Of all household pets, dogs seem to have a particular penchant for getting up to all sorts of mischief. That includes eating things they shouldn’t!
Most people are aware that items like pest control poisons, detergents, and other chemicals are poisonous to dogs. But there are also some “human foods” that can be highly toxic, and even fatal, to our dogs.
So, keep an eye out for these 7 symptoms to see if your dog has eaten something toxic and what you should do about it.
Unsurprisingly, an upset stomach can be the first sign that your dog has eaten something toxic. But an upset stomach can encompass a variety of symptoms, including:
- Lack of appetite
- Dry heaving
If you’re concerned, try to find the source of what your dog has eaten. You might come across a bottle of bleach that has been chewed up or a chocolate bar wrapper torn to shreds.
If you can’t find a potentially toxic ingestant and the vomiting seems like a once-off, monitor your dog for further signs of vomiting, heaving, or other symptoms. If it persists, take your dog to the vet immediately.
If you’re noticing this frequently, check your dog’s diet to make sure you’re not feeding them anything that is causing the stomach upset. In this “foods that dogs can't eat” guide by fuzzyrescue.org, you may find some surprising items that your dog shouldn’t have.
Lethargy or Weakness
Lethargy or weakness means a general lack of energy in your dog. This can be really hard to spot, especially in older canines.
You can test your theory by showing your dog their favorite toys, their leash, or anything else that would usually get them excited. If you receive a less enthusiastic response than usual (or no response at all), they may be feeling under the weather.
Lethargy can be symptomatic of a serious, potentially fatal poisoning episode, such as the ingestion of antifreeze or other chemicals. If you notice that your dog is lethargic, and especially if other symptoms are present, it’s best to be on the safe side and call your vet.
Changes in Urination
Changes in your dog’s urination can mean any number of things, but it can often indicate a problem with the kidneys. This could indicate anything from a mild infection to imminent kidney failure.
Changes in urination include:
- Increased urination
- Decreased urination
- Abnormal smells, colors, or consistency of the urine
Several different toxins including chocolate, antifreeze, rat/mouse poisons can cause this symptom. All of them can be potentially fatal.
Try to monitor your dog’s frequency and quality of urination for a few hours. If you suspect something isn’t right, it’s time to take action.
Eating something toxic can have horrendous ramifications for your dog’s liver. Poisoning such as this can cause liver failure, and ultimately, death.
Common toxins that can cause liver damage in dogs include:
- Over the counter and prescription medications
- Pest control substances
- Certain types of mushrooms
It’s important to note as well that liver failure does not always come on over a number of hours. It can be sudden and acute. So if you spot changes in thirst (especially in conjunction with other physical symptoms or changes in behavior) it’s important that your dog sees a vet as soon as possible.
Convulsions or Seizures
Seizures are essentially involuntary muscle contractions that cause your dog's body to “seize” up and shake uncontrollably.
Kidney or liver failure as a result of eating something toxic can cause seizures in your dog. Common culprits include caffeine, chocolate, raisins/grapes, bleach, and other household chemicals.
If your dog experiences seizures, take them to the vet immediately. Even if poisoning is not the cause, there is likely a serious medical issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Excessive drooling or changes in saliva production can have a more sinister underlying cause. It’s a classic symptom of liver failure and can be caused by ingesting toxic substances.
Not only that, but it can actually be the case that your dog is experiencing water intoxication by drinking too much. However, this is far less likely.
If you notice excessive drooling (especially in a dog that does not generally drool), it’s best to get everything checked out.
All dogs pant. It’s a natural body temperature regulator, much like the way humans perspire to cool themselves down.
However, excessive panting and other changes in your dog’s breathing could mean that they have eaten something poisonous.
Excessive panting can indicate that the dog has eaten something toxic such as raisins, chocolate, slug pellets, etc. Difficulty breathing can also be a sign that they have eaten something such as a household chemical like certain types of rat poison.
If your dog is in a cool space and is well-hydrated but still experiencing heavy panting or difficulty breathing that does not stop, call your vet and ask for their advice.
Vigilance is Key...
Whichever symptoms you spot in your dog, the key is to be vigilant and notice what else might be going on with them. If you feel uneasy, it’s always best to have a vet check them over. And remember - keep dangerous substances safely out of reach!