How to Identify the Signs Your Dog or Cat Has Been Poisoned

How to Identify the Signs Your Dog or Cat Has Been Poisoned

Our pets are family and when one gets sick we feel helpless. Quick action can mean saving the life of a loved one. When poison is a possibility, knowing what to do can be lifesaving!


Photo by Alexander Andrews on

Tell-tell signs that your dog or cat has been poisoned

Before you can do something about pet poisoning, you must first know how to identify it. 

There are many tell-tell signs which vary with the type of animal and type of toxin. Some of the prominent indicators of poisoning in cats and dogs include the following:


  • Traces of the poison around the mouth or floor.
  • Excessive drooling or foaming in the mouth
  • Signs of an upset gastrointestinal system like vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite. 
  • Lethargy
  • Uncoordinated movement 
  • Seizures and muscle tremors 
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Heavy breathing
  • Abnormal body temperature 
  • Signs of liver failure like yellowing gums
  • Pale (gray or blueish)gums 
  • Increased thirst (a sign of kidney failure)
  • Swelling – could be due to insect stings or snake bites.


Sometimes the signs could show immediately. Other times it could take a few hours or even days to show. The most important thing to do is to be observant. Be keen about your pet’s behavior and surroundings. You should also know the common toxins and keep them away from your dog or cat’s reach. 


If you notice any unusual behavior and your cat or dog has traces of a known toxin around the mouth or feeding area, do not hesitate to take your cat or dog to the nearest vet emergency care center.

What to do if you suspect your dog or cat has been poisoned

Of course, your dog or cat could experience the symptoms, and it could be something else bothering them. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. 


The first thing you should do is urgently seek a vet’s help at the slightest hint of poisoning. The chances of healing and recovery are better when suspected poisoning is addressed early. 


The vet will conduct different tests and determine the best way to treat your pet. In some cases, the vet could opt to flush out the toxin from the GI system with clean water. In other cases, the vet could resort to invasive procedures like surgery. Depending on the poison (for example, if the dog swallows human prescription drugs), the vet could also induce vomiting. 


After expunging a significant quantity of the toxin, the vet could make your pet swallow activated charcoal to absorb the poison. The vet could also administer other medications that would help counter the effect of the toxin or neutralize it. 


Healing might be a lengthy procedure requiring different therapies. 

What else can you do?

Apart from taking your pet to the nearest vet emergency center, the following actions will aid in the care of your fur baby:


  • Evacuate your dog or cat from the environment with the poison. Stop it from ingesting or inhaling any more of the toxin. 
  • Call a vet or the pet poison control line and explain the situation, then take their advice.
  • If the dog or cat has ingested a chemical, collect the packaging and a sample of the toxin (if it is safe) and show it to the vet. It will save a lot of time needed to identify the poison. 
  • If it is an external toxin, a thorough wash with soap and water will help to prevent further irritation due to the poison. 

Photo by Madeline Bowen on Unsplash

Poisoning in companion animals; a final word

Adopting a rescued animal is not for the faint-hearted. It takes someone with a big heart and a resilient spirit. A rescued cat or dog could have many behavioral issues that could put them in harm’s way. 


Eating prohibited substances is a prominent behavior issue for such pets. 


By learning about what to do if you think your dog or cat has been poisoned, you’ll be taking a significant step to boost your skills as a pet parent. The best pet parent is the one who provides much-needed care and protection, even from self-harming behaviors. At Pet Haven, we are here to help and support your rescued pet and you!