Poisoning in Dogs and Cats

Date Published: 12/31/1994
Date Reviewed/Revised: 04/01/2020

Poisoning is a condition that results from the ingestion, inhalation, absorption, injection, or application of a substance that causes structural damage or functional disturbance of body tissues. The poison can be a plant, a medication given in excess, a cleaning product, or other household chemicals.

What to Do

  • Try to get in touch with a veterinarian or a poison control center, and follow their instructions. If you do not have a local poison control center, you can call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at  (855) 764-7661 (a consultation fee may be applied to your credit card).

  • If you can't get in touch with either one and the poisoning occurred within the last 3 hours, consider inducing vomiting. Do not induce vomiting if your pet is unconscious, seizing, not able to stand, or is having trouble breathing. Also do not induce vomiting if the poison is a petroleum product, a cleaning solution, or a strong acid or alkali. 

  • If the product is a petroleum product, cleaning solution, strong acid, or strong alkali, if the substance was ingested more than 3 hours ago, or if your pet is unconscious, not able to stand, or is having trouble breathing, you must get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

  • If the pet vomits, save a sample of the vomitus for later inspection by the veterinarian. You can carry it in a ziplock bag.

  • Read about chemical injuries if a chemical has injured your pet.

What NOT to Do

  • Do not give any liquid (other than 3% hydrogen peroxide if you’re inducing vomiting): liquids may move the poison into the body sooner.

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