Don’t Poison Your Dog!

Obviously you are not going to poison your dog on purpose, but did you know that some very common ‘people foods’ can be toxic for dogs, as well as the better known household chemicals that are poisonous to humans as well as animals? Keeping these items away from your prying pooch is absolutely vital as in some cases, ingestion of a certain substance can prove to be fatal. And we are not just talking about food or chemicals either, some house plants are even toxic in small amounts so it really pays to be read up on this subject. Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of the most common and well known food stuffs, chemicals, drugs and plants that are toxic to dogs.


Anti-depressants are known to cause vomiting and can cause in more severe cases a sympton called ‘serotonin syndrome’. This is a potentially fatal condition that increases the body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure of your dog, causing seizures and even death.

Automotive and household chemicals are very dangerous substances and should be locked away where pets cannot access them. All substances that contain antifreeze, solvents or pool chemicals are poisonous to pets. Known symptoms will be stomach disorders, lethargy, and chemical burns. Various cleaning, washing and bleaching agents can also cause poisoning and respiratory problems.

Avocado is dangerous if fed in large amounts. There is a substance called “persin” in this fruit which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets.

Chocolate is particularly toxic to dogs as it contains theobromine, which is a diuretic. Your dog will show symptoms of being very thirsty and urinate a lot – vomiting and diarrhea are typical symptoms as well. But theobromine is also a cardiac stimulant so it could increase your dog’s heart rate or cause irregular heart beats.

Domestic plants can be harmful to pets. The most toxic plants are azaleas and rhododendrons (during the flowering these plants contain toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coma and possibly death); tulips and daffodils (the bulbs of these plants can cause serious stomach problems, cramps, and damage to the heart); sago palm (a few seeds may be enough to cause vomiting, seizures and liver failure).

Fertilizers which are made up of dried blood, poultry manure and bone meal, unfortunately are very attractive for pets to eat but can be toxic for them if consumed.

Fleas and tick medications are notoriously dangerous. The problem is that it’s very easy for a dog to be inadvertently poisoned by these substances as a pet can accidentally swallow the medication, or an overdose can occur (this is especially the matter for small pets).

Grapes and raisins are also deemed to be unsafe. Vets are not sure why, but apparently the fruits can cause kidney failure in dogs. Even small amounts can cause problems.

Nuts are known to be toxic to dogs, especially macadamia nuts, which are one of the most toxic nuts for dogs followed by walnuts and almonds, especially bitter almonds. If a dog eats these nuts then they develop tremors and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. And sometimes there is pain or swelling when you manipulate the limb or touch this area.

Onions are not good for dogs as they contain the toxic ingredient ‘thiosulphate’ that causes a problem. Your dog may start vomiting and have bouts of diarrhea and will become tired and lethargic. They may actually develop haemolytic anemia, which is when the red blood cells burst within the body.

Over-the-counter or prescription medications for people are obviously dangerous if consumed by your dog. Even small doses of narcotic drugs, which are okay for people, can have the opposite effect on your animals. Some of the most common and harmful drugs for dogs include non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications, which can lead to stomach and intestinal ulcers, or kidney failure.

Wine, Beer or other Alcoholic Beverages are not meant for dogs as their liver cannot process alcohol as we can so beware of alcohol poisoning, which can cause liver failure and even death.

Xylitol which is a sweetener and can be found in many foods, including chewing gum and candy, causes a rapid drop of sugar in blood, which leads to weakness and cramps. It can cause liver failure in some dogs as well.

The majority of the above substances are for human consumption only, so it makes sense to get into the habit of only feeding your dog food especially bought and prepared for him/her. You may find that by having a well stocked first aid kit for pets, with the telephone number of your local vets, in an easy to access place sets your mind at rest. Particularly if you are away and someone else is looking after your dog for you. In any event that you suspect your dog has been poisoned, call your emergency vet and try and find the substance they have consumed, so that you can inform them when they arrive.

Useful Numbers:

USA – ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (888) 426-4435

UK – RSPCA – to report a mistreated, neglected, injured or distressed animal, or you can call the 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

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