Prevention & First Aid for Ingested Poison | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

Prevention & First Aid for Ingested Poison

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
11 months ago

The world is a paradise of things to be consumed by our dogs and cats. 

That spray bottle in the kitchen, aerosol can or other containers under your cabinet can all be deadly if your dog punctures it and ingests the liquid inside. Cats mostly prefer to pounce, often on greenery, but just two petals or leaves from “true” lilies (Easter Lily, Tiger Lily, Day Lily, and Asiatic varieties) can be fatal to our feline pals!

March is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month and knowing what to do and having the necessary tools on hand can avert a minor injury or a major disaster. Keep reading to learn what steps you should take should your furry friend ingest poisons. 

Pet Size Matters in Regards to Poisoning

Size matters in regards to poisoning, whether it is ingested, absorbed, inhaled or injected under the skin! 

What could kill a Chihuahua, may have no effect on a Saint Bernard. The ability for any potentially poisonous substance to cause health issues is proportional to the animal’s body weight. Additionally, every item on a poison list may not harm every animal, but if it has made the list, a significant number of animals have had an adverse reaction to it, so erring on the side of caution is best.

The Dangers of Chocolate

Chocolate accounts for half the calls received by the Pet Poison Helpline.  The sweet treat humans have been told is good for their hearts is most poisonous to dogs, cats, and ferrets. The reason is theobromine, a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic, which can speed up the heart while pulling fluids from the body, resulting in rapid heart rate and breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death.

One ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight can be fatal to pets. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of theobromine which means the less it takes to cause problems. 

This chart may be helpful however, some pets are more sensitive and can be harmed by less than the amount provided below:

  • Milk Chocolate – 1 ounce per pound of pet’s body weight
  • Dark Chocolate – ½ ounce per pound of body weight
  • Baker’s (unsweetened) Chocolate – ¼ ounce per pound of body weight
  • Dry Cocoa Powder – 1/8 ounce (less than one teaspoon) per pound of body weight
  • Cocoa Bean Mulch – Concentration levels of theobromine can vary depending on the manufacturer.  If you suspect your pet has ingested cocoa bean mulch, seek veterinary help at once!

 Preventive Measures

Take the following steps into consideration to help keep your pets safe from ingested poisons:

  • Get down on all fours, and be proactive, making sure your pet’s environment is free of potentially hazardous substances
  • Install childproof locks on cabinet doors if you share your life with curious critters.
  • Read labels and purchase “pet-friendly” chemicals and cleaners.

Signs & Symptoms

Below is a list of symptoms to watch for if you think your pet has ingested some form of poison:

    • Slow CRT
    • Rapid or decreased heart rate
    • Difficulty breathing or heavy panting (which may also indicate pain)
    • Muscle tremors or seizures
    • Vomiting and/or diarrhea, sometimes with blood
    • Drooling or foaming
    • Pawing at the mouth
    • Redness of the skin, ears, eyes, any body part
    • Lethargy or anxiety
    • Blisters or sores on the mouth or skin where poison made contact
    • Swelling
    • Elevated or decreased heart rate, breathing or body temperature
    • Anything that is not normal for your pet!

What to do

Keep your pets safe and consider taking the following steps to get them the help they need if they have ingested any poisons:

  1. Collect the 4-1-1
    1. Type of poison, how much ingested and how long ago?
    2. Check the animal’s vital signs (temperature, heart rate, respiration, capillary refill time, gum color).
    3. What symptoms are present?
  1. React

Stay calm and call your veterinarian or poison control and do exactly as instructed. 

To induce vomiting

This may be recommended if the animal has ingested food or non-caustic toxins – ones that don’t burn.

  • With your veterinarian’s okay, give your DOG* fresh, bubbly, non-expired 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. It is possible however, that it may irritate his stomach for up to two weeks, so discuss with your vet.  Dosage is ½ – 1 teaspoon per 5 lbs. of the dog’s body weight (1-2ml/kg), or 1 Tablespoon per 15 lbs. through a needless syringe.  Once the dog has swallowed the peroxide, have him stand while giving him a vigorous belly-rub. He should vomit within 5 minutes. If he does not, you may administer a second dose, but if he still doesn’t vomit in 5-10 more minutes, proceed quickly to veterinary help.

*NEVER induce vomiting in cats.  Get to the vet at once of ingestion, and… do not induce vomiting in canines that have a history of aspiration, have congestive heart issues, are lying down or very lethargic as the potential for getting the peroxide or vomit into the lungs is increased. Be extra careful with brachycephalic breeds for this same reason.  Never induce vomiting if the dog has swallowed a sharp object, corrosive object (batteries) or hydrocarbons (gas, motor oil, kerosene)!

To dilute

If you suspect your pet has ingested a caustic substance (something that burns), or if you have no idea what he may have swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Proceed immediately to your Veterinarian while getting fluids into your pet to dilute the substance. Water or non-fat yogurt is generally best as many pets will vomit up cow’s milk.

  1. GET TO THE VET   

Take your pet to the vet and bring along a sample of vomit and poison with you if you are able to do so.

Don’t be caught unprepared when your furry kid needs you most.  Pets can also be poisoning by toxins they inhale, that are injected (i.e. insect stings) or are absorbed through their paw pads and skin.  Supervise, keep the scene safe, and also know what to do, learn Pet First Aid, just in case the worst happens.

Here at PetFirst, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets, even while under strict supervision.  PetFirst is here for every canine and cat as pet insurance can help cover unexpected vet visits.

Pet insurance provides peace of mind that if your pet gets sick or injured, you don’t have to worry about the financial aspect of your pet’s care. Make sure your pet is covered with PetFirst Pet Insurance.  We offer coverage for both dogs and cats and offer Routine Care Coverage to fit every budget.


Denise Fleck is the Pet Safety Crusader™ having personally taught more than 20,000 humans to rescue Rover or help Fluffy feel better.  Her mission is to help YOU make a difference in the life of an animal through Pet First-Aid, Senior Pet Care and Disaster Preparedness classes, her “The Pet Safety Bible,” and the dozen other books she has penned.  Learn more at

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