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Help! My Dog Ate _______! What Do I Do?

        
          

Dogs explore the world with their noses and mouths, which sometimes means they eat things they should not.  Here, a comprehensive list of common items that are frequently ingested by dogs, as well as what to do in each instance will be discussed.

My Dog Drank Alcohol

Dogs have a significantly lower body weight than humans and a vastly different metabolism, so even small amounts of alcohol can cause problems in your pet.  Lower-alcohol beverages, such as beer, are less likely to cause harm in your dog; however, hard liquor can be fatal even in small amounts.  Also note that certain pet products like dental sprays can contain a high amount of alcohol (listed as ethyl alcohol), which can become toxic if used in large quantities.  If your dog is experiencing signs of alcohol poisoning, such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, difficulty breathing, or coma you should call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888-426-4435) or your veterinarian as soon as possible.

My Dog Drank Antifreeze

Antifreeze can be tempting for dogs to consume because it is has a sweet taste and odor.  However, quantities as small as 3 ounces can kill a medium sized dog.  Ethylene glycol is the toxic ingredient found in antifreeze, which can cause symptoms such as drunken behavior, lack of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, seizures, fainting, and coma.  If you suspect your dog has consumed antifreeze, call the poison control hotline or take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.  If you are certain that your dog consumed antifreeze within the previous two hours, induce vomiting by feeding your pet one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per five pounds of body weight.  Never induce vomiting if you are unsure what your dog ingested or if your pet is having difficulty breathing.  If antifreeze poisoning is caught in time, a veterinarian can provide 4-methylpyrazole, which is effective for treating toxicity.

My Dog Ate Avocado

Despite persistent rumors, avocado is not as toxic to dogs as previously though.  Certain species of avocado contain persin, which is especially toxic to birds and cattle.  However, dogs are unlikely to be affected.  The more dangerous aspect for dogs is the fat content, particularly for small dogs, as well as the possibility of choking or bowel obstruction from the avocado pit.  While your dog is unlikely to be poisoned by persin, if your pet eats a large amount of avocado you should watch for symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.  If you believe your dog is suffering from avocado poisoning, consult your veterinarian.   

My Dog Ate Coffee/Caffeine

Like alcohol, dogs are more sensitive to caffeine because of their different metabolism and lower body weight.  While a couple sips of caffeinated drinks are unlikely to cause serious problems for your dog, concentrated sources of caffeine such as caffeinated pills, energy drinks, tea bags, and coffee grounds have serious consequences for pets.  Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, abnormal heart rate, tremors, seizures, and collapse.  If you suspect your dog has consumed a toxic dose (i.e. near 70 mg per 1 lb of body weight), call the pet poison hotline or your veterinarian immediately.

My Dog Ate Chicken Bones

Many dog owners inadvertently assume that bones are safe for dogs.  However, cooked bones and poultry bones of any kind are dangerous.  Both types of treats can splinter easily, causing intestinal perforations, blockage, and death.  If you suspect your dog has consumed a cooked bone or a chicken bone, look for signs of intestinal distress such as diarrhea, constipation, lack of appetite, bloody stool, or abdominal pain.  After your dog has consumed either type of bone, little can be done other than to monitor your pet for the aforementioned symptoms.  If they occur, take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

My Dog Ate Chocolate

Perhaps the most commonly known poison is chocolate, yet this toxin is less poisonous than many dog owners realize.  Theobromine is the component in chocolate that is toxic to dogs, which causes symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, heart arrhythmias, and death.  Dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and baking chocolate are more toxic to dogs than milk chocolate or white chocolate.  The chocolate toxicity calculator is a useful tool that can inform you whether your dog is at risk of poisoning.

My Dog Ate Cleaning Products

Cleaning products can be tempting for pets, especially if they have enticing smells.  Due to the variability of ingredients in cleaning products, a pet owner should always err on the side of caution and call the pet poison hotline or veterinarian and list the ingredients from the cleaner, the approximate amount that was consumed, and the dog’s weight.  Never induce vomiting unless directed by a professional as some cleaning agents (such as bleach) can cause additional esophageal damage.

My Dog Ate A Corn Cob

Dogs will eat just about anything, including inedible items.  Corn cobs are a common item that dogs find in garbage cans and on the kitchen counter.  This dangerous “treat” typically leads to surgery due to bowel obstruction.  If your dog has ingested a corn cob, call you veterinarian as soon as possible.  When caught early, the veterinarian can induce vomiting before the corn cob enters the digestive tract.  Never induce vomiting on your own in this situation.

