Tis the Season: What To Do If Your Pet Eats Something Toxic


Pet Poison Prevention Week spotlights the importance of keeping pets safe from toxic substances. The holidays bring their share of problems including toxic plants and food that is often found around the house. Many items we consume and touch without a second thought can cause serious harm to our animals.

From food to chemicals, we have to be diligent about what our pets have access to. It can be very scary to discover your pet has eaten something you know is toxic. It’s important to remain calm while you assess the situation. Our fur kids can often tell when we are scared and stressed, and can feel the effects. You’ll also be able to think more clearly and act quickly and efficiently to save your pet’s life. Here’s a guide if your pet comes in contact with something toxic.

1. Ingredients

If you witness your pet eating the toxic substance, quickly remove the food or plant item and pet from the area. Write down all the information from the label or take a photo. Watch your pet for symptoms and changes in breathing, but know that they may act relatively normal at first even if they’ve been poisoned. If you notice your pet breathing strangely or acting erratically but didn’t see them eating anything, place them in a safe location with a family member while you search for the potential toxin.

2. Call the Pet Poison Helpline or vet

The Pet Poison Helpline is a great resource for these types of situations. They may have a consultation fee for their services. You can program their number on your phone (ph# 855-764-7661) for easy access. Always call your vet directly first in case your pet needs to be brought in asap.

3. Do not induce vomiting or give medication

Unless specifically directed by your vet, do not give your pet any home remedies for poisoning or attempt to induce vomiting.

4. Transport safely

If the situation is serious, the helpline or your vet may direct you to bring your pet in for an emergency visit. Try getting them into their travel carrier if you can to keep them safe and comfortable in the car. If possible, have someone else drive you there so that you can sit with your pet in the car and keep an eye on them.

5. Remove any toxic substances

After the situation is over and your pet is safe, review what it was they ate and where they got it from. Consider moving the item to a new location to prevent future issues.

Toxic holiday plants

There are five plants that are very popular during the holidays. These all need to be placed in a location that pets cannot reach. Always consider pine needles too since they easily fall off the tree.

  • Poinsettias
  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Pine
  • Amaryllis

Holiday cheer that can make pets sick

Anywhere your pet goes without supervision can turn into a disaster during the holidays. Perhaps your office space was recently decorated for the holidays or your roommate hung up lights and left baked goods on the counter. If the office is a popular location for your pets take a good look and walk through the space before you let your dog roam free. Items that can cause trouble include:

  • Chocolate
  • Candles
  • Low-hanging ornaments on holiday trees
  • Fruit cake with raisins
  • Any holiday items made with Xylitol (candy canes)
  • Anything within your pet’s reach!

Please ask our staff if you have questions about any of these items. They can help recommend safe pet-friendly ideas for the house. Happy holidays!