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In this lesson, we're going to dive into how to recognize when you dog or cat has ingested a toxic substance and is now showing signs of poisoning. We're also going to supply you with some important information for your pet first aid kit. And at the end of the lesson, we'll provide you with a Word about which houseplants are safe for pets and which are toxic.

Dogs and cats are naturally curious. They typically explore their environment using their mouths and noses. This makes them particularly susceptible to potentially ingesting a substance that is toxic to them.

The Signs of Poisoning

The signs of poisoning can come on suddenly within minutes, or those signs can occur hours or even days following the ingestion of a toxin. Also, as you're about to see, those signs of poisoning are numerous and incredibly varied.

Common General Signs of Poisoning

Some of the more common signs of poisoning can include the following:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Neurologic Signs of Poisoning

If your pet has been exposed to a toxin, he or she might also display some neurologic signs of poisoning. These can include:

  • Stumbling
  • Muscle twitching or tremors
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Other Signs of Poisoning

Other possible signs of pet poisoning can also include the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Skin ulcers

Pro Tip #1: If you suspect or know that your pet has been exposed to a substance that is poisonous, contact your veterinarian immediately and/or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435 as soon as possible.

If you call your vet first, in cases involving some of the more uncommon toxins, your veterinarian may request that you call poison control for more information. They are, after all, the experts on such matters. More so than even your vet.

Be Prepared with Information that can Help

If you do suspect your pet has been exposed to a poison or toxin, when you contact your vet or poison control, there is some information that will be extremely helpful to have on hand.

Try to determine the following, if you can:

  • What did your pet get into (the specific poison if you know)?
  • How much poison might your pet have been exposed to?
  • How long has it been since the exposure/potential exposure?
  • What is the weight of your pet?
  • Have you noticed any behavioral or vital signs changes?

Pro Tip #2: How can you tell how much poison your pet ingested? Well, it depends on the poison. If your pet got into a pill bottle, how may pills were there before and how many are there now. If your small dog just got into a large chocolate cake, how much is left and how much was there before?

Having this information on hand can greatly assist your veterinarian or poison control in providing prompt and effective care and treatment solutions.

Pro Tip #3: If you don't already have the number for the Animal Poison Control Hotline in your first aid kit, you may consider doing that now. Remember, contact information is one of the more important items in your kit and it helps if that contact information is complete.

A Word About Pet Safety and Houseplants

Do you know which houseplants are safe for your pets and which are not and may actually be poisonous? Well, the list is quite long and somewhat dependent on the region in which you live.

There are literally hundreds of plants that are safe and/or toxic for pets. In an article for the ProPetHero blog, pet expert Cara Armour tackles this subject, because as she says, sometimes people have a love for both animals and plants.

File this Word under prevention is the best medicine or knowledge is power. Because, knowing what plants are toxic to your pets is powerful knowledge and preventing a poisoning is always going to be preferred to treating one.

In the blog article, that you can read here – Pet First Aid Awareness – Pet Safe and Pet Toxic Plants – Cara outlines six common houseplants that are toxic for pets (this list may surprise you) and six common houseplants that are safe for pets. But as we've already mentioned, this list is incomplete; it would benefit you greatly to get to know what plants are toxic in your region or even in your own yard or garden.