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Toxins and Your Dog

Substances That Can Be Poisonous to Dogs

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Your dog's world is full of new scents, sights and adventure. Along with these new experiences come plenty of dangers, too. These potential hazards are enough to make a dog owner completely paranoid. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help keep your dog healthy and safe. First, learn what substances and materials are most likely to poison your dog. Then, take measures to avoid exposure to your dog. Most important, be prepared to act appropriately if you dog does become exposed to a toxin or poison. Time is of the essence!

Hazards from Pharmaceuticals and More

Dog Toxins and Poisons - Medication Hazard for Dogs - Photo of Pills and Pill Bottle
Photo © William Thomas Cain / Getty Images
There are some human medications that are safe for dogs, but many others can be seriously harmful to your dog. Even some veterinary drugs can be toxic if not used properly. Before medicating your dog, always contact your veterinarian for instructions. An accidental overdose can prove fatal depending on the substance. Also, remember that your dog might be curious and quite crafty when it comes to opening pill bottles. Keep ALL drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements out of reach.

Poisonous Plants and Flowers

Dog Toxins and Poisons - Photo of Lilies Poisonous to Dogs
Photo © Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Many types of plants and flowers can be poisonous to your dog. Effects range from mild to severe depending on the type of plant and the quantity consumed. Some plants will only cause slight stomach upset, while others can cause seizures, coma or even death. Learn about the plants in your yard and neighborhood that are dangerous and be sure your dog does not have access to them. Ideally, toxic plants on your own property should be removed. Houseplants are a bit easier to control; simply do not keep toxic plants inside your home and you have removed the risk. If you are planning to get new plants or flowers, research them ahead of time to learn whether or not they are toxic.

Toxic and Harmful Foods

Dog Toxins and Poisons - Photo of Onions Toxic to Dogs
Photo © Sean Gallup/Getty Images
It has long been said by veterinary professionals and other dog experts that "people food" can be harmful to dogs. However, many dog owners continue to feed table scraps and other random foods to their dogs. The truth is, some foods ARE safe for dogs. Under the guidance of a veterinarian (especially a nutritionist), dogs can thrive on a homemade diet consisting of specific healthy whole foods. Some foods are considered generally unhealthy for dogs, but certain foods are downright poisonous. Learn which foods to avoid before you cook for your dog or share those leftovers. Also, be mindful of the food you throw away and how easily your dog can access the trash. It can help your dog avoid serious illness and save you a trip to the emergency room.

Dangerous Chemicals

Dog Toxins and Poisons - Photo of Chemical Cleansers Toxic to Dogs
Photo © Nichola Evans/Getty Images
Today's modern lifestyle involves the use of many chemicals. With substances such as cleaning agents, antifreeze, rodenticides, insecticides, fertilizers and much more. Potential danger looms all around. Exposure to chemicals can harm your dog in different ways. Your dog may ingest harmful chemicals, inhale toxic fumes, or come into direct skin contact with caustic substances. The best way to protect your dog is to examine your home environment. Try substituting non-hazardous, natural products for your current chemical products. For the chemical hazards you cannot eliminate, be sure to keep your dog safe from exposure.

Other Environmental Hazards

Dog Toxins and Poisons - Photo of Poisonous Snake
Photo © David McNew/Getty Images
In addition to the above toxins, there are several potential things in nature that can cause toxicity. These are often related to other creatures. Bee/wasp stings and fire ant bites can cause allergic reactions while some spider and snake bites can be highly toxic. Other environmental hazards include mushrooms and contaminated water. The key to prevention is to keep your dog in your sight at all times. Do not allow your dog to roam free and keep an eye on the area around you while walking your dog. Dogs will be dogs, and curious noses are bound to explore, but it only takes a moment for that to turn into a dangerous situation.

What to Do If Poisoning Occurs

Prevention is key. Do your best to eliminate all sources of toxicity. However, exposure to toxins is still possible. It is important to recognize the signs of toxicity and act immediately. Know when to call the vet. However, if you are in doubt, call a vet anyway. He or she can advise you on the next step, such as whether or not to induce vomiting. Try to gather as much information as possible regarding the potential poison (as time allows). Obtain the packaging from the toxin and a sample of the ingested material if available.

IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION

In case of toxin exposure, keep a list of important phone numbers in a visible, easily accessible location. Save the numbers to you sell phone as well. Be sure pet sitters and other people who might be in your home are aware of the location of the list. The following phone numbers should be included:
  1. Your primary veterinarian
  2. One or more nearby 24-hour veterinary emergency clinics
  3. ASPCA Poison Control: (888) 426-4435 (possible fee)
  4. Pet Poison Hotline: 800-213-6680 (possible fee)
  5. An emergency contact number for you and your dog's co-owner (if applicable).
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