Dogs (and sometimes cats!) are notorious for getting into things that they shouldn’t, and unfortunately there are many common household products, human foods and human medications that can be harmful to our pets.

What products should I be cautious of?

There are so many products and foods that could be harmful to your pet in varying amounts that it is important to seek advice regarding anything that your pet ingested that is out of the ordinary. This includes:

  • Human foods, the worse being grapes and currants or sultanas, chocolate or coffee, xylitol which is an artificial sweetener in “diet” or “health” foods, alcohol, onions and garlic or macadamias
  • Human prescription medications and street drugs
  • Household cleaners such as bleach
  • Pet products taken incorrectly, such as an overdose of a flea treatment or using dog products on cats
  • Human shampoos, toothpastes, and other toiletries
  • Garage products such as engine coolant
  • Baits such as rat baits, snail baits and cockroach baits

What should I do if my pet has ingested something potentially toxic?

Depending on the product, making your pet vomit as soon as possible is usually the first treatment they will be offered as to reduce the exposure to the toxin as much as possible. Note that for certain products that are corrosive or sharp, for example, inducing vomiting is not an option.

  1. Take note of how much of the product was ingested, when it was eaten, the ingredients and dosages of active ingredients. Also take note of what was eaten before and after this.
  2. Call the Australian Animal Poisons Helpline, which is a free service for any pet parents, to discuss is this could be dangerous as soon as the ingestion is noticed
  3. Alternatively, you can call us or your local clinic for advice as soon as possible
  4. In general, do not attempt to make your pet vomit at home, unless the Pet Poison Hotline or a veterinarian has specifically instructed you to. Using things like hydrogen peroxide or salt can be more toxic than the original toxin, are usually ineffective and cause more harm in most cases.
  5. Bring your pet and the packaging of the product to the clinic as soon as possible. Typically there is a 2 hour period where we can reliably make your pet vomit, though this may be shorter if the toxin has a quick onset of action. Occasionally we will still recommend inducing vomiting after this time period but the chance of success is lower
  6. Advise the reception staff of what was ingested and when, as well as providing them with the product packaging. If within the appropriate time frame, staff will usually ask for your permission to induce vomiting and take your pet to the treatment area to be assessed by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  7. Depending on the product and the success of inducing vomiting, further workup and occasionally hospitalisation may be recommended by your veterinarian

Australian Animal Poisons Helpline: 1300 TOX PET (1300 869738)

Clinic number (open 24/7 for emergencies): 02 4733 3456