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How To Know If Your Dog Has Been Poisoned

(PET CARE) Various dog jerky treats from China are being pulled off shelves as the FDA reportedly received more than 3,600 complaints of dogs and cats becoming sick, particularly gastrointestinal illnesses, since January. However, while the FDA has issued a warning for all pet food treats made in China, pet parents should be aware that pet food manufacturers are not required to list the country of origin for each ingredient used in their products.

While dogs can’t exactly tell us when they’re sick, they often exhibit non-verbal clues that can help guardians recognize signs of accidental poisoning. Some suggestions that your pet may have ingested something toxic range from the more obvious like fainting, vomiting, and seizures to lethargy, black stool, and heavy panting.

But let’s face it, we’re not all Dr. Dolittle. So for the health and safety of your beloved pet, make sure to read over these tips on how to tell if your dog has been poisoned:

sad dog looking sick, lying on ground

While dogs can’t exactly tell us when they’re sick, they often exhibit non-verbal clues that can help guardians recognize signs of accidental poisoning. Photo Credit: Mariela M. via Flickr

1. Verify the color of your dog’s gums. A dog’s gums should resemble the dog’s skin and appear pink, black, or spotted. Discolored gums can indicate serious illness.

  • Check your dog’s gums by lifting the upper lip and pressing above a canine tooth with your thumb. Release your thumb then watch for a color change where you pressed. The gum color should change from white to pink within two seconds.

2. Watch your dog’s balance. If your dog is staggering, disoriented, or dizzy, these signs might indicate dog poisoning symptoms.

Do not rely on a cold, warm, or wet dog nose to recognize poisoning in dogs. Taking the temperature is the best way to recognize poisoning in dogs.

3. Examine your dog’s bodily functions to check for irregularities. Signs that your dog has ingested something poisonous include persistent vomiting or watery, loose, yellow, green or black stools. Stools should be firm and brown while urine should be yellow or clear.

4. Listen to your dog’s lungs for signs of respiratory distress. Shallow breathing, heavy panting, or a light, persistent cough could indicate pain.

5. Take your dog’s temperature with a thermometer designed for animals. An ideal temperature for dogs is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 Celsius).

  • Ask someone to help take your dog’s temperature. One person should hold the dog’s head while the other uses the thermometor.

6. Watch for signs of sudden appetite loss. If your dog stops eating suddenly, it could be a sign of toxic substance ingestion. Call your vet if your dog displays a lack of appetite for more than 24 hours.

7. Check your home and yard for potential dog poisons. These potential poisons include rodent bait, anti-freeze, dead animals, mushrooms, or yard chemicals. Keep an eye out for upturned boxes, damaged prescription bottles, spilled liquids, or disturbed household chemicals.

  • If you suspect your dog ingested a poisonous product, check the back label of the packaging for warning disclaimers. Most products with toxic ingredients will list a company telephone number that customers can call for ways to recognize poisoning in dogs.
  • Or, you can call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680

8. Write down your dog’s symptoms in detail. Note when the symptoms started, their frequency, severity and any actions you are taking to alleviate them.

9. Call your veterinarian. Describe the symptoms and possible causes of the accidental poisoning. Ask if the symptoms warrant an immediate visit to the clinic. And if symptoms persist despite your veterinarian’s initial assessment, take your dog to a clinic immediately. Locate the nearest 24-hour care facility if symptoms occur over a weekend or during nighttime hours.

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More Helpful Resources:

Yuck 101: Why Your Dog Vomits 

Dog Health 101: Common Symptom’s Dangerous? 

What Not To Feed Your Pet

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Hold The Salt: Is Beach Water Safe For Dogs?

Gesundheit! Help Your Pet Fight Off Allergies

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Hold The Salt: Is Beach Water Safe For Dogs?

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