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11 Signs of Poisoning in Dogs

When you consider the multitude of things that are poisonous for dogs, it’s amazing there aren’t huge lineups at the veterinarian clinic.

Dogs just don’t care what they eat and some dogs are worse than others. No matter how careful you are, it just takes that one time for your dog to end up in trouble.

Signs of Poisoning in Dogs

It’s important to understand the signs of poisoning so that you can react quickly, especially if you don’t know what your dog ingested.  Many things considered toxic in dogs will cause temporary sickness but are not necessarily lethal.

Other things, like antifreeze poisoning/rat poisoning, are serious matters that could prove deadly.

The following list is not exhaustive, and is designed as a guideline only. Any odd behavior that isn’t typical for your dog should be investigated as soon as possible.

There are a number of variables that contribute to signs of poisoning in dogs dependent on age, overall health, amount ingested, and how much time has passed since the dog ingested the poison.

1. Dog is Acting Drunk and Staggering

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Antifreeze
  • Anti-diabetes Medications
  • Rat Poison – signs occur 1 to 4 days after ingested by dog
  • Bromethalin (one type of rat poison)

2. Dog is Extremely Over-Excited

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Poinsettia Plant
  • Chocolate/Cocoa
  • Amaryllis
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Periwinkle (hallucinations)
  • English Ivy

3. Dog is Unsteady on his Legs

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Rat Poison
  • Oleander
  • Star of Bethlehem plant
  • Antifreeze
  • Anti-diabetes medications
  • Rat Poison

4. Dog is Vomiting

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Fertilizer
  • Antidepressants
  • Daffodils (primarily the bulbs)  Also causes diarrhea
  • Baby’s Breath Plant
  • Tulips
  • Yarrow
  • Burning Bush
  • Yew
  • Arrowhead Plant
  • Kafir Lilly
  • Eucalyptus
  • Gardenia
  • Geranium
  • English Ivy
  • Begonia

5. Dog is Peeing Way Too Much or Not At All

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Vitamin D
  • Ibuprofen
  • household cleaners
  • rat poison

6. Dog has Uncontrollable Diarrhea

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Daffodils (can also cause vomiting)
  • Acorn Poisoning
  • Aloe Vera Plant
  • Baby’s Breath Plant
  • Mistletoe – can also cause vomiting and is often fatal to puppies
  • Asparagus Fern
  • English Ivy
  • Gardenia
  • Cyclamen
  • Arrowhead Plant
  • Calla Lilly

7. Dog’s Heart is Racing Furiously

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • ADHD Medications
  • Over-The-Counter Cold Medications
  • Slug Bait – can be fatal and there is no antidote
  • Onions
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • CyclamenArrow

8. Dog Appears Depressed and Uninterested in Anything

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Antidepressants
  • Acorn Poisoning – dog might be in pain, have a blockage and is unable to eat.
  • Bergamot Orange
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Arrowhead Plant
  • Wisteria

9. Dog is Suddenly Very Weak

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Lead – chronic symptoms over time including vomiting, abdominal pain, anorexia and diarrhea
  • Xylitol  – sweetener
  • Zinc
  • Ethanol from household Products including dyes, inks, disinfectants, perfumes, gas, etc.
  • Grapes
  • Raisins

10. Dog Suddenly Goes Into Seizures

Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Muscle Relaxants
  • Insecticides – also causes vomiting and diarrhea
  • Plant:  Lilly of the Valley (can also cause problems breathing
  • Human Medications including Fluorouracil, Ivermectin, antibiotics, Isoniazid, Ibuprofen, amphetamie
  • Mushrooms
  • Sago Palm
  • Chocolate


Possible Toxins Ingested:

  • Plant: Lilly of the Valley (can also cause
  • Rat Poison (Bromethalin)
  • Excessive Salt poisoning
  • Cardiac Medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Yew Plant

A Few Important Notes:

As stated above, the list of symptoms is not exhaustive. The predominant symptoms are listed but some toxins produce a number of symptoms that might not be listed here.

In any situation where your dog is behaving unusually, get him/her to the vet.

Things to Have on Hand:

Always have the following items on hand or nearby so that you can access them in an emergency situation:

  • Vet’s phone number
  • Poison control number
  • Dog’s weight
  • Dog’s breed
  • Dog’s age
  • Any underlying health conditions you are aware of

It’s important to stay calm, although I’m sure I would go out of my mind in that situation. Knowing that you have all of the important information already gathered will give you some peace of mind.

And Finally…It’s Not Always As Bad As You Think!

With the exception of potentially FATAL toxins like ANTIFREEZE and RAT POISON, there are many other things including plants and food items that might cause mild stomach upset in some dogs, and no symptoms at all in others.

Reactions can vary wildly depending on the size of the dog and the amount ingested. As a measure of reassurance, my two dogs (both weigh about 70 pounds) have accidentally ingested small bits of potato, chocolate, a grape, a mouse (dead), and a lot of other things. No reaction at all.

Again, the exception here would be anything like pesticides, household cleaners, antifreeze, and rat poison. 

That’s not to say it isn’t serious. Try not to panic.  For something like rat poisoning, you might not know what type of product it was.  If it’s something you think happened at your house, and you have a container of rat poison, bring it with you to the veterinarian. 

The type of product makes a difference in the outcome for the dog and the way in which the dog is treated.

At the end of the day, trust your instinct and most importantly, trust the veterinarian.

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