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Poison Prevention

Poison Prevention

By: Shirley Greene


All of us want to be the very best pet owners possible. We love our poodles and know that we must provide a nutritious diet, fresh water and regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Training them to be good canine citizens and giving them lots of affection insures we’ll have a wonderful bond for many years to come.

Part of being a responsible pet owner also means going the extra mile to educate ourselves about potential dangers to our pets. Such a danger that faces our poodles is accidental poisoning from common foods, plants and household products.

Nothing is more heartbreaking for a pet parent than accidentally allowing harm to come to their dog. With basic knowledge, each of us can practice poison prevention. With a little effort, we can avoid a tragedy and potentially fatal consequences from a pet’s encounter with common people-only-foods, plants and items found around our home.

Here are some common poison dangers for pets. If you have any questions about items that may or may not be a danger to your poodle, please contact a poison control center, animal emergency clinic or your veterinarian health care provider.

Common Foods That May Poison Dogs:

Wild Mushrooms – it is often difficult for experts to tell safe-to-eat from poisonous. Therefore, make it a rule to never allow your dog to eat any wild mushrooms found in your yard or on walks in your local parks or woods. Should your dog eat one, be sure and take a sample with you to the emergency center so that they may identify the variety and start appropriate treatment.

Walnuts – are poisonous to dogs and should be avoided. There is a fungus that is common to wet, deadfall walnuts that can cause episodes of seizures and make the walnuts even more hazardous. Almonds, peanuts and Brazil nuts appear to be okay, but give them only in small amounts and not too often.

Macadamia nuts – contain a very toxic compound that causes tremor in the skeletal muscles and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. The hindquarters may become very painful and limbs may be swollen to the point the dog is unable to stand.

Chocolate – chocolate contains a substance called theobromine that is toxic to pets. The level of the toxicity depends upon the size of the dog and the amount of chocolate eaten. One-half of an ounce of baking chocolate, or less, per pound of body weight may result in seizures, cardiac abnormalities or pancreatic problems.

Spices – avoid giving your dog spices or foods that contain them. Common spices like nutmeg or mace may be very dangerous and even in small amounts can cause irritation to the mouth, throat and gastrointestinal tract.

Grapes/Raisins – can poison your poodle.

Onions and Garlic – Both contain a toxic ingredient called thiosulphate. Raw onions can trigger hemolytic anemia in dogs. A small or moderate amount of garlic powder, added to food, is acceptable and will not harm your pup.

Pits –The kernels of plums, peaches, cherries and apricots and the pips of pears and apple cores contain cyanogenic glycosides and eating them can result in cyanide poisoning.

Leaves/Stems – the green leaves and stems of tomato plans, as well as rhubarb leaves, are toxic to your dog.

Potato – any potato that looks green, or potato peelings from it, can poison your pup.

Broccoli – give in very small amounts, only; large amounts are not safe.

Yeast dough.

Coffee/tea/energy drinks – coffee beans, coffee grounds and loose or bagged tea contain caffeine are dangerous for your dog, as is Red Bull and similar products.

Sugar substitutes – any product containing the sugar substitute xylitol can poison your pet.

The best rule of thumb is: “When in doubt, don’t.”

Flea and Tick Control:

Call your veterinarian health care provider and thoroughly discuss what types of flea and tick products are appropriate for your pet. Never purchase over the counter remedies for use in your home, or on your pet, without getting prior veterinary approval. Read the directions thoroughly and make sure you have no unanswered questions before proceeding.

Be extremely wary of any product that is designed for you to spray in your home, especially flea or tick bombs that produce a fog. These can be extremely toxic and dangerous to people and pets. Speak with your veterinarian and a pest control expert before attempting such an application yourself.

Common Plants that Pose A Threat:

Many indoor and outdoor plants can poison a curious pup that explores the world with his/her mouth. Any dog that ingests azalea, oleander, mistletoe, sago palm, Easter lily, milkweed or yew plant materials must receive immediate medical attention. Many other household plants could be fatal to your dog.

