First Aid – Poisoning in Dogs

Vomiting, paralysis, unconsciousness, fatigue and respiratory distress are just some examples of poisoning symptoms.

This article shows you how to administer first aid, prevent poisoning and which mistakes to avoid.


The difference between a harmless substance and a toxic substance can be very small. Often it is just the dose which makes all the difference. And you cannot apply human standards to a dog as the dog’s metabolism is very different to the human one.

Therefore never administer any drugs without consulting your vet first. Aspirin may be beneficial for many people, but can be deadly to dogs. Please also consider that medicines labelled “natural” or “herbal” does not automatically imply that these substances are “harmless”.

There are substances you would not consider toxic at first glance. One of those is chocolate containing theobromine. It causes cramps, breathing problems and heart failure. Onions are also harmful. They destroy the red blood cells.

Also remember all your household chemicals for hobby, car, garden and cleaning. These products must be stored out of the reach of dogs.

First Aid

Approximately 90 % of all suspected poisonings end up not being a poisoning at all! Therefore administer any first aid with due consideration making sure your good intentions do not lead to additional complications. If you are suspecting that your dog is suffering from some form of poisoning you, as a “fist aider” are in the “fortunate” position only to have to respond to any obvious symptoms. However, also consider your own safety first. Wear gloves when touching your dog. Prevent the dog from eating any more of the poisonous substance. Rinse off contact poisons with fresh water. Please do not use any detergents and do not scrub the coat.

In case of poisonous gases, get your dog into the fresh air (ventilate the room before entering it). If the dog ate or drank a hazardous substance, offer him water (but not if the substance in question was a foaming agent such as a detergent). But do not force-feed the water. Now you can respond to the bodily symptoms which will include maintaining heartbeat and breathing.

If possible, take samples and collate information (any remaining substance, excretions, packaging).  See a vet immediately, but call ahead.

Avoid these mistakes

Under no circumstances initiate vomiting. Unfortunately this is still seen as a household remedy against poisoning. However, the inherent dangers way exceed any potential benefit.
Do not attempt to neutralise the toxic substance. You may do your dog even more harm that way.
Do not administer any milk or oil as this may even promote the absorption of the toxin by the body. We hope you and your dog will always be happy and healthy.
Call into your local store today to discuss your dog’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.