Health Topics

Poisoning

Most poisonings are the result of accidents, overdose, unusual reactions, carelessness or ignorance, but some are malicious!

There are several categories of poisons:

  • Medicines, e.g. sedatives, painkillers, heart tablets etc.
  • Pesticides, e.g. weed killer, slug pellets, snail bait, certain flea treatments (e.g. those containing organophosphates) etc.
  • Household chemicals, e.g. rat / mouse poison, antifreeze etc.
  • Plants, not often seen, e.g. deadly nightshade, kale, rape, white bryony, cherry laurel, ergot, hemlock, dumb cane, foxglove, egg plant, horsetails, St John’s wort, rhododendron, laburnum, linseed, dog’s mercury, oak, philodendron, bracken fern, ragwort, rhubarb, spurge laurel, sugar beet, black bryony, yew, tomato, tobacco, winter cherry, woody nightshade and possibly others.
  • Insect stings, e.g. wasps, bee’s etc.
  • Snake bites, e.g. adders.

Prevention of further absorption of the poison can be achieved in several ways:

  1. Removing the source, e.g. by washing the dog’s coat if the poison is on the animal, putting on an Elizabethan collar or a bandage or a T-shirt.
  2. Induce vomiting, e.g. by using washing soda or ordinary kitchen salt directly in the mouth or on the back of the tongue. BUT: do NOT use this method if the poison could have been something corrosive or a sedative, when the dog is fitting or when it was more than four hours ago that the dog was poisoned!!!
  3. Gastric lavage: this can only be done by your vet. It means washing out of the stomach through a stomach tube.
  4. Prevention of absorption through the stomach or intestinal wall, e.g. through the use of activated charcoal or by giving a laxative.

In many cases it is unknown what poison has been taken and therefore the dog will often be treated symptomatically, which means the vet will look at what symptoms your dog displays and treat it accordingly.