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Health Hazards for your dog


Getting a dog is like bringing home a baby. We have to take a hard look at our living space to make sure that there are no hidden dangers for our new arrival. In fact, many of the items that we commonly use in or around our house are potential health hazards for dogs. These hazards range from electrical cords to small items (swallow) and poisonous substances. To prevent your dog from accidentally poisoning itself, you first need to learn what substances are actually poisonous for your dog and how to keep those substances out of reach. If your dog ingested something poisonous, the most important thing for you to do is to stay calm. Only a calm mind can determine the best course of action. The table below provides an overview of some of the common substances that are harmful to dogs. This list is not all-inclusive!



Andy in 2011

IMPORTANT: If you think your dog ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also contact the Animal Poison Control Center which can be reached at 1-800-548-2423 or 1-888-426-4435. Expect a short wait before you are connected to an operator. There is a fee of $60 (as of May 2008) for this service. I have used them after Andy chewed on a pack of ant bait and they were very knowledgeable and helpful.


You should have your credit card handy, and if your dog ingested something toxic such a cleaner, snail bait etc., have the packaging material ready so you can provide the label information if requested.


Acids Glue
Adhesives Isopropanol
Alkalis Insulin
Amphetamines Lead
Antidandruff shampoos Ivermectin
Antidepressants Mercury
Antifreeze Limonene
Antihistamines Methanol
Antipsychotics Metaldehyde
Arsenic Naphtaldehyde
Atropine Narcotic analgesics
Barbiturates PCP
Benzodiazepines Petroleum distillates
Bleach Phenols
Borates Phenylpropanolamine
Bromethalin Pine oil
Camphor Propranolol
Chlorinated hydrocarbons Pyrethrins
Chocolate Rat poison
Cholecalciferol Snail bait
Coal tar Strychnine
Cocaine THC
Creosote Terbutaline
DEET Xanthines
Detergents Yard chemicals
Drain cleaners Zinc oxide
Ethanol 1080
Ethylene glycol 2,4D
Ibuprofen 4-animopyridine
Flea products 5-fluorouracil



This list is not all inclusive! There are many common household products that are poisonous to dogs. You should always assume that anything that is poisonous to people is also poisonous to dogs.


Acids and Alkalis

These chemical substances can be found in many products ranging from batteries and cleaning products to dye removers and dishwasher soap. Depending on concentration, ingestion can cause anything from a simple diarrhea to a painful death within hours.


Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol)

Antifreeze is very toxic, it causes your dog's kidney to fail. As little as a single tea spoon can make a small dog very sick or even kill it. What makes it especially dangerous is its sweet smell and taste that makes it appealing to dogs.



Many herbicides and pesticides contain arsenic, a substance that is very toxic to dogs and often causes death if not immediately treated. Dogs can poison themselves just by drinking water or eating plant material that has been contaminated with these pesticides.



A chocolate bar can be enough to make a small dog extremely ill or even kill it. Chocolate contains the chemical stimulant theobromine which can not be metabolized by dogs. If your dog eats chocolate, the theobromine can remain in its bloodstreams for up to 24 hours. The result is a fast heart rate, hallucinations, severe diarrhea, epileptic seizures, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and eventually even death. Due to its high coca content, baker's chocolate is the most dangerous.



Never allow your dog to ingest over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Motrin, Advil or Aleve) as they contain Ibuprofen/Naproxen, an anti-inflammatory drug that is very toxic to dogs even in low doses. Both Ibuprofen and Naproxen damage your dog's liver, kidney and they can cause severe to even fatal stomach ulcers. Never give human medications to a dog without the direction of a veterinarian.


Flea and Tick Products

There have reportedly been numerous cases where dogs showed allergic reactions against flea and tick products. Such reactions can range from loss of appetite to seizures or muscle tremors. This relatively small risk however is outweigh by the advantages of using these products, because fleas and ticks can spread diseases and parasites that could be fatal for a dog (i.e. Lyme disease).



Dogs like to chew on all kinds of things, and these things (i.e. old linoleum, caulking, plaster, painted wood) may contain lead. The recent recall of lead contaminated toys manufactured in China is a grim reminder that this is not quite a thing of the past. Lead poisoning can cause diarrhea, vomiting weakness, and in severe cases, even seizures and blindness.


Rat and Mouse Poison

What makes rat poison appealing to rats and mice is its smell and taste... and that's why it intrigues dogs as well. The chemical substance in rat poison interferes with your dogs ability to make Vitamin K which is essential in causing its blood to clot. Without this vitamin, your dog would internally bleed to death. Because the symptoms from rat poison take several days to appear (such as bruises, nosebleeds, bloody vomit or bloody feces), it is essential that you seek immediate emergency care if you suspect that your dog may have eaten this poison.


Snail Bait

Slug and snail bait contains a sugary, tasty base that attracts not only to slugs but also to dogs. The chemical ingredient of snail bait is methaldehyde which causes muscle tremors, increased heart rate and seizures. As little as a teaspoon of it can make a 20 lbs dog very sick. The German shepherd of a friend of mine died after ingesting snail bait.



Strychnine poisoning in dogs occurs usually from ingestion of baits designed for use against rodents. Even five grams of commonly available strychnine based rodent bait would be enough to kill a 40 lbs dog. As with rat poison, it is essential that you seek immediate emergency care if you suspect that your dog may have ingested this poison.


Yard Chemicals

Always keep your cleaning supplies and yard chemicals securely locked up. Many chemicals found in pesticides and fertilizers can cause illness from ingestion, contact (i.e. nose or paws) or inhalation.


DEET (Active ingredient in OFF! insect repellant)

Because the manufacturers of commonly used mosquito repellants formulated for humans (such the widely popular OFF! spray) deem these products safe for adults and children, some dog owners assume that they are also safe to use on their pet. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If your insect repellant has DEET as the active ingredient, it is toxic for dogs. The exact mechanism of DEET toxicity is unknown, but the toxic effects primarily involve the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system (clinical signs of DEET poisoning include hyper-salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, excitation, ataxia, and seizures).