Prevention & First Aid for Inhaled Poisons | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

Prevention & First Aid for Inhaled Poisons

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
10 months ago

Think about the last time you and your dog walked out of your front door to get the mail.

Depending on the time of day, YOU may have noticed the scent of exhaust from a car that recently passed by followed by the smell of freshly cut grass and the welcoming scent of a rose bush planted near the mailbox. That’s probably the end of your sensory journey however, YOUR DOG has likely been enjoying a virtual cornucopia of good sniffs ever since he crossed the threshold. Every squirrel, bird, and caterpillar that crossed the walkway, left their own unique calling card for his keen sniffer. 

Continuing to the mailbox, the scents of greatest interest were those of other dogs that used your mailbox post as their personal latrine! The sweet aroma of the rose was probably of less interest than the beetle who had recently crawled across its leaf.  As for those letters you pulled out of the box, well your dog could detect everyone who grabbed hold on their journey to you, and likely could tell you what the human who licked the envelope had for dinner!

A goofy tale maybe, but it demonstrates the difference between human and canine noses.  It is said that although we rarely detect the smell of sugar in our morning coffee, a dog can detect a spoonful of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool of water!  Because of that, toxic fumes can be much more deadly to our canine pals.

Inhaled Poisons

Inhaled poisons can include aerosol sprays, carbon monoxide, gases, and other fumes inhaled into your pet’s lungs.

Bleaches, detergents, and disinfectants are the most likely household chemicals to cause a problem, so be hyper-vigilant and keep pets away from these chemicals by securing them before, during, and after cleaning time. Pool/spa chemicals are also common causes of inhalation poisonings. Keep these products safely contained as well.  

Be sure to get all pets out of the home, for at least 24 hours, when any pest control is used, even if it says “safe” or “pet friendly.”  Ask for a guarantee in writing as due diligence. If a company won’t put it in writing, it may not be as safe as they claim.  Also important to note is that “Animal Safe” does not necessarily mean safe for ALL species!

If your pet inhales toxic fumes, assume that his airways are inflamed. Most inhaled poisons will cause difficulty breathing.

 Signs & Symptoms

  • Breathing difficulty or distress
  • Sneezing, coughing, irritated or runny eyes
  • Excessive salivation or vomiting
  • Twitching or seizures
  • Collapse

 What to do

If you believe your pet has been in contact with poisonous materials consider taking the following steps:

  1. Move the ailing pet to a well-ventilated area and monitor his breathing. Count the inhalations and exhalations to determine if they are in the normal range (10-30 breaths per minute for medium to large dogs; 20-40 bpm for small dogs and cats) and/or labored.  Do not return your pets to the house or contaminated room until it is well aired out!
  2. Begin rescue breathing should the pet go into pulmonary arrest by holding the mouth closed and breathing into the nostrils every 2-3 seconds; smaller, quicker puff breaths for puppies and kittens.
  3. If there is no pulse, begin CPR and get to a veterinary for help at once.  If the pet stops breathing, the heart will stop as well if he doesn’t resume spontaneous inhalations.

Don’t be caught unprepared when your pet needs you the most.  Pets can also be poisoned by toxins they ingest, toxins they absorb through their paw pads, nose or skin, and toxins that are injected under the skin (i.e. insect stings).  Supervise your pet, keep the scene safe, and know what to do in case your pet becomes poisoned. Consider learning 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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