Food Poisoning in Dogs: What You Need to Know

01 May 2019

Food Poisoning in Dogs: What You Need to Know

Food poisoning is a very unpleasant illness that happens when contaminated food or something toxic is eaten. You may not realize that your pooch has been affected until a little while after the contaminated food has been consumed. But what are the signs that your dog displays when they have food poisoning and what are the implications? This article will explore this and explain signs to look out for and what could happen as a result of your four-legged friend becoming unwell from bad food. It can be very worrying for pet parents when their fur babies get sick, so it is important to know what to do in the event of food poisoning and how to respond. Dogs love to sniff around and taste or eat anything they may come across, so you may not always realize they have eaten something they shouldn’t. Understanding the symptoms of food poisoning will allow you to find out if they have.

What are the Signs of Food Poisoning in Your Dog?

If you have seen your pooch gobble down something they shouldn’t, always contact your vet. Witnessing your furry friend eating something bad at least gives you a head start on them getting sick, but what if you don’t see them eat something harmful? Dogs can easily get their snouts into something dangerous, especially with household cleaning products and gardening chemicals around your home and backyard. Some foods within your home can be dangerous too, including chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol. These foods can easily be left out on the coffee table or places within easy reach of your pooch. Naturally, they will want to smell and taste the food and drinks that you enjoy and often lap up what they can when it becomes available to them. It is so easy for this to happen, and often we don’t even realize our pup has sneakily eaten something. The usual time it takes for food poisoning symptoms to show up is around 3-4 days. This is quite a long time and you may forget that your pooch has been in contact with a hazardous product if the signs don’t develop straight away. So if you see your pup eating something that’s bad for them and nothing happens straight away, don’t be fooled. After a few days have passed, your pooch may start to develop a variety of symptoms. Vomiting and Diarrhea are very common symptoms, usually caused by the body trying to evacuate the toxic germs and bacteria. This can be very uncomfortable for your fur baby and not pleasant to clean up. They can also become dehydrated by losing fluids and may start to overheat. You may also notice that your pup has become lethargic and tired. A pet parent can usually tell when their fur baby is under the weather as they probably won’t be acting like normal. Your pooch may also start drooling more or twitching, and in more serious cases they may experience a seizure.

You may also notice a change in their breathing. Are they panting more than usual? This may be just because they are too hot or dehydrated, but if you notice a change in your pet’s breathing pattern, always monitor this. Strange behavior may be another clue, if they seem dizzy or slightly like they are falling in and out of consciousness. This is a serious sign and needs medical attention immediately.

These are the most common signs of food poisoning to look out for, ones that you may have experienced yourself after eating raw meat or food that’s been contaminated. Dog’s tolerance to raw meat is a lot higher than ours, so they may not always get sick from this. However, it is always best to avoid giving raw meat to your pooch all together, Once these signs start, contact your vet straight away. Even one or two of these symptoms can be food poisoning and it’s important to seek medical advice quickly. Even though the signs can take a few days to show, they can happen quite suddenly and may take you by surprise if you weren’t expecting them to become ill from something they consumed.

What are the Implications if My Dog Gets Food Poisoning?

Dog’s tend to get food poisoning from foods that are high in bacteria and from a lot of non-food items. These non-food items can be toxic, like slug pellets or rat poison. If this is ingested by your pooch, they will usually experience the symptoms we explained above and they may even whimper or cry in pain. If left untreated, severe poisoning can be fatal. It can cause an irregular heartbeat, kidney failure, liver damage, neurological problems, loss of blood, and loss of appetite. These problems usually depend on the type of product they have eaten. Even if treated and your dog survives, if the illness was severe, they may suffer from some damage caused by the poisoning. This is only in severe cases, and if treated quickly and correctly, your fur baby will make a full recovery in no time.

How Do I Respond if My Dog Has Been Poisoned?

If you think your dog has got food poisoning, contact your veterinarian straight away. There may be obvious signs, but you may also want to check their gums, heart rate, and temperature to see if these are unusual. If your dog's gums aren’t their usual pink color, such as if they are pale, this is a signal that something is wrong. Of course, if your dog has black gums, you won’t be able to determine this. Try and write down all the symptoms that your dog has experienced so you can inform your vet. This will help with the diagnosis and the treatment to get your pooch back to good health.

Once you have called your vet, checked over your pooch and noted down their symptoms, see if you can find the potential source of the poisoning. This will allow you to determine the severity of the poisoning, such as if they have consumed something toxic like bleach or slug pellets. It is important to have emergency contact details in the event of a medical emergency for your pet. The quicker they can be treated the better. Take a sample of the substance with you to your vets too.

