Toxic ingestion in dogs

‘Toxic ingestion’ is the term used when your dog eats something toxic or poisonous. Our dogs use their noses and mouths to explore the world around them, so it’s likely they’ll come across things they shouldn’t eat at some point in their lives!

Luckily, toxic ingestion is avoidable – and we’re here to help. We’re about to dive into the symptoms, causes, prevention, and treatments available for toxic ingestion, so you can keep your canine companion safe from harmful foods and poisonous products.


Please contact a vet immediately if you think your dog has eaten something toxic or poisonous.

If you haven’t seen your dog eating something toxic, but notice one or more of the following symptoms, contact your vet for advice:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Drooling.
  • Pale gums.
  • Lethargy.
  • Agitation.
  • Tremors.
  • Convulsions.

Sometimes, toxic ingestion can cause long-term health problems in dogs, including:

  • Kidney failure.
  • Heart issues.
  • Damage to their digestive system.


Unfortunately, there are many different types of food, plants, and household products that are highly toxic to dogs if ingested (eaten). It’s possible for our dogs to encounter poisonous items at home, in the garden, and while out on walks.  

The following lists include just a small number of items that are toxic to our pets. If you’re worried your dog has eaten something that isn’t on these lists, but you think it might be poisonous, please discuss any concerns with your vet straight away.

Food, additives, and ingredients that are toxic to dogs:

  • Alcohol.
  • Caffeine.
  • Xylitol (sweetener).
  • Nuts (e.g. macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds, etc.).
  • Chocolate.
  • Sweets.
  • Grapes.
  • Raisins, sultanas, currants, etc.
  • Cherries.
  • Bulb vegetables (e.g. onions, garlic, chives, etc.).
  • Raw potatoes.
  • Cake (e.g. chocolate cake, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, etc.).
  • Stollen.
  • Mince pies.
  • Stuffing.
  • Yorkshire puddings.
  • Gravy.

Additionally, any food your dog eats must not contain large amounts of:

  • Sugar.
  • Fats.
  • Salt.

Remember: Cooked poultry bones and roasted bones (e.g. leg of lamb) can cause serious damage to your dog’s digestive system!

Plants that are toxic to dogs:

  • Daffodil bulbs.
  • Hyacinth.
  • Lilies.
  • Tulips.
  • Bluebells.
  • Rhododendron.
  • Ragwort.
  • Foxglove.
  • Potato plant leaves.
  • Aloe vera.
  • Holly.
  • Peony plant.
  • Acorns.
  • Conkers.

Household products that are toxic to dogs:

  • Bleach (and other household chemicals!).
  • Pesticides/insecticides (e.g. slug pellets).
  • Paint.
  • Rodent poisons.
  • Human drugs (e.g. ibuprofen).
  • Antifreeze.
  • Batteries.
  • Salt grit (used on roads when it’s icy).

Prevention and treatment

Preventing toxic ingestion is possible, but you’ll need to keep toxic plants, flowers, foods, and substances well out of your dog’s reach. For example, while you and your dog are enjoying outdoor adventures together, try to keep them away from poisonous plants and any food litter that might be lying around.

Please note: Your dog must have constant access to fresh, clean water. It’s also vital that your dog’s diet is managed properly, because that might prevent them from being tempted to eat something they shouldn’t.

The ways you might treat toxic ingestion at home, while waiting to take your dog to the vet, will depend entirely on your vet’s advice. However, some of the common suggestions a vet may make if your dog has ingested something toxic could include:

  • Preventing your dog from eating anything else (especially the toxic item!).
  • Having the poisonous item’s packaging ready to take to the vets with you (if possible).
  • Keeping your dog as calm as possible.
  • Separating your dog from animals, children, and stressful environments.
  • Never attempting to force your dog to vomit. 
  • Avoid giving them any medication, human or otherwise.

Remember: Be prepared to provide a description of exactly what your dog has eaten and when, to help the vet treat your dog more effectively!

  • Veterinary treatments for toxic ingestion in dogs could include:
  • Giving your dog an antidote to the poison (if available).
  • Acting quickly to give specific treatments that prevent damage to your dog’s organs, depending on what they’ve ingested.
  • Inducing sickness.
  • Endoscopy (your dog is put under general anaesthetic, so the vet can use a small camera to check their digestive system).
  • Surgery.

Now you know what your dog needs to avoid, you have the power to prevent toxic ingestion! For further advice about toxic ingestion in pets, you could chat to a vet expert from Joii Pet Care at any time, from the comfort of your own home. 

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