One of the best resources for additional information is the Poison Control Center of Michigan. From A to Z, their site lists indoor and outdoor plants in alphabetic order for easy reference. Before adding landscaping or potted plants to your home, check out this valuable reference at:

Human Medications/Supplements/Vitamins:

Never give a prescription medication intended for human use to your dog. Over-the-counter preparations for people, such as pain relievers like aspirin; acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be toxic to animals, too. Never give them to your dog without prior veterinary approval.

Dogs are not people in fur coats; their physiology differs from ours. Even vitamins, minerals and supplements intended for you could poison your pet.

Be sure to keep all medication containers, tubes and blister packets in a closed drawer or cabinet that cannot be reached or opened by your pet.

I dropped my pill:

If you drop any tablet or capsule make sure you locate it at once. Never decide to look for it later, even if you are running late. Animals have the uncanny ability to locate even the smallest pill in the deepest plush carpet, behind the dresser or under the bed. Don’t let your slippery fingers result in an untimely death for your pet.

Not only can dogs crawl under objects, they can climb on them. I’ll never forget finding my toy poodle on top of the china hutch. She’d used decorative carvings as a ladder and climbed right up to the top and couldn’t get down. Make sure nothing that could poison your dog is left out on a countertop or shelf.

Three Life Saving Commands:

The first command I teach any new dog in my household is: “LEAVE IT.” The second command is “OUT,” meaning “SPIT IT OUT, RIGHT NOW.” The third command is “WAIT,” which says freeze right where you are. These three commands can save their lives in a variety of circumstances and are easy to teach, practice and reinforce using toys and treats. 

Common Products – House, Yard, Garage:


Liquid potpourris or fragrance oils

Dryer sheets

Household cleaning products – cleansers, soaps, caustics, pine oil products, etc.


Toilet bowl cleaners – especially if your dog drinks from the commode

Batteries – ingestion can be lethal

Any tobacco product

Alcoholic beverages


Antifreeze – it tastes sweet and pets love it. As little as one tablespoon can kill a ten-pound dog.


Paint/paint thinner

Ice melting crystals – irritate the skin and the mouth and should not be ingested.


Pool sanitation products, such as chlorine tablets and acid

Cocoa mulch




Pesticides, fly bait, mole or gopher bait and rat poison must be secured so that there is absolutely no possible way for your pet to come into contract with the container or the product, especially if bait balls have been placed in your house, yard or garage. A bait product will contain ingredients that enhance its taste and smell making it very attractive to pets, as well as pests.

For me, there is too much danger of accidental poisoning for any bait product. Instead, I use all-natural alternatives that are recommended for homes with children and pets.

If you suspect your pet has accidentally tasted any poison, seek veterinary medical attention at once. Be sure to take the product, or its label, with you.

Poison Control Resources:

  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) maintains a 24-hour poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435. There is a consultation fee that you can charge to a credit card.

  • The Animal Poison Control Center at 1-900-680-0000. Note: this is a #900 number and you will be charged.

  • A recognized expert on pet poisoning is:

Jill A. Richardson, DVM.
Veterinary Poison Information Specialist
ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center

1717 Philo Road, Suite #36 
Urbana, IL 61801

(217) 337-5030

** You may wish to keep her name and number handy in case your veterinarian or local emergency animal hospital needs to consult with an expert.


Did you know that swallowing a penny could cause zinc poisoning in your pet? Did you consider that tobacco products contain nicotine, which can make your dog have severe vomiting, elevated heart rate, a drop in blood pressure, possible seizures, respiratory failure and even death?

Before bringing a poodle into your home, look objectively at each room to determine what possible dangers may be lurking at your dog’s level of sight. Remember that dogs love to explore and can crawl under and jump up to reach items that attract their attention. Keeping poisons out of their reach is part of ensuring a safe environment for a curious canine. If a dog cannot reach it, a dog cannot ingest it.

A little pre-planning can reap huge rewards. Write down the number of your emergency veterinary clinic and keep it in your car and wallet, as well as by the phone. Ask your veterinarian’s advice before using any product to control parasites on your dog or in your home. Never give your dog medication without prior veterinary approval. Think before sharing people-food with your pet. Teach your dog the three lifesaving commands and practice them regularly.

It really is much easier to be safe than sorry. Now go hug your poodle.

October 2006.

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