11 tips to recognize poisoning in your dog

How do I recognize poisoning in my dog?

If you suspect that your dog has eaten / inhaled something poisonous, or even better, you know for sure, you will probably (and hopefully!) visit the vet immediately. Because in situations where there is or could be poisoning, you don’t have a second to lose! The symptoms of poisoning in a dog can be very different. If you suspect (or are sure) that your dog has been poisoned, examine your dog and its environment. If you know what poisoned your dog (and if you can’t figure it out), call the vet. Again, you have no time to lose. However, the more information you can give your vet, the better. What can you do yourself to provide your vet with as much information as possible?

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Examining your dog’s body

First of all, you can medically check your dog to a certain extent. You do this by taking the following steps.

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Look in your dog’s mouth

Your dog ‘s gums should be (light) pink of ‘chewing gum color’. You can also look at your dog’s tongue. If your dog’s tongue or gums are not (light) pink, but are blue, white, purple, terracotta or extremely bright red, notify the vet immediately. It often means that something is obstructing the blood flow in your dog’s body and/or your dog is not getting enough oxygen due to heart or respiratory problems. In most cases, your dog needs urgent medical attention from a veterinarian.

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Measuring your dog’s heart rate

If your dog’s heart rate is over 180 beats per minute and there is reason to suspect poisoning, report this immediately by phone and drive to the vet. The normal heart rate of an adult dog is between 65 and 125 beats per minute. Larger dogs are usually a bit on the lower side and the heart rate of a dog sleeping is also lower than mentioned above.

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How do you measure the heart rate?

You can measure your dog’s heart rate by placing your hand on the left side of his chest behind his elbow and then feeling his heartbeat. You can count how many heartbeats you feel in 15 seconds and then multiply this number by four to get the number of heartbeats per minute.

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Measure your dog’s temperature with a thermometer

Fever does not necessarily indicate that your dog has been poisoned, but it does indicate a general ‘being sick’. For example, when your dog is excited or stressed, this can cause a falsely elevated temperature. If your dog is lethargic, behaves ill and also has an elevated temperature, and you think there is a chance that your dog has been poisoned, we advise you to contact the vet immediately! The normal temperature of a dog is between 38 and 39 degrees. Puppies have a slightly higher body temperature (about 39.5 degrees).

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How do you measure the temperature?

If possible, ask someone to help you take the temperature. One person can hold your dog’s head and support him, while the other insert the thermometer into your dog’s rectum. You’ll find it right under the tail. It is important to grease the tip of the thermometer with, for example, Vaseline, to make temperatures easier. In addition, the use of a digital thermometer is recommended.

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Is your dog displaying strange behavior?

There are other important things that can indicate a poisoning, or that can result from a poisoning in your dog. We’ll go through them with you below:

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Your dog’s balance and coordination

If your dog seems dizzy, disoriented, staggering, or can’t stand on his feet, it could indicate neurological or heart problems. These may be related to poisoning. It is always important to contact your vet (immediately) with these symptoms.

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Check if your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea

Both vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms that can perfectly indicate poisoning (don’t panic right away, diarrhea also has many other, more innocent causes). It is a sign that the dog’s body is trying to get rid of ‘something’, possibly toxic substances. When looking at your dog’s vomit or diarrhea, pay particular attention to color, smell, and firmness. This information may be of interest to your vet.

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Watch your dog’s breathing

Panting is, in general, normal for dogs. This is their way of getting rid of heat (after exercise or in hot weather in particular). When a dog is panting heavily, also seems uncomfortable and stuffy (and he hasn’t been exerting himself in particular), it could be a sign of breathing or heart problems. If you also hear “squeaks or crackles” while breathing, contact a veterinarian immediately. If your dog has inhaled something that is poisonous, it can affect the lungs. A dog’s normal breathing rate is 10 to 30 breaths per minute.

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Watch your dog’s appetite

When your dog suddenly stops eating and seems listless, even apathetic, this can also be a sign of poisoning. Especially if you as a dog owner are suspected of being poisoned and your dog shows these symptoms, contact a veterinarian immediately.

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When you go to ask for help

When you are going to ask for help from the vet, there are a few things to mention!

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Write down the symptoms

When symptoms appear in your dog that may indicate poisoning, it is useful to list all the symptoms. The more information you can give the vet, the better he can help your dog.

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Search for the source

Look for the possible source of poisoning in or around your home and yard, such as pest poisons, cleaning supplies, human medications, mushrooms, or fertilizers. Keep an eye out for spills, overturned boxes, and medicine containers, as well as sausage, dog biscuits, or other food found on the street that your dog may have eaten (and may contain poison). If you think your dog has ingested a toxic substance through a container, check the label for warning signs. Some products that contain toxic substances have a telephone number on the back of the label that you can call for advice about possible poisoning. Below is a list of poisonous substances that are regularly “consumed” by dogs:

  • wild mushrooms
  • Moldy walnuts
  • Oleander
  • Lilies and bulbs
  • Dieffenbachia
  • foxglove
  • Household cleaning products
  • snail venom
  • Pesticides
  • weed killers
  • Some fertilizers
  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes and raisins
  • yeast dough
  • Alcohol

Stay calm!

When your dog is poisoned, the symptoms (vomiting, neurological complaints, diarrhea, foaming at the mouth, drooling, being apathetic, high heart rate, reduced consciousness) can be very distressing and frightening. However, it is important to remain calm. Especially for your dog. Try to think factually and also (quickly) act, this can save your dog’s life.

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Your dog can’t live without a vet!!

When there are strong indications that your dog has been poisoned (with, but also without, all the above symptoms are present), you can’t just ‘look’ at this for a while. In case of poisoning, medical help is absolutely necessary and as soon as possible. Otherwise, your dog is (most likely) not going to make it. Unfortunately we can’t make it more beautiful than it is. So immediately contact you or a vet in case of (possible) poisoning of your dog. You have no other option in this and again, no time to lose..

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