As all dog-lovers can attest, the curious nature of our four-legged friends endows them with a proclivity for trouble. Unfortunately, some of the innocent adventures our pets get up to at home can become downright dangerous (and even fatal) if there’s toxic chemicals involved. For reference, more than $8.5 million was spent treating pets for poisoning during 2005 and 2014, according to Nationwide Pet Insurance. It’s important to be aware of the toxic products in your own home and how they can harm your dog — whether they be food, cleaning products, or medicine — so you can better keep your dog out of harm’s way.
Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which disrupts the central nervous system in dogs. Dark chocolate contains higher levels of theobromine, but it’s safer to stop your dog from consuming all types. If your dog eats too much chocolate, they will show symptoms, including: vomiting, diarrhoea, irritability, increased heart rate, as well as seizures and death in severe cases.
Grapes and raisins even in small amounts are toxic to dogs (although the exact reason why isn’t known). Upon consumption, dogs may experience kidney damage leading to kidney failure. Onions and garlic are similarly toxic; they’re part of the allium species, which is poisonous for dogs. Symptoms of allium poisoning show up as lethargy, weakness, salivating, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea.
To keep your dog safe, don’t give your them these foods (and keep it securely stored out of reach). Be extra vigilant around Christmas, Easter, and birthdays where instances of chocolate poisoning are higher.
Household cleaners are loaded with toxic chemicals that can lead to stomach issues and vomiting if consumed (vomit may appear frothy).In particular, liquid capsules attract pets and are highly-concentrated solutions with even more severe side-effects. Additionally, if your dog is exposed to oven or drain cleaner (as well as any corrosive product), they may experience symptoms of stomach upset, ulceration, tissue damage, and chemical burns.
Bleach is a particularly harmful product. It can result in corrosive damage to the skin, mouth, or gut upon topical or oral exposure. Dogs sometimes end up drinking from recently-cleaned toilets. In these cases, the bleach is less-concentrated (due to the water), but it still can damage the stomach.
Although dogs don’t like the taste of cleaning products, they may be drawn to and want to play with the brightly coloured bottles. The effects of toxic household chemicals on dogs can be severe, so it’s important you hide these products away from them. Make sure they’re in another room when you’re cleaning.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as ibuprofen and aspirin — are very dangerous for dogs. A dog accidentally overdosing on NSAIDs may experience loss of appetite and stomach upset. They may vomit and have diarrhoea (with blood present in both). This is caused by an ulceration in the gut. Your dog may also be weak and have difficulty walking. If left untreated, a NSAID overdose can cause kidney failure a few days later (with incontinence and thirst as the primary symptoms). In severe cases, sudden death can occur.
Antidepressants are another common danger to dogs. If overdose occurs, your dog may experience increased heart rate and blood pressure, loss of coordination, tremors, and seizures. Similarly, an overdose on blood-pressure medication can slow down your dog’s heart rate of with life-threatening effects.
All medicine — whether for animals or humans — should be safely kept high-up inside your medicine cabinet or somewhere else inaccessible by your pets. Remember to put any medication you take or your dog takes away again after use. If you’re unsure of how much medication your pet needs, always consult your vet before administering it.
Has your dog been poisoned?
If your dog has eaten, inhaled, or touched a potentially toxic substance, you need to act fast. Phone your vet (or a pet poison emergency line) as soon as possible. You’ll need to be ready to tell them:
Exactly what your dog touched or consumed
How much of it (grams, milliliters, a tablet, etc)
How long ago
The symptoms (if any) your dog is experiencing
If you can, bring some of the toxic substance (along with the packaging) to the emergency appointment for your dog. Giving the vet as much information as possible will let them administer an effective treatment faster.