Symptoms and actions of poisoning in pets

Our dogs explore things with their mouths, especially as pups, and the curious nature of our cats can lead to our pets being poisoned. Here are the signs of a poisoned pet, and what actions you need to take if your cat or dog is ill.

23rd March 2020

Our dogs explore things with their mouths, especially as pups, and the curious nature of our cats can lead to our pets being poisoned. They can also become ill by breathing in a noxious substance or ingesting dangerous toxins while grooming.

What are the symptoms of poisoning in pets?

The clinical signs will vary depending on the particular poison they’ve consumed or come into contact with.

With so many different poisons, our cats and dogs will have different reactions to poisoning but knowing the signs and being able to recognise symptoms of poisoning could potentially save your pet’s life.

Common symptoms of pet poisoning are:

  • Salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Shock
  • Collapse
  • Swelling
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Confusion

What should I do if I think my pet has been poisoned?

Even if you suspect your cat or dog has been poisoned, don’t wait for signs of illness and contact your vet immediately. Never attempt to treat your cat or dog yourself, unless advised to do so by your vet.

  • DO stay calm and remove your pet from the source of the poison, if you can see one.
  • DO contact your vet and keep a log of when and where it happened and of what caused your pet to become unwell. If possible, take a sample of the poison with you, but never put yourself in harm’s way doing this.
  • DO follow your vet’s advice.
  • DO keep other pets away from the source.
  • DO NOT wait for symptoms or assume they will go away.
  • DO NOT try and make your pet vomit.

Can pets recover from poisoning?

Cats and dogs can and do recover from poisoning, but time really is of the essence in these situations. The sooner your pet receives veterinary treatment, the better their chances of survival.

Your vet will assess your pet’s condition before deciding on the right treatment. Some poisons can be treated with an antidote, but this isn’t always possible, and a vet may choose to treat your pet’s symptoms to maintain normal organ function until the poison has been flushed from your pet’s body.

How can I prevent pet poisoning?

As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that any dangerous liquids, medicines, plants or food are kept out of your pet’s reach. This will help keep them safe while in the home. Learning about the dangers they might come across while out and about or on their walks is also a good idea, so you know what to avoid.

Unfortunately, you won’t always be able to prevent poisoning in your pet, especially if it’s a cat that goes on nightly wanders alone but being aware of the symptoms will help in an emergency.

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