Poison and Toxicity


Poison and Toxicity

Poisoning and toxicities can happen at any time. Usually the cause of the poisoning is due to a combination of human error and mischievous pets. Toxic substances left unattended may be accidentally ingested by pets. Toxic foods left out on the counter or table will be no match to a determined pet. Plant toxicities may occur if you were unaware the plant was actually toxic, or if they are in areas of your house where they are in reach of your pet.


If you suspect that your pet is suffering from a toxicity or poisoning, contact your veterinarian or nearest emergency veterinary clinic immediately. If possible, bring a sample of the poison in its original packaging, or a portion of the partially ingested plant or food item. The Pet Poison Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-855-764-7661 (note: there is a per incident fee when you call).

Your pet may be showing some of the following signs if they are suffering from a poisoning or toxicity:


Excitability                 Excessive salivation            Lack of coordination

Shock                        Seizures                            Depression

Vomiting                    Diarrhea                            Weakness

This list of symptoms is not all inclusive, pets suffering from a poisoning or toxicity may show some, all or none of these symptoms.  Also, if your pet is showing some of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean your pet has been poisoned, there may be something else going on medically. When your pet comes  in for an exam ensure you tell the veterinarian if you suspect your pet may have gotten into something they shouldn’t have.

Treatment for a poisoning or toxicity will depend on the extent of the toxicity and what had been ingested. Some treatments for poisoning or toxicity may include:

  • Diluting the poison by starting your pet on IV fluids or giving fluids subcutaneously.

  • Removing the poison from the system by either inducing vomiting or giving oral activated charcoal to adsorb the ingested toxin.

  • Neutralizing the toxin with an appropriate antidote.

  • In extreme cases maintaining vital functions and respiration with an oxygen chamber and various medications until the toxicity is resolved and normal functioning is established may be necessary.

To prevent poisoning in your pet, always remember:

  • Read labels carefully, looking for any potential toxins.

  • Don’t let your pet roam or be unattended for extended periods of time in areas unknown to your and your pet.

  • Make sure plants that are coming into your house are safe for your pet. Don’t let your pet chew on plants that you are unsure of.

  • Store all chemicals and medications (human and animal) in their original containers in a safe place.

For an extensive list of toxins and toxic plants or for more information about toxic substances and your pet, please visit www.petpoisonhelpline.com or www.aspca.org.