Canine Medical Information, Part II


Cindy Tittle Moore,
Copyright 1996.


If you need to induce vomiting, first make sure that it's appropriate to do so. Don't induce vomiting To induce vomiting:

Local Poison Control Centers

Check the emergency room of the local hospital and ask for the number of the local Poison Control Center. You should have this number up on the refrigerator alongside the vet's number and the emergency care number.

National Animal Poison Control Center

The National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) provides a 24-hour emergency hotline that every dog owner should keep in plain sight. The hotline numbers are (800)548-2423 and (900)680-0000. The 800 number requires a credit card number and charges a flat $30; the 900 number is $2.95 per minute for a maximum of $30.

The NAPCC is a non-profit service of the University of Illinois and is the first animal-oriented poison center in the United States. Since 1978, it has provided advice to animal owners and conferred with veterinarians about poisoning exposures. The NAPCC's phones are answered by licensed veterinarians and board-certified veterinary toxicologists. They have specialized information that lets the experienced NAPCC staff make specific recommendations for your animals; plus over 250,000 records are in their database.

When you call, be ready to provide:

Household products and plants are the most common culprits in poisoning cases. In the case of poisoning from household products, many companies cover the costs the pet owners incur when it has been determined that their product is responsible for the reaction.

For further information, write to: The American Humane Association, 63 Inverness Drive East, Englewood, CO 80112-5117, or call (303) 792-9900.


Chocolate, tea, coffee, cola:

It is not chocolate itself that is poisonous to dogs, it is the theobromine, a naturally occuring compound found in chocolate. Theobromine causes different reactions to different dogs: dogs with health problems, especially epilepsy, are more affected by theobromine than healthy dogs. Theobromine can trigger epileptic seizures in dogs prone to or at risk of epilepsy. The size of the dog will also be a major factor: the smaller the dog, the more affected it is by the same amount than a larger dog. Therefore, toxicity is described on a mg/Kg basis.

Furthermore, theobromine can cause cardiac irregularity, especially if the dog becomes excited. Cardiac arythmia can precipitate a myocardial infarct which can kill the dog.

Theobromine also irritates the GI tract and in some dogs can cause internal bleeding which in some cases kills them a day or so later.

Theobromine is also present in differing amounts in different kinds of chocolate. milk chocolate has 44-66 mg/oz, dark chocolate 450 mg/oz and baking/bitter chocolate or cocoa powder varies as much as 150-600 mg/oz. How much chocolate a dog can survive depends on its weight (and other unknown circumstances). Under 200 mg theobromine per kg body weight no deaths have been observed.

Theobromine will stay in the bloodstream between 14 and 20 hours. It goes back into the bloodstream through the stomach lining and takes a long time for the liver to filter out.

Within two hours of ingestion, try inducing vomiting unless your dog is markedly stimulated, comatose, or has lost the gag reflex. If your dog has eaten a considerable amount of chocolate, or displays any of the above symptoms, take it to the vet without delay.

In the absence of major symptoms, administer activated charcoal. The unabsorbed theobromine will chemically bond to this and be eliminated in the feces. In pinch, burnt (as in thoroughly burnt, crumbling in hand) toast will do.


Walnuts are poisonous to dogs and should be avoided. In particular, there is a type of fungus common to walnuts (especially wet deadfall walnuts) that will cause severe episodes of seizuring. Many nuts are not good for dogs in general, their high phosporous content is said to possibly lead to bladder stones.


Onions, especially raw onions, have been shown to trigger hemolytic anemia in dogs. (Stephen J Ettinger, D.V.M and Edward C. Fieldman, D.V.M. 's book: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine vol. 2 pg 1884.) Also: "Six Cases of Heinz Body Haemolytic Anaemia Induced by Onion and/or Garlic Ingestion" - CM Edwards and CJ Belford Aust.Vet.Prac. 26 (1) March 1996, 18-22.

Potato poisonings among people and dogs have occurred. Solanum alkaloids can be found in in green sprouts and green potato skins, which occurs when the tubers are exposed to sunlight during growth or after harvest. The relatively rare occurrence of actual poisoning is due to several factors: solanine is poorly absorbed; it is mostly hydrolyzed into less toxic solanidinel; and the metabolites are quickly eliminated. Note that cooked, mashed potatoes are fine for dogs, actually quite nutritious and digestible.

Turkey skin is currently thought to cause acute pancreatis in dogs.

Poisonous houseplants

In assessing the risk to your dog from these plants, you need to consider both the age of your dog and it's propensity to chew on plants. Many of the below toxic plants rarely cause problems because most dogs don't chew them -- the exceptions being, of course, young puppies who are inclined to explore the world with their mouths, teething dogs who may chew on everything, and older dogs that are simply fond of chewing. Oleander, for example, is rather toxic, but most cases of poisoning involve 1) cattle, other grazing livestock 2) puppies and 3) human babies/toddlers.

Dumb cane is probably the one plant that should always be kept out of reach, since it takes only one nibble to have a potentially fatal situation.

(from Carlson & Giffin.)

Poisonous outdoor plants

(from Carlson & Giffin.)

Poisonous household items

Acetaminophen           	Laxatives
AntiFreeze			Lead
Aspirin				Lye
Bleach				Matches
Boric Acid			Metal Polish
Brake Fluid			Mineral Spirits
Carbon Monoxide			Mothballs
Carbuerator Cleaner		Nail Polish and Remover
Christmas Tinsel		Paint & Remover			
Cleaning Fluid			Perm Solutions
Deoderants/Deoderizers		Phenol
Detergents			Photo Developer
Disinfectants			Rat Poison
Drain Cleaner			Rubbing Alcohol
Dye				Shoe Polish
Fungicides			Sleeping Pills
Furniture Polish		Soaps
Gasoline			Suntan Lotions
Hair Colorings			Tar
Herbicides			Turpentine
Insecticides			Windshield Fluid
Kerosene			Woodstains

Poisonous animals

Bufo toads. Found in various areas, especially in south Florida. Very poisonous -- it can kill a small dog in a matter of minutes. It burns the mucous membrane of the mouth (gums) which is why they drool and foam, and that's also how it enters the bloodstream. It kills by elevating the heart rate and blood pressure to deadly levels, similar to the effects of chocolate. There is an antidote and the effects can be lessened if you immediately flush the dog's mouth with water before taking it to the vet.
Canine Medical Information, Part II FAQ
Cindy Tittle Moore,
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