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Dog Poisoning


One of the most common emergency cases in veterinary hospitals are related to poisoning. When your dog ingests a substance which his body can’t process, we speak about toxicosis.

A common misconception about poisoning, is that most poisoning cases happen outside the house.

However, that’s not the case. Most poisonings happen inside your home.

What determines the toxicity of a substance?

Most substances that we know, have a point where they become toxic. This point is always variable and it depends on many factors such as:

The time it was ingested

The body weight of the dog who consumed it. 

The overall health of the dog who ingested the substance.

The type of substance. 

Some are obviously much more dangerous than others.

Age & Size

Just like with us, humans, the age and overall health of your dog plays a big role. The immune system of a young, healthy dog is much better at fighting toxic substances than an old dog who’s immune system is deteriorating.

If your dog suffers from a chronic liver or kidney disease, he is also more likely to have adverse effects.

And yes, size does matter!

In general, smaller dogs are exposed to a much greater risk of poisoning compared to bigger dogs. Simply because they need to ingest a much smaller amount. So, if a small dog and a big dog both consume the same amount of a toxic substance, the smaller dog is in a much worse position.

So, what household items can kill a dog?

You see, every household is filled with a variety of food, plants, medicines and chemicals.

As a dog owner, you know that sometimes our four legged friends try to eat something they are not supposed to. And obviously, there are a lot of toxic substances available inside your home.

Because there are so many different, it's impossible to cover all of them in here. 

However, we'll cover the most common foods, plants, chemicals and medicines which are dangerous, and even deadly, for our pets.

In case you suspect poisoning, you should always and immediately call your local veterinarian and ask for advise.

There are, however, a few things you should know so you can potentially save your dog’s life.

Dog Poisoning Symptoms

There are many poisonous substances around, and all of them can have a very different effect on your dog's health. Light signs of dog poisoning include

  • restlessness,
  • redness or irritation of the skin,
  • light swelling, light diarrhea,
  • redness of the eyes etc.

They usually are clinical signs that are easily overlooked.

However, more severe cases of poisoning include severe

  • Severe diarrhea,
  • vomiting,
  • dizziness,
  • neurological problems,
  • loss of appetite,
  • seizures,
  • shock
  • and even death.

Although we're gonna pay special attention to chocolate poisoning and xylitol poisoning in dogs later on, but we'll cover some of the most common dog poisoning symptoms now.

Dog poisoning chocolate symptoms 

The most common signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drinking, excessive unration and possibly controversial effects on the heart. Depending on the age, size, health condition and the consumed amount of chocolate, your dog may not survive a chocolate poisoning. The ingestion time plays a big role in that as well. Given the potentially deadly effects of chocolate in dogs, it's important to store the delicious stuff in a safe place. We'll cover dog chocolate poisoning a little later in more depth. 

Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in dogs 

How do you know if your dog has been poisoned with antifreeze?

Even a small amount of antifreeze liquid is extremely dangerous for your best friend. Only 5 tablespoons of the toxic substance is deadly for a medium sized dog. But how do you recognize the signs of an antifreeze dog poisoning? 

When your dog licked or drank the dangerous substance, he or she will start to show signs of poisoning. These include: 


neurological symptoms (your dog may look drunk)


vomiting & nausea

increased heart rate


loss of consciousness

If you suspect that your dog drank antifreeze, you should contact your vet immediately!

The actual dangerous substance in antifreeze is called ethylene glycol and is also commonly found in brake fluid. When you see your dog linking something from your garage floor, keep a close eye on his / her behavior.

Antifreeze poisoning in dogs timeline

Between 30 minutes and 12 hours: Excessive drinking, excessive drooling, diarrhea, dizziness & seizures. It may appear like your dog is drunk.

Between 12 hours and 24 hours: Earlier clinical signs may disappear, but more severe reactions may happen internally. Dehydration, increased heart rate and breathing difficulties are signs to watch out for.

Between 24 hours and 72 hours: Severe kidney failure may occur. Watch out for clinical signs such as extreme lethargy, excessive drooling and loss of consciousness. 

Dog food poisoning

As a responsible dog owner, you should know that there are some human food products that are actually dangerous and even deadly for your dog. Again, there are a lot of different consumable products our four-legged companions can't stand, but we're gonna cover the most common ones. 

Dogs and Chocolate

As mentioned earlier, chocolate poisoning in dogs is quite a big issues. Therefore we're gonna go into more depth later on.

Dog xylitol poisoning

Xylitol is a chemical compound commonly used in chewing gum and is used as a sugar substitute in a variety of consumer products for the human market. More about xylitol later on.

Grapes and Raisins

Can grapes really kill dogs? In fact, they can. And regardless of the breeds, size and age, grapes and raisins can make your dog extremely sick. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to discover the exact substance which causes the toxic reaction in dogs.


