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Has My Dog Been Poisoned


When my newly married husband and I brought home our not yet three-month-old puppy, Penny, people kept saying the same phrase: having a puppy will prepare you for one day having a child. I looked at my furry bundle of joy with love, thinking, this is going to be a piece of cake compared to children. It wasn’t long, though, until I learned my first lesson applicable to both puppy and child rearing: puppies need the house “puppy proofed.”

My same trashcan that looked chic and feminine in my newly decorated kitchen turned out to be a trough of leftover food for Penny, and it wasn’t long until Penny snuck coffee grounds from the trashcan, poisoning herself. Luckily, because I knew the steps and signs of dog poisoning I was able to treat the situation accordingly, and by the next day she was her playful and spunky self.

If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs call the Pet Poison Helpline* or your local vet immediately:

An abnormal texture, smell, or substance on their fur or near their mouth: With Penny, I was able to tell she had eaten coffee grounds because of the little black bits around her snout and mouth. Similarly, if your dog has been in a chemical substance, like a household cleaner or gasoline, the smell will strike you immediately.

A trail leading to their poisoning: Is the candy bowl that was full minutes ago not only depleted, but the little tin foil chocolate wrappers are scattered around your living room? Is your can of bleach tipped over, or is your Aspirin container opened with a few various parts of pills on the bathroom floor? Dogs often leave evidence of their crime.

Acting disoriented and abnormal compared to their usual disposition: While smells and a trail of evidence are often apparent, sometimes, like when a dog eats a poisonous plant, the evidence can be less obvious. To ensure your dog’s optimal care always pay attention to signs of unusual temperament, such as staggering, irritation, convulsions, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, and tremors are serious indicators to get your dog help: If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms they are suffering from some kind of health issue, and there is a high likelihood it could be poisoning. Like humans, a dog’s body reacts in obvious ways to poison in an effort to rid them of the harmful substance.

While your dog may not be poisoned, or may have had a small enough amount of the substance to pass it without medical assistance, never take that risk without first calling the vet or the Pet Poison Helpline. If you have a good health care provider they will give you a treatment applicable to your situation, which usually means bringing your dog to the vet. In some situations, however, they will tell you to feed your dog hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, or neutral foods like rice to calm your dog’s stomach. However, never assume these practices without first consulting the vet, as your attempted method could make the problem worse.

Within hours after Penny’s visit to the vet she was home, soaking up the extra love and the plain rice and chicken the vet prescribed. And my husband and I, who not only immediately “puppy proofed” the house, also realized another lesson that will one day become applicable to children: as much as you love your dog, sometimes outside help can better ensure the best care for the situation. When in doubt – get help.

*Pet Poison Helpline 800-213-6680 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).


  1. I think that people should also take out dog insurance for their dogs, just in case they need it one day. This is an area that some dog owners neglect.

    Thanks for sharing the symptoms with others.

  2. I also experienced the same with my dog years ago. She was a playful puppy when she came to our lives, and she soon discovered the bin. She would rummage the bin without us knowing it only to discover that she ate some expired food. It was painful to see her exhibiting unusual behavior, and we learned our lesson the hard way.

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