In less severe cases of food poisoning, you may be able to take care of your four-legged friend at home, but you should always speak to your veterinarian if there is a problem. If your dog is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, their bodies are getting rid of the illness, so they may recover by themselves. It is important to keep them hydrated and give them plenty of water for 24 hours and long after they start feeling unwell.

The Most Common Causes of Food Poisoning in Dogs

It’s a good idea to know the household items that your pooch is most likely to experience food poisoning from. Whilst you're out of the house, dogs will explore and may chew things if they start experiencing separation anxiety, which could be items that are potentially dangerous to them. The most common household and garden items that cause food poisoning in dogs are:

  • Chocolate
  • Raisins
  • Sweetener (Xylitol)
  • Slug and Rodent Poison
  • Bleach
  • Oven Cleaner
  • Paracetamol
  • Acorns

Always keep cleaning products in cupboards, as well as food, drink, and medicines. Try and keep gardening substances in the shed and locked away. Pooches are very good at getting into packaging, even ones that you think are secure, so it’s always safer to keep these things locked away.

Why are Some Foods Poisonous to Dogs and Not to Us?

It’s understandable why some items are poisonous to dogs, like bleach or oven cleaner, as these contain substances that should not be consumed by any living thing. If we decided to drink some bleach, we would have to rush to the emergency room immediately, because it is so dangerous. There are some foods however that may seem a little strange to be poisonous to dogs. Take chocolate, for example. A lot of households will have chocolate and often this can be left out if we forget to pack it away after a movie night, or maybe the kids have left their chocolate somewhere that is easy to get to. Dogs will eat chocolate if they find it, which is why it’s important to pack it away somewhere that they can’t get to. But why are they allergic to chocolate? Most humans are not, and it is something some of us enjoy quite frequently. The cocoa in chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is highly toxic to dogs. Theobromine can stay in your dog’s body for up to 6 days. If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, speak to your vet as soon as you can. If you have seen they have eaten a  lot, you should treat this as an emergency and get help from your vet. Chocolate can be fatal to pooches, so you need to act quick. Like other items consumed that are poisonous to your dog, take a sample with you for your vet to examine. Your vet may try and induce vomiting so your dog can clear the bad toxins for their body.  

Another food item that you may think is strange to be poisonous to dogs is raisins and grapes. For some reason, grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs, and if consumed by your four-legged friend, could be fatal. It can lead to kidney failure or kidney damage, as well as the usual symptoms that come with food poisoning in your dog. If your dog vomits, this is a good sign that they are getting the poison out of their body. Like we always suggest with food poisoning, always contact your vet if they are unwell. Remember, raisins can be found in other foods, like cake or biscuits, that you may think is harmless to give your dog. It is not known why raisins, grapes, and sultanas are poisonous to dogs and a lot of people think it’s a myth, but it is something that has been proven by professionals and should be taken seriously.

Why are Dogs Lactose Intolerant?

Lactose is a term that is used to describe an intolerance to dairy products. Dogs are lactose intolerant and will often become unwell when they consume items like milk, cheese or yogurt. The main reason why they are intolerant is that they are not used to it. Unlike us, they do not consume dairy products as they grow up, and are only really provided dairy through us. If in the wild, dogs would never consume dairy, meaning they have evolved to not handle it in the same way that we do. Because some foods are safe for us, it doesn’t mean they are safe for your fur baby. Although it is not necessarily dangerous for your pooch to consume dairy, it can cause discomfort and sickness that is unpleasant for your four-legged friend, so it is best to avoid it altogether.  


To sum up, food poisoning in dogs may not be obvious straight away, but as soon as your pooch displays symptoms or has eaten something they shouldn’t, call your vet immediately. Remember, it may take 3-4 days for any symptoms to show, which could be vomiting, shaking or seizures in more severe cases. Keep dangerous products out of the way and give your pooch plenty of water when they are recovering to keep them hydrated, as they will lose a lot of fluids from the illness. As a pet parent, you will usually know if your four-legged friend is feeling unwell, so make sure you to make that call to your vet as soon as you think there’s a problem, for the safety of your pooch and peace of mind for you. Remember to do your research to make sure you understand what foods and substances and poisonous to pooches, to help you avoid any emergency dashes to the vets. If you want more information or just want to give your pooch a check up, schedule a visit at

Category: Food & Nutrition

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