The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : How to Recognize Poisoning in Dogs The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : How to Recognize Poisoning in Dogs

Thursday, August 16, 2018

How to Recognize Poisoning in Dogs

Dogs can be poisoned by a number of different things including chocolate, grapes, and candy containing xylitol. Just like with humans, poisoning is a very serious issue for dogs, but if you know the signs you can help your pup and get it to the vet in time!

To figure out if your dog has been poisoned, look to see if its gums or tongue are blue, purple, white, bright red, or brick colored. Place your hand on the left side of the dog’s chest and listen for a pulse of 180 bpm or higher. Observe your dog to see if it is vomiting, having diarrhea, are dizzy or disoriented, pant heavily for over 30 minutes, or if it's lost its appetite for over a day. If you see any of these signs, contact your vet immediately.

Examine Your Dog’s Body

1)  Look in your dog’s mouth.


Your dog’s gums and tongue should be pale to medium pink. If your dog naturally has black gums, look at its tongue. If the gums or tongue are blue, purple, white, brick colored or extremely bright red, seek veterinary medical attention immediately. This means that something is impeding the flow of blood throughout your dog's body.

You can also do a "capillary refill time" test to determine if a poison is impeding your dog's blood circulation. Lift the upper lip and press above a canine tooth with your thumb. Release your thumb then watch for a color change where you pressed. The gum color should change from white to pink within two seconds. If there is significant delay (more than three seconds), check with your veterinarian.


2) Take your dog’s pulse.


If a dog’s heart rate is over 180 beats per minute, and you have any reason to suspect poisoning, seek immediate medical attention. A normal resting adult dog’s heart rate is between 70 and 140 beats per minute. Larger dogs are typically at the lower end of the scale.

You can check your dog’s heart rate by placing your hand on the left side of its chest, behind its elbow, and then feeling for the heart beat. Count how many heart beats you feel in 15 seconds and multiply that number by four to get the beats per minute.

If you have enough foresight, write down your dog’s normal pulse rate in a dog journal for future reference. Some dog's heartbeats beat faster by nature.

3 Take your dog's temperature with a thermometer. 


The normal temperature range of a dog is between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 Celsius).  A fever does not necessarily indicate that your dog has been poisoned, but it does point to some general infirmity. If your pet is stressed or excited, you may get a falsely elevated temperature. If your pet is acting lethargic and ill and has an elevated temperature, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Ask a partner to help take your dog's temperature. One person should hold the dog's head while the other inserts the thermometer into the dog’s rectum, which is found directly under the tail. Lubricate the thermometer end with petroleum jelly or water based lubricant like K-Y. Use a digital thermometer.

Identifying Strange Behavior

1) Examine your dog's balance. 


If your dog is staggering, disoriented, or dizzy, it could be suffering from neurological or heart problems, as well as low blood sugar caused by poisoning. Again, seek veterinary medical attention immediately.


2) Watch for vomiting and diarrhea. 


Both are highly irregular in dogs. They are signs of your dog’s body attempting to expel foreign poisonous substances. Examine your dog’s vomit/stool for content, color, and consistency. Your dog’s stool should be firm and brown. If your dog’s stool becomes watery, loose, yellow, green, or deep black, contact your vet.


3) Pay attention to your dog’s breathing. 


Panting is normal for dogs most of the time. It is their way of expelling heat. Heavy panting lasting for longer than 30 minutes may be a sign of respiratory or cardiac difficulty. If you can hear wheezing or crackles as your dog breathes, seek immediate veterinary medical attention. If your dog ingested something, it could be affecting its lungs. 

You can determine your dog’s respiratory rate by watching the dog’s chest and counting how many breaths they take in 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get the breaths per minute. The appropriate respiratory rate of a dog is 10-30 breaths per minute.

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