Poisoning in dogs

Dogs by nature are inquisitive and curious. A great habit it is, when you are taking your dog out to walk. However, it works against them when they start directing this curiosity towards things that could cause a great deal of grief – to the dog and to the owner.

Poisoning in dogs is a common enough occurrence and if left untreated may be fatal. Common symptoms of dog poisoning include lethargy, bouts of sudden diarrhoea or vomiting, drooling or hypersalivating, inappetance and nausea. Other symptoms may include a racing heart rate, halitosis (“breath that smells”), pale gum, excessive thirst or urination, absence or decreased urination and black-tarry stool.

Before going to the vet, have a quick glance around the place and try to ascertain the substance that was ingested by the dog. If you can pinpoint the offending substance, it makes the job of the vet much easier and also ensures that the dog has a faster recovery. However if you are not able to find the substance, do not waste time searching for it. Take the dog to your vet who would begin by treating the symptoms. The vet would also order a blood work-up, results of which would show the cause of poisoning.

Like with poisoning in humans, the first step would be to make sure that further absorption of the toxin into the dog’s body is stopped. An antidote which counters the effects or works against the toxins is administered if the vet is sure about the cause of poisoning. Other means like the use of activated charcoal (helps in absorbing the toxin), enemas and gastric lavage (wherein the vet uses warm water to flush the system with the help of a tube) may be used when required. A diuretic may also be used in a bid to enhance the secretion of fluids through the urinary tract. When these steps turnout to be inadequate or in conditions where the vet feels that the condition is serious, a dialysis (facilitate the quick removal of the toxin from the blood and the kidneys of the dog) would be done. Over the next few hours, your vet would continue to monitor the condition of the dog.

Poisoning in dogs can be prevented by taking some precautions at home. Some of the highest number of poison cases in dogs emanate from the food at home. Chocolate, grapes and raisins, and xylitol (a sweetener) account for the most poison cases in dogs. Insecticides and rodenticides are another source of poisons for the dogs. Detergents, sprays and polishes also form a potent threat to dogs who are attracted to the colours and smells. A serious range of complications arise when dogs tend to take a fancy to medicines meant for human consumption. Topping the list among these medicines would be NSAIDs(Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), anti-depressants and acetaminophen. Some fertilizers and veterinary pain killers are another class of poisons which require special mention.

In short, take precautions and avoid poisoning. And if poisoning happens, get down to the vet in a hurry.

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