My Dog Ate Excessive Salt

Too much salt is dangerous for dogs because it alters their blood chemistry.  Depending on your dog’s size, even a bag of salty pretzels can damage your pet’s internal organs.  In most instances, a dog will experience excessive thirst and drink an appropriate amount of water to combat the effects of the salt.  However, if your dog does not have access to sufficient water or has consumed an excessive amount of salt, your dog’s cells will release water to fight the change in blood chemistry.  As a result, dogs can experience dizziness, coma, convulsions, headache, fever, nausea, seizures, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea – among other symptoms.  Besides salt, dogs can develop salt poisoning from homemade play dough, soy sauce, ocean water, and paintballs.  If your dog has ingested a large amount of salt or one of these items, call your veterinarian or poison control hotline.  Give the approximate amount of salt your dog has consumed, and be prepared to provide your dog’s weight.

My Dog Ate Flea/ Tick Products

Flea and tick products contain the insecticides Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid, both of which are toxic if consumed in too large of quantities.  Toxicity occurs when a dog consumes flea and tick products (such as flea collars), or an inappropriate dosage as been applied to a pet.  Toxicity symptoms include excessive drooling, vomiting, tremors, diarrhea, lethargy, disorientation, and difficulties breathing.  If your dog has consumed any flea or tick product, or if you believe you administered an inappropriate amount, contact a veterinarian.

My Dog Ate Garlic

Although garlic is often considered to be toxic for dogs, in practice there have been very few reported incidents of garlic poisoning.  However, if your dog consumes excessive amounts of garlic over a long period of time, cellular damage can occur.  Generally speaking, if your dog is a giant breed and eats a single clove of garlic, there is no need to be alarmed.  On the other hand, if your dog weighs 5 lbs and eats a bulb of garlic, you should consult your veterinarian.  Also beware that raw garlic has the potential to cause more harm than cooked garlic.

My Dog Ate Grapes / Raisins

Grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs and can cause acute kidney failure and death.  However, dogs appear to have individual reactions to grapes and raisins, and certain dogs are not as adversely affected as others.  Regardless, if your dog has consumed an appreciable amount of grapes or raisins (a single grape shouldn’t cause any harm), consult poison control or a veterinarian.  Symptoms of grape/raisin toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, dehydration, lack or urination, tremors, seizures, and coma.

My Dog Ate Heartworm Preventatives

Many heartworm pills are flavored, which makes them irresistible to dogs.  In general, the safety margins on heartworm pills allow for accidents such as these to occur, especially because heartworm preventatives provide such a low dose of insecticide to your dog.  However, if your dog is a Collie, Sheltie, or any other breed that is prone to the MDR1 mutation, you should consult a veterinarian.  If in doubt always err on the side of caution and contact a medical professional; however, rest assured that if your dog accidentally ingests a large dose of heartworm pills that are within or below your dog’s weight range, he or she is likely to be just fine.

My Dog Ate Lawn / Garden Products

Every year, dogs are accidentally poisoned by lawn and garden products such as pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, grass seed, and fertilizers.  If you use any of these products on your lawn, follow the instructions on the label and keep your pet away from the yard for the specified amount of time.  If your dog consumes a significant quantity of any of these products (i.e. consumes fertilizer straight from the bag versus eating a couple mouthfuls from the yard), seek the advice of a veterinarian.  Additionally, bear in mind that exposure to certain products, such as those containing 2,4- dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, can have long term side effects such as cancer.

My Dog Ate Macadamia Nuts

Although peanut butter is a staple in many dog owning households, not all nut products are safe for pets.  For instance, macadamia nuts can be highly dangerous for dogs.  Macadamia nut toxicity varies widely among individual dogs, with some animals more susceptible than others.  The toxic dosage is 2.4 – 62.4 grams per kilogram of body weight.  Therefore, if your dog has ingested macadamia nuts or products containing macadamia nuts, you should always call the poison control hotline or your veterinarian.  Fortunately, deaths from macadamia nut poisoning are rare, but symptoms of toxicity include lack of coordination, lethargy, vomiting, fever, weakness, and an elevated heart rate.

My Dog Ate Medication

Another common cause of poisoning in dogs is due to the consumption of over the counter or prescription medicine.  While some human medications are safe for dogs, such as Benadryl, others, such as ibuprofen, can cause very serious side effects.  If your dog has consumed any type of human medication, consult pet poison control or your veterinarian immediately.