Fresh or dry yeast is used to make bread, and most people have it readily available in the their fridge. Yeast is very dangerous when consumed by a dog because it causes 2 reactions inside the dog’s stomach.

First of all, yeast rises when it is in a warm and moisture environment. Your dog’s stomach is just a place like that! When the yeast starts to rise, it will expand in the stomach.

This leads to bloating and it becomes a life-threatening situation pretty fast!

Secondly, yeast produces ethanol during it’s fermentation process. This ethanol is absorbed by the body and ends up in the bloodstream causing alcohol poisoning.

Important: When you notice that your dog consumed yeast, go to the vet IMMEDIATELY!

What do I do if my dog eats yeast?

When you see your dog eating yeast, or any product containing raw yeast, you can try induced vomiting. This process is also called emesis and we're covering that a little later on. 

How much yeast is toxic to dog? 

It all depends on the size of your dog and the amount of yeast ingested. Keep in mind that even a small amount of yeast can be deadly for a medium size dog!

Onion and dogs 

When onions or garlic are ingested in big or chronic amounts, they can be poisonous as well. Although you’ll rarely see a dog eat raw onions or garlic, he or she can get pretty sick when he gets a hold of your onion-garlic soup you left on the table last night.

Onions bad for dogs

I did a quick research on Google a few days before writing this. Did you know that the search term "onions bad for dogs" is entered approximately 12.100 times per month? That's around 400 times per day or once every two minutes. That, to me, means that there is a lot of confusion regarding this topic. Just to make it clear: Yes, onions are bad for dogs! 

What to do if your dog eats onions?

Onion poisoning in dogs is not extremely common. But what do you do when it happens? Simple. You start induced vomiting and keep an eye on your dogs behavior! (More on that later)

Signs of onion poisoning in dogs

Watch out for signs of weakness, a decrease in appetite, pale gums and unusual urination. The urine may turn red.

Dogs garlic poisoning

Onion poisoning and garlic poisoning in dogs are very similar. Therefore, the same clinical signs and treatment apply!

Dogs salt poisoning

Just like humans, dogs can get salt poisoning when the body is exposed to an excessive amount of salt. 

Toxic Plants

There are millions of species of plants around the world, and many of them are poisonous to both humans and dogs. It is impossible make a complete list of every toxic plant, but here are the most common house and garden plants that are poisonous or even lethal for your beloved pet.


Amaryllis bulbs

Asparagus fern




Daffodil bulbs

Day lilies


Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)






Lily of the valley


Morning glory




Rhubarb leaves

Sweet pea

Tulip bulbs

Umbrella plant



If you see your dog chewing on one of these plants, contact your local veterinarian.

Signs of plant poisoning in dogs

Because there are so many plants out there, and they all contain different elements and substances, it's difficult to describe the signs of plant poisoning for each and every one of them.

However, the most common signs include: Diarrhea, vomiting, painful stomach and irritation. More severe cases include difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, neurological signs, coma and even death. 

Human medication for dogs

Did you ever consider giving a human painkiller to your dog? Perhaps you wanted to give something to make the diarrhea go away?

Well, that was an extremely bad idea!

Generally speaking, you can never give human medicines to your dog.

Unless, of course, your vet prescribes them.

There is a wealth of different drugs for many different purposes, so it’s impossible to list all of them. However, sometimes people think it’s a good idea to give human medication to their dog.

Now, don’t understand this wrong. Veterinarians use human medicines all the time. The difference is the dosage, and that is often very different than the dosage for humans.

Medications toxic to dogs

Let’s have a look at the 3 most common human drugs, which you probably have laying around at home.

Ibuprofen – Ibuprofen treats pain, fever and inflammation in human bodies. Although it’s relatively safe for us, dogs process Ibuprofen differently. In extreme cases it can even lead to organ failure. Therefore, it is extremely harmful to dogs.

Unfortunately, this type of poisoning happens on a regular basis.

Aspirin – Aspirin occurs commonly in humans medicine and treats pain, fever and inflammation. It might be prescribed by your vet, but the dosages are obviously very different.

NEVER give human aspirin to your dog without veterinary approval.

Naproxen – Naproxen treats pain and inflammation in joints. Whereas Naproxen is safe for humans, it is extremely dangerous for dogs. Even a very small dosage can be deadly!

!!Important!! If you got some prescription drugs from your vet, do not increase the dosage without prior consultation!!

Dog xylitol poisoning

Xylitol is a very common food supplement and is mainly used in chewing gums. Chewing gums with a high xylitol content are extremely dangerous for dogs. Even 2 pieces of chewing gum are enough to kill a medium size dog. So if you very wondered "How much xylitol will kill a dog?", you know that it only requires a very small amount. 

