Poisoning and Toxins
Every year hundreds of thousands of pets are poisoned in the U.S. Many of these poisonings are accidental and caused by household substances or foods that may seem harmless. However, just because something is safe for human ingestion, does not mean that it is safe for our dogs to consume. Many of the most dangerous dog poisons are foods and medications we humans ingest on a daily basis. Depending on how much of a particular substance was ingested or what the substance was, effects on a dog may include gastrointestinal and neurological problems, cardiac and respiratory distress, coma, and even death. If your dog’s skin is exposed to hazardous materials, follow the instructions on the product’s label for treating accidental exposure. If your dog’s eyes are exposed to a hazardous material, be sure to follow any at-home decontamination treatment with a call to the vet – just to be on the safe side. List of common foods dogs should NOT consume:
- Apple Seeds
- Candy, Chewing Gum, Toothpaste & Mouthwash
- Cat Food
- Coffee, Tea & Other Caffeine
- Cooked Bones
- Corn On The Cob
- Fat Trimmings
- Grapes & Raisins
- Human Vitamins
- Macadamia Nuts
- Milk & Dairy Products
- Onions & Chives
- Persimmon, Peaches & Plum Pits
- Raw Meat & Fish
- Rhubarb & Tomato Leaves
If it is discovered that your dog has consumed a toxic household product or food, first call your vet. Make sure to gather any remaining scraps of the substance your dog consumed but did not yet eat to bring with you to the vet’s office if necessary. It is good practice and handy to keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on hand with a dog in the household. If you discover that your dog has consumed toxins, such as dark chocolate, be prepared to force your dog to consume hydrogen peroxide and induce vomiting.
- Keep your pet away from any objects (including furniture) that might hurt it. Do not try to restrain the pet.
- Time the seizure (they usually last 2-3 minutes).
- After the seizure has stopped, keep your pet as warm and quiet as possible and contact your veterinarian.
- Muzzle your pet.
- Gently lay your pet on a flat surface for support.
- While transporting your injured pet to a veterinarian, use a stretcher (you can use a board or other firm surface as a stretcher, or use a throw rug or blanket as a sling). If possible, secure the pet to the stretcher (make sure you don’t put pressure on the injured area or the animal’s chest) for transport—this may be as simple as wrapping a blanket around them.
- You can attempt to set the fracture with a homemade splint, but remember that a badly-placed splint may cause more harm than good. If in doubt, it is always best to leave the bandaging and splinting to a veterinarian.
- Never leave your pet in the car on warm days. The temperature inside a car can rise very quickly to dangerous levels, even on milder days. Pets can succumb to heatstroke very easily and must be treated very quickly to give them the best chance of survival.
- If you cannot immediately get your pet to a veterinarian, move it to a shaded area and out of direct sunlight.
- Place a cool or cold, wet towel around its neck and head (do not cover your pet’s eyes, nose or mouth).
- Remove the towel, wring it out, and rewet it and rewrap it every few minutes as you cool the animal.
- Pour or use a hose to keep water running over the animal’s body (especially the abdomen and between the hind legs), and use your hands to massage its legs and sweep the water away as it absorbs the body heat.
- Transport the pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Symptoms: weak pulse, shallow breathing, nervousness, dazed eyes.
- Usually follows severe injury or extreme fright.
- Keep animal restrained, warm and quiet.
- If the animal is unconscious, keep head level with the rest of the body.
- Transport the pet immediately to a veterinarian.
If Your Dog Is Not Breathing
- Stay calm
- If possible, have another person call the veterinarian while you help your pet.
- Check to see if your pet is unconscious.
- Open your pet’s airway by gently grasping its tongue and pulling it forward (out of the mouth) until it is flat. Check the animal’s throat to see if there are any foreign objects blocking the airway (see the section above on Choking)
- Perform rescue breathing by closing your pet’s mouth (hold it closed with your hand) and breathing with your mouth directly into its nose until you see the animal’s chest expand. Once the chest expands, continue the rescue breathing once every 4 or 5 seconds.
IF YOUR PET HAS NO HEARTBEAT
Do not begin chest compressions until you’ve secured an airway and started rescue breathing, see above, What to do if your pet is not breathing.
- Gently lay your pet on its right side on a firm surface. The heart is located in the lower half of the chest on the left side, just behind the elbow of the front left leg. Place one hand underneath the pet’s chest for support and place the other hand over the heart.
- For dogs, press down gently on your pet’s heart about one inch for medium-sized dogs; press harder for larger animals and with less force for smaller animals.
- To massage the hearts of cats and other tiny pets, cradle your hand around the animal’s chest so your thumb is on the left side of the chest and your fingers are on the right side of the chest, and compress the chest by squeezing it between your thumb and fingers.
- Press down 80-120 times per minute for larger animals and 100-150 times per minute for smaller ones.
- Don’t perform rescue breathing and chest compressions at the same exact time; alternate the chest compressions with the rescue breaths, or work as a team with another person so one person performs chest compressions for 4-5 seconds and stops long enough to allow the other person to give one rescue breath.
- Continue until you can hear a heartbeat and your pet is breathing regularly, or you have arrived at the veterinary clinic and they can take over the resuscitation attempts.
Please remember that your pet’s likelihood of surviving with resuscitation is very low. However, in an emergency, it may be your pet’s only chance of survival. Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until it receives veterinary treatment.