What to do if your pet eats something toxic

pet eats something toxic

It’s amazing just how crafty our pets can be, patiently waiting for any gap in our pet proofing to guzzle things they know they shouldn’t. When this scavenging habit lands them in toxic trouble, a fast response is critical. 


Follow these steps to act quickly and decisively when your pet eats something concerning:

Check your pet first. If you notice any worrisome signs, such as labored breathing, weakness, shaking, lack of coordination or vomiting, skip the rest of these steps and go immediately to your veterinary hospital.

Note the details. Try to find out exactly what your pet ate. For example, if your cat ate a lily, was it an Easter lily, peace lily, lily of the valley or one of the many other types of lilies? For food and products, identify all ingredients or chemicals and their concentrations. Do your best to guess how much your pet ate and how long ago they ate it.

Call a professional. Dial your veterinarian or reach out to our 24/7 Live Chat* veterinary professionals through the myVCA app. Based on the information you collected, they’ll tell you how serious your pet’s situation is and advise you on how to proceed.

Head to the hospital. If recommended to go, don’t wait! Go directly to the nearest veterinary hospital. In many cases, your veterinarian will induce your pet to vomit so as to remove the toxin from the stomach before it has a chance to be absorbed.

But what if the nearest veterinary hospital is too far away? 

Your veterinarian has the safest, fastest and most effective ways to induce your pet to vomit, which is why it’s best to take your pet in. However, a very long drive will give the toxin time to get absorbed from the stomach, in which case it may be best to get your pet to throw up at home.

Always consult a veterinarian before attempting this. Inducing vomiting can be dangerous in certain situations. For example, batteries can cause worse injury as they come up, dogs with short snouts (like pugs and bulldogs) are prone to aspiration and no safe OTC way exists at all to make cats vomit. So you absolutely must get the green light from your veterinarian before proceeding.

Vomiting at home is induced in dogs with hydrogen peroxide. Your veterinarian will walk you through how to do it and how much to give. Be prepared for this possibility by stocking 3% hydrogen peroxide and either a feeding syringe or a turkey baster in your dog’s emergency kit. 



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*Live Chat with a licensed veterinary professional is free for VCA clients through the myVCA mobile app, available at Apple’s App Store and Google Play.