Xylitol induces a fast spike of insulin levels in the dog’s body and can cause life-threatening low blood sugar levels within 15 to 30 minutes.

If you see your dog ingest xylitol, fast emesis (induced vomiting) should be done. After that, you should go to the nearest veterinarian immediately.

Note: Induced vomiting should only be done when the dog doesn’t have clinical signs yet. Don’t start emesis when the dog is already showing symptoms such as vomiting, tremors or has collapsed.

How to tell if your dog has xylitol poisoning

How do I know if my dog has xylitol poisoning? Well, you'll realize it very soon. The signs of Xylitol poisoning come extremely fast, usually within just a few minutes. The clinical signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, lethargy, weakness, collapse, tremors and seizures.

How to treat xylitol poisoning in dogs

If the dog is already showing symptoms of xylitol poisoning, you should put honey on the mucous membrane (the gums) inside the mouth in order to raise the glucose levels in the blood.

However, the honey only works for a little while and is therefore not a permanent solution. You should seek immediate veterinary care!

Depending on the amount of xylitol ingested, your dog may need to stay at the intensive care unit.

So can dogs survive a xylitol poisoning? 

Yes, they can. But there are many factors coming into play. The size of the dog and the amount ingested will highly determine the outcome. If you're fast and you make it to the vet on time, the chances of survival increase significantly. 

Dog chocolate poisoning

Alright, we're finally at the section I've mentioned a few times before. Chocolate poisoning in dogs is extremely common, so it's worth to dedicate a complete section to it. So, let's dive into it. 


Why are chocolates bad for dogs? 

That’s because chocolate contains 2 harmful components:

Theobromine and Caffeine

Theobromine is a chemical compound commonly found in cacao. As a general rule, keep in mind that darker chocolate is more dangerous. Dark chocolate contains more cacao, and therefore more theobromine, compared to white chocolate.

Therefore, white chocolate is considered less toxic because of the lower levels of cacao.


How much dark chocolate will kill a dog?

It depends on the type of dark chocolate. Chocolate with 90% cacao is of course more toxic than the 40% variant. But as a general rule, 20 grams of chocolate per 1kg of body weight can be deadly. That's around 0.3 ounces per pound of body weight. 

Obviously, the worst chocolate for dogs is the one with the highest amount of cacao. 


Dog chocolate poisoning symptoms 

Watch out for the following clinical signs:



Excessive drinking,

Excessive urinating,

Possible controversial effects on the heart


Dog chocolate poisoning timeline

The first sign of chocolate poisoning in dogs can appear within an hour. However, it can take up to 12 hours before the first signs start to show. 

Note: Depending on the ingested dosage, your dog may not survive a chocolate poisoning. Therefore, start the first aid procedure at home.

First aid should only be done when these conditions apply:

Firstly, when the ingestion time is short

Secondly, when your dog doesn’t show clinical signs yet.

Start Induced vomiting immediately and contact your local veterinarian A.S.A.P.

How to treat a poisoned dog - First Aid Procedure

So, your dog ate something bad. The first thing you need to do is to let him vomit. In fact, you have to let your dog vomit as soon as possible, before the harmful substance can enter his system.

Often times, dogs start vomiting by themselves. However, if that doesn’t happen you need to help with it. This is called induced vomiting or emesis. Luckily for you, this is relatively easy to at home.

Remember: It must be done ASAP!

How to make your dog throw up?

For a long time, people assumed that giving salt to your dog will make him vomit. Although that it true, this method is outdated. The usage of salt can give your dog salt poisoning.

Nowadays we use hydrogen peroxide 3%. Your local pharmacy supplies it and I recommend to have it at home.

As a rule of thumb, you administer 1-2ml per 1kg of body weight. It should be administered orally.

For very large dogs, the dosage can not exceed 50ml!

Please note that induced vomiting is not always successful. Your dog should start vomiting within 10 minutes after administering the hydrogen peroxide. It’s highly recommended to give your dog some food before the process, it makes vomiting easier!

Note: Even though your dog vomited, you still need to go to the veterinary clinic a.s.a.p. The vet examines your dog and perhaps takes some blood samples. Keep in mind that induced vomiting at home is not always successful and veterinary need is required.

Your vet may use other medicine to help your dog vomit.

When not to do it?

NEVER starting induced vomiting when:

Your dog ate a sharp object.

A corrosive substance is ingested, such as cleaning products.

He lost consciousness.

He collapsed.

The poison is ingested more than 4 hours ago.

When the dog has already been vomiting after ingestion.

If you are in any doubt about your dog’s condition, call your local vet immediately!!!

Don’t give any other medicine, except from 3% hydrogen peroxide!!

That was it for today! 

Thank you for staying with me, I hope you've learned some useful information. 

© 2020 Advanced Canine Education