My Dog Ate Onions

A member of the same family as garlic, onions are toxic to dogs in both cooked and raw form.  Onions contain thiosulfate, which can cause red blood cells to burst, resulting in internal bleeding and anemia.  The toxic dosage is 15 – 30 grams of onion per kilogram of a dog’s body weight, with onion powder being more dangerous than raw onions, which are more dangerous than cooked onions.  If your dog consumes onion (or foods that contain onion), contact a veterinarian or the pet poison hotline with the approximate amount of onion ingested, as well as your dog’s body weight.

My Dog Ate Plants / Flowers

While it is not unusual for most dogs to chomp on blades of grass in the yard, consuming certain flowers and plants can cause serious side effects.  The most toxic flowers and plants for dogs include lilies, tulips, sago palm, ivy, daffodils, azaleas, elephant ear, and oleander.  Symptoms range from mild irritation and diarrhea to seizures, tremors, and death.  If your dog has consumed a plant in your home or garden (even a seemingly small amount), consult the ASPCA Poisonous Plants checklist or call the pet poison control hotline / veterinarian.

My Dog Ate Poop

Dogs have a less discriminating palate than humans, and we are often mortified to see our pets gobble down the feces of another animal.  In most instances, nothing bad will happen to your dog if he or she engages in coprophagia (indeed, this problem is so common that it has a term).  However, worms, viruses, and certain diseases can be transmitted in this manner.  For instance, if a dog consumes rabbit or raccoon feces, there is an increased chance of the animal developing leptospirosis or canine distemper.  The consumption of dog feces can transmit intestinal worms, such as roundworm and hookworm, as well as viruses such as Giardia.  If your dog develops a sudden interest in the feces of other animals you should visit your veterinarian in order to rule out possible nutrition deficiencies.  Additionally, your dog should always be up to date on vaccinations and deworming in order to prevent the possibility of illness.

My Dog Ate Rat Poison

One of the top toxins for dogs is rat poison, which is why it is important to keep this dangerous item out of your dog’s reach.  However, if your dog does ingest rat poison, vomiting should be induced if the poisoning occurred within the previous two hours.  Ideally, induced vomiting should occur at a veterinary hospital, but it can be done at home in case of emergency.

Next, give your dog vitamin K in a dosage of 5 mg per kg of body weight, twice per day, for at least three weeks.

If it has been more than 2 hours since your dog has ingested the poison, but less than 12 hours, administer activated charcoal to your dog in order to prevent absorption of the poison into your dog’s bloodstream.  Be aware that many dogs do not show signs of rat poisoning for 3 – 5 days, at which point they will develop internal bleeding.  If you are unsure about the steps to follow or if your dog is showing symptoms of rat poisoning, consult your veterinarian as a plasma transfusion may be necessary.

My Dog Swallowed Socks / Underwear

When it comes to clothing items that smell like favorite humans, nothing beats socks or underwear.  However, some dogs decide they must eat these items, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems.  Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether a dog will pass the item naturally, or if surgery will be required for its removal.  If your dog has consumed the item recently (typically within 8 – 12 hours), there is a possibility it can be removed with an endoscope in a veterinarian’s office.  However, once the foreign object has passed through the stomach, veterinarians typically will wait and see if passes naturally.  If your dog develops vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea after eating a foreign object, you should consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.  Additionally, if your dog is trying to pass an item, always let this process occur naturally.  Never try and help your pet by pulling on the object while your dog is defecating, as you may cause harm to the dog’s intestines.

My Dog Ate Xylitol

Perhaps one of the deadliest toxins on this list is xylitol, which was relatively unknown until 10 – 15 years ago.  Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is found in food products labeled “sugar-free.”  Products include sugar-free gum, toothpaste, and certain peanut butter brands, among others.  While xylitol is considered safe for humans, it has a devastating effect on the canine pancreas.  When not caught in time, xylitol ingestion almost always leads to liver failure or death.  As little as 50 mg per kilogram of body weight is fatal, meaning one to two sticks of gum can kill a small dog, while an entire pack of gum for a large dog will have the same results.  If you believe your dog has consumed xylitol in any amount, contact your veterinarian or the pet poison hotline immediately.

 

 

 

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Anna Weber

Anna Weber

As a life-long dog owner and animal lover I have dedicated my adult life to rescuing and fostering dogs, particularly seniors and behaviorally at-risk animals.I believe that nearly every animal can be rehabilitated with love, kindness, training, and proper exercise.
Anna Weber

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