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

Prevention & First Aid for Ingested Poison

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
1 year ago

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

Whether it be a spray bottle in the kitchen, cleaning products under the sink, or an aerosol can under your cabinet – all can 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 Helpline6.  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. However, it is important to remember that some pets are more sensitive and can be harmed by less than the amount listed below7:

  • 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. 

  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.

Be Prepared 

Don’t be caught unprepared when your furry kid needs you the most. Pets can become poisoned by toxins they inhale, that are injected (i.e. insect stings), and that are absorbed through their paw pads and skin.

Always be sure to supervise your pet, remove potential dangers and keep the scene safe, and learn Pet First Aid just in case the worst happens.

Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses can happen to all pets, even while under strict supervision. PetFirst Pet Insurancecan help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. PetFirst Pet Insurance1  has cat and dog insurance policies2 to fit every budget. 

Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today.

1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.

2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.  

6Pet Poison Helpline: Chocolate 

7Pet Poison Helpline: Is Chocolate Poisonous to Dogs?

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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