Your Guide to Common Dog Poisonings


Potpourri. Curious dogs often find simmering potpourri pots irresistible. Not only are burns a potential problem but the potpourri is caustic. Ingesting or even licking the potpourri can result in chemical burns to the tongue, throat and esophagus. Severely burned pets may require hospitalization with feeding tubes until the wounds heal.

Pyrethrin and Permethrin Insecticides.The most common types of insecticide used to kill fleas are pyrethrins. Toxicity related to pyrethrins is usually associated with applying much more of the product than directed. Permethrin is a stronger synthetic insecticide that has a much greater potential for resulting in toxicity. Permethrin-based topical flea products are usually labeled “for use in dogs only.” Application of permethrin-based insecticide to a cat will usually result in toxic signs within 6 hours. Overdosing can cause toxic signs in both dogs and cats. Signs include drooling, lethargy, muscle tremors, vomiting and seizures. If you suspect your pet may have permethrin/pyrethrin toxicity, the most important part of home care is to bathe your pet in lukewarm water using mild dish soap. Do not use flea shampoo. Avoid hot water since that will dilate blood vessels in the skin and increase the absorption of the flea product. Once the pet is bathed, contact your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency facility immediately.

Toxicity of Common Plants in the House. Houseplants are popular additions to many rooms. Usually, plants and pets live together harmoniously, although some curious pets often venture to take a little taste. See the related article to find out about the 20 most popular houseplants and their levels of toxicity.

Plants – Fall and Winter. This link takes you to the common plants associated with the fall and winter holidays.

Plants – Spring and Summer. Springtime holidays are often associated with bulb plants and ingestion of the bulbs can cause the most severe illnesses. Summer holidays are associated with plants. This link takes you to the common plants associated with the spring and summer months.

Poison Ivy and Oak. The principal toxin in poison oak and poison ivy is urushiol, which is an oil resin found in the plant sap. Animals are quite resistant to the effects of urushiol but can transmit the toxin to a person. Dogs and cats typically come in contact with the poison ivy or poison oak plant in wooded areas. They may ingest some of the plant but, more likely, they will rub against it while walking. The sap from the plant can adhere to the hair coat. When you pet your dog or cat later, the sap can transfer from their fur to your skin. If you are susceptible to poison oak or poison ivy, skin irritation can occur. In animals, exposure to urushiol infrequently results in skin irritation.

Rat Poison. Rodenticide poisoning is the accidental ingestion of products used to kill rodents such as mice, rats and gophers. These products are common and accidental exposure is frequent. Poisoning is most commonly caused by ingestion of a product containing one of the following ingredients: bromethalin, cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), strychnine, zinc phosphide and anticoagulants (such as warfarin, fumarin, chlorophacinone, diphacinone, pindone, bromadiolone, brodaficoum). The impact on the poisoned animal varies depending on the type of poison ingested. An animal may develop a bleeding disorder, neurological problems, gastrointestinal distress or kidney failure. In some cases, rodenticide poisoning is fatal. If you suspect that your pet has ingested rat poison, call your veterinarian immediately.

Rimadyl. Rimadyl toxicity describes the symptoms of poisoning associated with the administration of Rimadyl® (carprofen), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication used for the treatment of arthritis. This drugs suppress inflammation and pain by inhibiting synthesis of the class of compounds called prostaglandins. Rimadyl® toxicity can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, liver and kidneys. If accidental ingestion has occurred, remove any remaining pills from the pet’s environment. Take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment of an overdosage of Rimadyl®. If you have been administering Rimadyl® and you note vomiting, black tarry stools, pale or yellow gums or loss of appetite, stop administering Rimadyl® and take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Smoke Inhalation. Smoke can create significant damage within the airways. Pets, as well as people, can quickly succumb to the effects of smoke inhalation. If your pet is exposed to smoke, remove him immediately from the area and provide him with access to fresh air. If oxygen is available, offer by face mask. Contact your veterinarian or local emergency facility immediately. Your pet will require additional medical treatment for a successful outcome.


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