What To Do If Your Dog Ate Something Toxic

Did your pup get their paws on something potentially poisonous? Learn what to do if your dog ate something toxic and how to avoid it in the future.

Courtney Elliott

Updated July 01, 2024 • Published March 03, 2023

Share to

What To Do If Your Dog Ate Something Toxic

As pet parents, it can be hard to know if something your dog ate is potentially dangerous or simply nothing to worry about. While there are toxins we commonly hear about—chocolate, insecticides, and avocados, for example—there are many we don't.

When determining the toxicity of what your dog consumed, there are often other factors to consider—how much they ate, your dog's weight, and any underlying conditions they may have. We chatted with Dr. Yui Shapard, BVM&S, MRCVS and medical director at Pawp to understand exactly what to do if your dog ate something toxic.

What should I do if my dog ate something toxic?

If your dog ate something toxic that has a high risk of causing serious complications, your first step is to contact ASPCA Poison Control or the Pet Poison Helpline. A board-certified toxicologist will advise both you and your veterinarian on what needs to be done and what steps to take to treat your dog. This is a recommendation that will likely be made by your veterinary clinic as well.

In addition to calling poison control, it's extremely important to take your dog to the nearest veterinary clinic as soon as you find out they ate something toxic.

"If your pet ingested something toxic, the vet may induce vomiting and empty out the stomach contents," explains Dr. Shapard. "However, this step highly depends on the substance ingested. For example, if your dog ate raisins, then having your veterinarian induce vomiting if it was within an hour will be a simple but effective method to significantly decrease the risk of complications. But if your dog ingested something corrosive that can cause further irritation or complications in the esophageal lining, then this step will be highly unacceptable."

This is also why we do not recommend pet parents try to induce vomiting themselves—not only will this potentially cause more irritation and ulceration to the esophagus and stomach lining, but this can also cause complications that will need to be addressed by your veterinarian. Many toxins are also not simply "one and done"—even if you somehow managed to induce vomiting, the toxin may already be in their system and further treatment as well as lab work evaluation and monitoring may be needed regardless. 

What are common poisons for dogs?

Dogs are notorious for getting into many things, but some of the most common toxin ingestions seen in dogs are dark chocolate, grapes and raisins, xylitol products like sugar-free gum, rodenticide, anti-freeze, human pharmaceutical products like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, as well as excess ingestion of veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. 

What are the symptoms my dog ate something toxic?

Your dog's symptoms will highly depend on what toxin they ingested and how it affects the body system. Symptoms your dog ate something toxic include:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Lethargy

  • Hyperactivity

  • Collapse

  • Seizures

  • Weakness

  • Anorexia

  • Fever

  • Blood in stool

  • Drooling

  • Abdominal pain

  • Jaundice

  • Coma

Unfortunately, death will be the result if the toxicity is severe and it is not dealt with in a timely manner. 

Tips to help avoid toxic ingestion

Preventing your dog from eating something toxic is always better than dealing with the aftermath. Here are some quick tips for pet parents to help keep their pups out of trouble:

  • Keep medications locked away

  • Make sure that toxic foods are safely stored away and inaccessible to your dogs 

  • Read the label of products before giving it to your dog. For example, xylitol is sneaky and can be in seemingly benign products like peanut butter and snacks. Xylitol is also known as birch sugar and some food products may have it labeled this way.

  • Train your dog to stay out of the kitchen if possible

  • Teach your dog the drop it/leave it command

If your dog ate something toxic and you're not sure what to do next, the team at Pawp is here 24/7 to help guide you on next steps.

Talk to a vet now — it's free!

Text, call, or video chat with a vet within minutes.

Talk To A Vet Now