How to Tell if a Dog Has Been Poisoned

Antifreeze is a common cause of poisoning in dogs.
Antifreeze bottle being poured image by patrimonio designs from

Dogs are naturally curious, and just like small children, they’re likely to put anything they find into their mouths. If your dog swallows the wrong thing it can poison him, resulting in a wide range of problems depending on what he has eaten and how much of it he consumed. If you think your dog has ingested poison you should seek veterinary attention immediately, even if you aren’t positive. You should also have him checked immediately if he shows any signs of poisoning, even if you don’t know what he might have eaten. Quick action on your part can mean the difference between life and death.

Step 1

Watch your dog for signs of intestinal distress. Common signs of poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, possibly frothy or bloody. If your dog shows any of these signs for no apparent reason, you should suspect that he may have been poisoned. Many different substances that are toxic to dogs can cause these symptoms, including avocados, alcohol and common human medications.

Step 2

Observe your dog closely for neurological symptoms. Some poisons cause an unsteady gait, shaking, depression and lethargy. He may also drool excessively. Symptoms such as these frequently result from the consumption of human medications, including antidepressants, foods such as chocolate and macadamia nuts, and many plants, including tulip bulbs and azaleas.

Step 3

Check your dog for signs of a bite or sting if you suspect he may have encountered a black widow spider, brown recluse, rattlesnake, scorpion or other poisonous creature. Often you can find the location of the injury, since the area is likely to be swollen and tender. Your dog’s face, feet and legs are frequently the location for bites, since these are the places most likely to be exposed to spiders and snakes.

Step 4

Locate potential sources of poison to determine if your dog may have ingested any of them. Puddles of antifreeze under a car can be a particularly serious problem due to the sweet taste of the liquid. If you determine that your dog has been exposed to a poison such as antifreeze, seek veterinary help immediately. By the time he displays symptoms it may be too late to save him. This is also true of rodent poisons and snail bait. Never allow your dog in an area where there is any kind of vermin poison, as these substances are often very appealing to pets, especially when they are damp from rain or watering. Protect your dog by killing garden slugs and snails with dishes full of beer set in the garden instead of snail bait, and buy pet-safe antifreeze for your car.


  • Always keep all poisons out of your dog’s reach. This includes human medications, foods and poisonous plants. Place items in closed cupboards that your dog can’t paw open to investigate. If you even suspect your dog has been poisoned, contact a veterinarian immediately.


  • If you know what your dog swallowed, take the package with you to the vet. This helps her to determine the best treatment for your dog.


Photo Credits

  • Antifreeze bottle being poured image by patrimonio designs from