
- 0.5-1mL per pound of weight (not to exceed 50 mL)
- OR 1 Teaspoon (5mL) per 10 lbs of body weight
- 1 Teaspoon=5mL, 1 Tablespoon= 15mL
- 0.5-1mL per pound of weight (not to exceed 50 mL)
- Walking or gentle movement can help make pets vomit quicker
- Vomiting usually occurs in 10-15 minutes.
- If no vomiting has occurred after 15 minutes, a repeat dose may be given.
- Maximum dose is 45 mL per dog
- Feeding a small amount of food prior to giving the hydrogen peroxide may help improve the likelihood of your pet vomiting
- If you have a syringe or turkey baster it can make the job much easier. Do not be too forceful or pour it too fast down your dog’s throat as they can potentially have it go down their trachea to their lungs instead which can cause severe problems.
- It is important to note, hydrogen peroxide stronger than 3% can cause severe corrosive injury to your dog’s mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach. If too much hydrogen peroxide is given and is not vomited up, gastritis can occur.
- Even if you are able to successfully make your dog vomit up the toxin they ingested, I STRONGLY recommend you take your pet to your veterinarian or check with the Pet Poison Helpline to determine if your pet needs monitoring, fluids, activated charcoal, or any medications to counteract the effects of the toxin.
WHEN YOU SHOULD NOT MAKE YOUR DOG VOMIT WITH HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
Any time your dog has ingested toxic chemicals, household cleaners, glue, sharp objects, etc. then DO NOT make your pet vomit. Your dog should be rushed to the nearest veterinarian/emergency clinic ASAP. Making your dog vomit toxic chemicals can cause severe ulceration and damage to their esophagus, throat, and mouth. Sharp objects can become lodged in their esophagus in their chest requiring endoscopy for extraction or may perforate the esophagus/stomach.
WHEN IN DOUBT, ALWAYS SEEK VETERINARY GUIDANCE AND CARE!!!
PET POISON HOTLINE
The Pet Poison Helpline is a 24/7 resource that helps owners determine if what their dog got into is toxic, and if so, what actions they need to take. They charge a $49 incident fee, payable by credit card for the initial consultation as well as all follow-up calls associated the management of the case. The Pet Poison Helpline number is 1-855-764-7661. See www.PetPoisonHelpline.com for more information!!
There are many items in most homes, garages, and yards that are toxic to dogs. The best way to help prevent your pet from an unnecessary and potential fatal toxic incident is to be well informed about the most common toxins for dogs and ensure they are stored in a safe location where your pet cannot get to them. Your counter or table is not a safe location — trust me on that. I have seen 10 lb dogs manage to find a way onto a counter to get into something they shouldn’t have!
If your pet finds something potentially toxic, the best course of action is to rush them IMMEDIATELY to your local vet or emergency clinic. Time is often of the utmost importance in these cases. Sometimes 30 minutes can be the difference between life and death for your beloved dog. If you cannot get your pet into a vet clinic immediately, the Pet Poison Helpline can help guide you on the best options and their website is full of resources. Vomiting can be induced at home with 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, however you need to make sure what your pet consumed is something that is safe for them to vomit. It’s is ALWAYS better to play it safer than sorry in cases of possible toxin ingestion in your pet.
Spencer Mills, DVM
How do you keep toxins away from your pups? Tell us in the comments!
Dr. Mills is a veterinarian and avid dog lover who is dedicated to helping further educate pet owners on all things health related for their four-legged companions. In addition to practicing in his local vet clinic, Dr. Mills has a mobile house call veterinary business, works with numerous local shelters and rescue organizations, and is in the process of opening an emergency veterinary clinic giving him a wide array of experience in the veterinary field.