Little dog maltese and black and white cat eating food from a bowl in home

What Should I Do if My Pet Eats Something Harmful?

You come home and see a devoured box of chocolates on the floor and your dog looking up at you with those “Who, me?” eyes. Or you notice your cat has nibbled on the cut flowers you thought were out of paw’s reach. Now what?

Keep Your Wits About You

First off, you should avoid panicking. You’ll be better able to help your pet if you have a clear head. Plus, pets pick up on how we’re feeling, so if you start freaking out, your pet may freak out more too.

Then, of course, you’ll want to seek expert medical help. Call your veterinarian or animal poison control immediately. If there is any packaging, it can be useful to have it handy when you call so you can explain exactly what your pet ingested. You’ll also need to give them some information about your pet, like age, weight, and general health condition.

Once they understand the situation, they’ll recommend the next steps you should take, which may be to jump in the car and rush to an emergency animal hospital. If you’re speaking with poison control, they may be able to contact the hospital while you’re on your way to advise them of the situation.

Quick Tip

Make sure you have phone numbers of your veterinary clinic and animal poison control saved on your phone so that you can dial it quickly in an emergency.

Should I Make My Dog Throw Up?

If your dog ate something they shouldn’t, they might just throw it up on their own. But if that doesn’t happen, vomiting may need to be induced. However, this is not something you should just try doing yourself without the expressed direction of a veterinary professional. It could hurt your dog.

For instance, if your dog ate something with sharp edges, it could cause injuries on its way back up. Dogs can also breathe in their own vomit, which can lead to aspiration pneumonia. In addition, if your dog swallowed something hours ago, it may be too late to get them to throw it back up. It’s important that you talk to your veterinarian or animal poison control to determine if making your dog vomit would be helpful and how to go about it safely if needed. You don’t want to inadvertently cause more harm to your dog while trying to help them out.

Cute Boy Sharing His Cookie With His Pet, Adorable Fluffy Poodle Dog

14 Foods Poisonous to Dogs

In addition to household cleaning products, pesticides, and other chemicals in and around your home, certain foods can be toxic to your dog. These are some of the biggest food no-nos for dogs:

  1. Any kind of chocolate although darker is more dangerous
  2. Anything else with caffeine, like tea leaves or coffee, which can cause your dog’s heart to race, blood pressure to skyrocket, and even lead to seizures
  3. Gum and candy which can cause choking, intestinal blockage, or fractured teeth
  4. Food sweetened with xylitol, such as desserts, gum, candies, and some peanut butters
  5. Grapes and their shriveled raisin siblings
  6. Macadamia nuts, which can be found in some cookies
  7. Avocados so definitely keep your dog’s nose out of the guacamole
  8. Onions and garlic, including large doses of the powder varieties
  9. Raw or undercooked meat since it can contain salmonella or other harmful bacteria
  10. Too much salt whether it’s from the shaker or on snacks like pretzels
  11. Raw yeast dough, so if you’re a bread baker, keep that dough out of paw’s reach while it rises
  12. Spoiled foods, for instance, that your dog might discover in the trash
  13. Fatty foods, including all kinds of things that probably make your dog’s mouth water like hot dogs, bacon, ribs, and fried chicken
  14. Alcohol, which can give make your dog feel buzzed and get sick

This list doesn’t include all of the other things your dogs might swallow. Unfortunately, our dogs are infamous for eating all sorts of things, from rocks to dirty socks. These items can cause your dog to choke. If they swallow them, they can get stuck on their way out, creating an intestinal blockage or a bowel obstruction. This can require surgery to remove the object.

Did you know?

Human medication is one of the most common causes of pet poison emergencies. Be sure to keep medicine safely away from curious noses.

What’s Bad for Cats

Many of the same foods that are harmful to dogs can hurt our cats, such as chocolate, garlic, onions, and raw or undercooked meats. But cats have much more discerning palettes than their canine counterparts, and they’re less likely to nosh on harmful foods.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re not at risk for eating something toxic. Here are some common dangers for cats:

  • Toxic plants – Many cats can’t help but nibble on those tasty leaves even if the plant is poisonous. Make sure you don’t have any plants that are harmful to cats in your home and check flower bouquets for harmful blooms, like lilies and baby’s breath.
  • Antifreeze – This chemical has a sweet taste that some kitties can’t resist. If you spill some in your garage, be sure to clean it up carefully so your cat won’t lap it up.
  • Dairy products – A cat sipping from a saucer of milk is an iconic image, but you should never give your cat dairy products. Cats have trouble digesting lactose, so dairy can make their tummy hurt.

Cats can also get hurt if they choke on or swallow everyday household objects, such as yarn, string, rubber bands, or pieces of toys that get ripped off. Be sure that the toys you give your cat are sturdy enough to withstand a feline attack.

How Pet Insurance Can Help

If your pet ate something harmful or has an intestinal blockage, pet insurance can help you manage the costs of their care. It can cover expenses related to diagnosing the issue, treating your pet, and even any follow-up care they may need. Pet insurance can help you take great care of your pet with less stress about the cost.

Learn more about our plans.