Poisoning in Dogs & Cats: What to Avoid & How to Help

dogs sat at kitchen table

It's a sunny afternoon, and your beloved dog or cat is exploring the backyard, or perhaps they've snuck into the kitchen in search of a tasty treat. Suddenly, you realise that there are hidden dangers lurking all around your home and that innocent-looking bite of chocolate or that innocent-looking plant your pet decided to nibble on could spell trouble. But before panic sets in, take a deep breath. This comprehensive guide is here to empower you with the knowledge you need to protect your beloved companions. From the common household poisons to the telltale signs of trouble, we'll equip you with the tools to keep your pets safe and sound. 


When it comes to our pets, there's nothing more important than keeping them safe and healthy. But did you know that our homes can hide potential dangers that may pose a serious risk to our pets? In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the world of poisoning in dogs and cats, covering common household hazards, such as chocolate, certain plants, and pesticides. We'll also dive into the top 5 poisonous substances to avoid and equip you with the knowledge to recognise the symptoms of poisoning in cats and dogs alike. Rest assured; we'll not only inform you but also guide you on how to take action to protect your four-legged companions. 


The dangers of poisoning are real, but so is the love and care we have for our pets. As a responsible pet owner, they rely on you to protect them. Understanding the risks and knowing how to respond can make all the difference. 

 dog leaning on kitchen counter

Common Household Poisons for Pets



Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are both toxic to dogs and cats. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are particularly dangerous. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhoea, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate. 


Certain Plants

Many common household plants, like lilies, poinsettias, and philodendrons, can be toxic to pets if ingested. Symptoms of poisoning in cats and dogs may vary but can include drooling, lethargy, and digestive issues. 



Insecticides and rodenticides often contain toxic chemicals. Keep these substances well out of reach of your pets. Signs of poisoning in dogs and cats may include tremors, seizures, or difficulty breathing. 

 yellow lab dog lying on floor

Top 5 Poisonous Substances to Avoid 



This artificial sweetener can be found in sugar-free gum, mints, and some peanut butter brands. Even a small amount can lead to a rapid release of insulin in dogs, causing low blood sugar and seizures. This is why we created our 100% Natural Peanut Butter, perfect for dogs to enjoy safely and happily. 


Grapes and Raisins


While the exact toxic component is unknown, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy are early signs of ingestion. 


Onions and Leeks 

Vegetables like onions and leeks are from a group of plants called alliums, which can be toxic to your pet. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea and a reduced appetite. Alliums contain toxins called disulphides and thiosulfinates which can damage red blood cells, causing anaemia.



Alcohol affects pets more intensely than humans due to their smaller size. Even small amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and central nervous system depression. 


Ibuprofen and Other NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause severe stomach and intestinal ulcers in pets. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, and black, tarry stools. 

 dog staring up to kitchen side

Recognising the Signs of Poisoning in Dogs & Cats

It's crucial to know the symptoms of poisoning, as early intervention can be lifesaving. Look out for the following signs: 


  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Drooling 
  • Tremors or seizures 
  • Rapid breathing or panting 
  • Lethargy 
  • Weakness 
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Pale gums 
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and gums) 
  • Difficulty breathing 


Taking Action

If you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous, time is of the essence. Here's what you can do: 


Contact Your Vet

Call your veterinarian or an emergency pet poison hotline immediately (Animal Poison Hotline). They can provide guidance based on the type of poison and your pet's condition. 


Collect Evidence

If possible, gather any packaging or remnants of the poisonous substance to share with the vet. 


Do Not Induce Vomiting

In some cases, inducing vomiting can worsen the situation, so it's best to wait for professional advice. 


Keep Your Pet Calm 

Try to keep your pet as calm and still as possible to prevent further absorption of the toxin. 


Prevent Future Incidents 

Once your pet is on the road to recovery, take steps to pet-proof your home and garden. Store dangerous substances out of reach and educate yourself on pet-safe alternatives. 


By following these steps, you can ensure that you're doing everything in your power to help your pet in a time of need. Remember that time is of the essence when it comes to pet poisoning, so swift action and professional guidance are your best allies. 

 beagle dog digging in kitchen cupboards

In Conclusion

In the world of pet ownership, knowledge is your most potent armour against the hidden dangers that lurk in your home. By understanding common household dangers, recognising the signs of poisoning, and knowing how to act in an emergency, you become a vigilant guardian of your pets' safety and well-being. 

As a pet owner, your commitment to your pet is unwavering. You cherish the joy, love, and companionship they bring to your life. It's your responsibility to protect them from potential threats, and this guide equips you with the tools to do just that. 


So, the next time your dog or cat curiously explores a new plant or eyes a tempting piece of chocolate, you can confidently ensure their safety and happiness. Your pets trust you to keep them out of harm's way, and with the information and guidance provided in this article, you'll do just that. 


Contact Us 

For further helpful advice for pet health, visit our pet advice blog where you can learn about our ingredients, or contact us with any questions. Our friendly customer care team will be happy to help.
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My dog loves eating the green foliage of lots of wild plants growing in the countryside when we are on our walks through the fields and woodlands. I have to keep my eyes on my boy 100% of the time because he eats what he wants to and three times it has been Dogs Mercury, a very poisonous plant, hence the name, mercury being poisonous. Within thirty minutes of munching up some leaves, my boy has vomited lots of his last meal and thankfully most if not all of the Dogs Mercury foliage. I understand it can be fatal if lots of the plant are eaten. I don’t like to use a muzzle on him, but should this love of the plant continue, I may have to take these steps. Perhaps you could publish a poisonous wild plant guide so owners are aware of the plants not to be eaten by their doggies. Vigilance is very important and eyes at the back and sides of ones head are necessary also.

Anthony Welwig

Very useful I formation. Thank you.


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