Our homes and yards are often full of poisonous chemicals and toxic substances that can be very harmful to our pets.  In fact, poisoning is a very common problem in dogs due to their curious nature and tendency to eat things that we humans would know to stay well away from.

If  you suspect that your dog has eating something that might be toxic or contain chemicals that might be poisonous, it’s important to know that the effect of ingesting a poison is not always as immediate as you might think.  Depending on the substance the dog or cat may have had contact with or ingested, it is possible that they may not show any symptoms for days, sometimes  even weeks after they have swallowed it.

Therefore, if you do see or think your dog has ingested a potentially toxic substance, or has had exposure to toxic household cleaning products, it’s important to act quickly and contact a vet or emergency clinic, even if they appear to be doing okay and have not become immediately ill.

In some instances, and depending on the chemicals or other substances your pet may have had contact with,  your veterinarian may recommend inducing vomiting by making up a salt paste. Dr Mel talks through some tips for medical emergencies at home, including how to induce vomiting with a salt paste in our TV segment here.

For topical exposures, your veterinarian may recommend bathing in lukewarm water with a mild dish soap before bringing your dog in for treatment.  That’s why it is so important to get in touch with a vet as soon as you suspect anything.

Poison vs. Toxin

Poison and toxin are terms commonly used interchangeably but do have slightly different meanings. A toxic substance is anything that causes abnormal body function. This includes overdoses of medications as well as poisonous substances. A poison is a substance that can result in abnormal body function and has no medical use.

Top chemicals and other products to keep away from your dog

  1. Coolant
    This product actually has a sweet taste which dogs love and the digestion of event a teaspoon full can be fatal.
  2. Mouse and Rat Baits
    There are several ingredients in mouse and rat bait products that are toxic. The most common one causes bleeding disorders that can be fatal.
  3. Dog & Human medications
    Accidental access to pet and/or human medications is a common cause of poisoning in dogs. Ibuprofen is one that is often ingested by dogs due to its sugary coating. Early identification and treatment can save your dog’s life if caught quickly, so call your Vet as soon as possible if you suspect an overdose.
  4. Insecticides
    Please don’t try to treat your pets fleas or ticks with anything unless it is approved by your veterinarian. This is also a common way to poison your dog.

Other things to look out for include Christmas food & mushrooms in the backyard, these too can often cause poisoning in dogs.

Most common symptoms from poisoning

  • Lethargy or sluggishness
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stumbling or staggering
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Seizure

Keep an eye on your household cleaning & bathroom products 

These types of products can potentially be harmful to your pets due to the chemicals used in many common household cleaning products, so it’s important to store them in safe places. This means in places that are high & places that are secure. Poisoning often occurs in dogs accidentally when we leave something out or if it spills, so keep this in your mind when doing your next clean.

To be absolutely sure though, why not make a healthy change for yourselves and your pets to natural cleaning products?  The fact is many of our household cleaning chemicals such as bleach and other cleaners only hide the mould and other stains we are seeking to remove by bleaching them…rather than actually removing the bacteria.  This is something many people still do not realise and are exposing themselves and their pets to dangerous chemicals unnecessarily when a natural alternative can do the same job.

Whilst we know to keep away from dangerous chemicals and toxic substances by reading labels or warning signs, our pets rely on us to keep them safe and out of harms way.

So, just like you would if you had a child in the house, remember to regularly take a look around the home and in your yard with a keen eye to see if any chemicals have been left in harms way, always keep medications up high and secure, and block off any access to areas where snail or rat bait has been used.  Doing a check around the yard for bait of any kind is important if you have just moved into a new home as well.

And, if in doubt, always ring a vet or emergency clinic at the first sign of your dog displaying any of the symptoms mentioned above.  It may just save their life!

 


About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog training and minding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.