Bird Dogs & Training  |  05/21/2014

Substances Toxic to Dogs

I heard a story recently about a dog that likes to retrieve clay targets – not just from the ground, but while they fly. The owner thinks it’s pretty funny. My first reaction was to want to count how many teeth the dog has left in its mouth. Then I remembered reading about how most clay pigeons contain coal tar and lead as well as zinc and nickel, all of which can be toxic if ingested. The article went on to say that if you have a hunting dog – or any dog – that likes to retrieve rocks and hard, solid objects, beware of clay targets. Small pieces can be swallowed and could be poisonous. 
While most of us are aware of things that can be toxic to dogs, it’s always good to review the list. Here are some of the commonly found household items, foods and plants that can be poisonous to dogs. (Please leave a comment below if you know of an important toxin I’ve overlooked here.) Levels of toxicity vary, and the amount ingested affects the severity of the symptoms and danger. 
  • antifreeze, gasoline, kerosene, turpentine
  • rat and mouse poison, insect bait, animal bait, insecticides
  • mothballs
  • human medications
  • batteries, hand warmers
  • lead, zinc
  • chocolate
  • raisins and grapes
  • macadamia nuts
  • onions, peach pits, apple seeds
  • raw bread dough
  • coffee grinds
  • xylitol artificial sweetener
  • marijuana
  • milkweed, laurel, azalea, foxglove, amaryllis, poppy, mistletoe
  • nightshade family of plants
  • some ivy species, asparagus fern, spider mum
  • some types of mushrooms, particularly the “death cap” mushroom
  • blue-green algae
Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, behavioral changes, weakness, excessive salivation, and neurologic problems like stumbling, convulsions, or seizures. If you know what the dog has ingested and it is not a caustic substance, you can induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide. If it was caustic or you don’t know for sure, you don’t want to make the dog throw up because the acid coming back up will double the damage. It’s best to always have available the phone number for one of the animal poison control centers. They can help identify the best course of action if you know or even suspect your dog has ingested something poisonous. 
-Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.