Winter Poisoning Hazards – Part II

In my last article, I presented information about winter poisoning hazards for dogs. Some of the principle hazards include rock salt, antifreeze, mistletoe, and holly berries. While these pose a serious threat to dogs during the winter, its important to note that poisonings can occur at other times during the year and from other threats. For a list of plants that are toxic to dogs, please see the ASPCA’s website.

In a future article, I will provide information about toxic foods.

The purpose of this article is to prepare you to respond in the event your companion animal becomes poisoned. By the end of this article, you will be able to:

  • list the common causes of poisoning
  • name the signs and symptoms of poisoning
  • contact the Animal Poison Control Center
  • implement preventative measures for your home


Poisoning happens in several ways. An animal may eat something toxic, such as rock salt, antifreeze, toxic foods, garbage, or prescription and over-the-counter medications. An animal may also inhale a poisonous gas or come in contact with a poisonous substance resulting in topical poisoning. Another possible cause of animal poisoning is the intentional poisoning of an animal by a human (also known as animal abuse).

According to the American Red Cross (2008), other sources of toxins include:

“drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and alcohol; heavy metals (i.e. zinc, lead); household chemicals…;…carbon monoxide; many plants…;…rat or mouse poison/bait or other pesticides, snail or slug bait, moth balls; topical products such as flea powders, sprays, shampoos and dips” (p. 97).

Although a dog may be exposed to a poisonous substance either by eating, inhaling, or touching, symptoms of poisoning may not surface immediately. It is possible for poisoning symptoms to “occur immediately or within hours”; however, it also “may take days to appear” (American Red Cross, 2008, p. 96). Whenever symptoms arise, it’s important that you are able to recognize them so you will be able to take action to save the life of your dog.


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