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What is Drug Poisoning?

Drug poisoning is a common problem for dogs and it may occur in a variety of ways. Any dose of a medication designed for humans, whether prescribed or over the counter, can have adverse effects in a dog due to lower body weight and differences in metabolism. An overdose of a medication that was prescribed by the veterinarian for your dog can also cause poisoning. Poisoning may occur through the misguided intentions of an owner (such as giving a dog an over the counter pain medication designed for humans), or accidental ingestion from a bottle left open or a lid chewed off by your dog. Many pills are sweet tasting and your dog may see them as a treat. Both situations can have serious consequences and your dog will need immediate treatment by a veterinarian. Mild cases are reversible, but severe overdose can cause long term damage or death.

Many different drugs can cause poisoning in dogs when they are not given as prescribed. This is especially true of medications that were intended for humans. Veterinarians define medication overdose in dogs as drug poisoning. Depending on the drug and the amount ingested, this can cause serious illness and even death.

Drug Poisoning Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Drug Poisoning in Dogs

Different symptoms can be present depending on the medication in question. These are some of the most common signs of drug poisoning in dogs. You should take your dog to a veterinarian immediately if you think poisoning is a possibility.

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling or excessive salivation
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Disorientation
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Agitation
  • Irregular heartbeat (very rapid or too slow)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Lethargy
  • Depressed breathing
  • Seizures
  • Stupor and coma

Types

There are two situations which lead to drug poisoning in dogs.

  • Overdose of a prescribed medication
  • Any dose of a human medication

Accidental and intentional overdose is possible in either of these situations. If a dog gains access to the medication accidentally, a more severe overdose is likely to occur.

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Causes of Drug Poisoning in Dogs

These are some of the common drugs that could cause poisoning in your dog.

NSAID’s

  • Aspirin
  • Tylenol
  • Ibuprofen/Advil
  • Naproxen/Aleve/Motrin

Antidepressants, seizure and anxiety medication

  • Benzodiazepines (diazepam and lorazepam among others)
  • Barbiturates
  • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Tricyclic antidepressants 

Other Sleep aids

ADD/ADHD medication

  • Ritalin
  • AdderallBirth control pills

Birth control pills

Heart  and blood pressure medication

  •  Calcium channel blocker
  • BETA blockers
  • ACE inhibitors

Medications to lower cholesterol

  •  Lipitor
  • Zocor
  • Crestor

Diuretics

Muscle relaxants

Some topical agents

  •  5 fluorouracil – used to treat skin cancer
  • Calcipotriene – psoriasis medicine

Chemotherapy Drugs

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Diagnosis of Drug Poisoning in Dogs

If you know what drug your dog has been exposed to, this will help considerably with the diagnosis. Bring along the bottle containing the medication you think your dog ingested so that the veterinarian can check the exact ingredients and dosage. It’s also extremely helpful to know the exact time that the poisoning took place. If you didn’t actually see your dog ingest the drug, it’s important to note when symptoms became apparent, as well as the exact nature and severity of the symptoms.

The veterinarian will examine your dog for vital signs, especially blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Bloodwork will often be done to check blood oxygen levels and ascertain the degree of the toxicity. Urine tests can also help to determine this. Many medications can cause kidney or liver failure, so additional tests may be done to determine the functionality of these systems.

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Treatment of Drug Poisoning in Dogs

If you don’t have immediate access to a veterinarian, calling a poison control hotline for dogs can be a helpful first treatment. Describe the details to the operator, including what drug you think your dog ingested as well as how much and when the poisoning took place. With some drugs, the operator may advise you to induce vomiting by giving your dog hydrogen peroxide with milk or through an eye-dropper. Follow any instructions you are given exactly and get your dog to an emergency treatment facility as soon as possible.

For poisoning that occurred recently, the veterinarian will induce vomiting or have your dog’s stomach pumped to limit further absorption. Activated charcoal is often given if the poisoning occurred within the last few hours. This medication will bind to the drug in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and help to prevent it from being absorbed. Drugs which have a delayed release may need several doses of charcoal administered over a longer period of time.

Fluids are given in almost all cases of drug poisoning. This will help to maintain blood pressure, as well as diluting the drug and flushing it out of the system faster. Depending on the type of drug that was ingested, medications may be given to support heart or respiratory function.  Central nervous system symptoms such as seizures, tremors, or excessive agitation will also need to be controlled. Your dog will need to stay in a veterinary hospital overnight at the very least, and probably for several days, to ensure that all the systems have returned to normal. Vital signs will be monitored regularly and treatment will be adjusted to control the symptoms until the drug is completely flushed out. The veterinarian will try to treat any damage that has occurred through the poisoning.

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Recovery of Drug Poisoning in Dogs

Recovery will depend on the drug, the amount that was ingested, and the immediacy of treatment. Some dogs can recover from even very severe overdoses if they get to the veterinarian right away. Cases where the poisoning was not discovered until later or the cause is unknown are much harder to treat. Your dog’s prognosis will depend on the diagnoses of a veterinarian.

Prevention of drug poisoning is the best form of management. Always act sensibly with your dog’s medications: only give the prescribed dose and avoid giving anything that was designed for humans. Other safeguards include keeping medications in a locked cabinet, or on a high shelf which your dog cannot reach. Don’t leave bottle or tubes lying around even if they are sealed. Many dogs can easily chew through a plastic bottle and may even see it as a new toy.

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Drug Poisoning Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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Drug Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Chihuahua

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Eleven Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking

My dog had ate a tablet of 25 mg Benadryl and chewed a little on another one, now he is shaking like he’s cold. He’ll stop for a little bit but then start back up. He’s drowsy and can barely walk straight. He’s 11 lbs very energetic and playful.

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello It sounds like your pet ingested an over dose Benadryl. Drowsiness is a common side effect of that medication but there is not much that can be done at this point. It is an anti-histamine therefore not toxic at all. You will have to wait until it wears off, which can take up to 12 hours. If you are very concerned, I recommend taking him to see a veterinarian for an exam. Good luck.

Aug. 5, 2020

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Pomeranian

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3 month

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Nasal Discharge

My 2 pound pomeranian ate half a 20mg tablet of prednisone, that was prescribed for my older dog.

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That is a really high dose of steroid for your dog, as a one-time dose, that may not cause any problems, but I would be very aware of any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite, and if any of those occur I would have your dog seen immediately by a veterinarian. I hope that everything goes okay.

Aug. 5, 2020

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Shih Tzu

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

No Symptoms Yet

Hi- my 10lbs dog ingested about 6 pills of canine prescribed pain medication about 40 minutes ago. Not showing any symptoms but concerned about what I should do.

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without knowing what the medication is or the strength, I cannot comment on what might happen. It would be best to either call your Veterinary Clinic, an emergency veterinary clinic that is open, or a pet poison hotline. They will need the name of the medication, the strength of the medication, and your dog's weight. They will be able to let you know more what steps need to be taken next. I hope that your dog is okay.

July 30, 2020

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Boston Terrier

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

I woke up by extending my foot into something wet on the bed. It was watery diarrhea. Came out to the living room and found he got into an old storage bin and I believe it was ciproflaxin or a High dose of ibuprofen. The bottle was destroyed. I have no idea how many he ate

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. If you think he got into these medications, it would be best to see your vet as he is already showing signs of toxicity. Your vet can assess what is going on and get him treated right away. I hope your dog feels better soon.

July 30, 2020

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Shiba Inu

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Just Took It

Over does she took two pills

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If your dog took two of her simparica pills, that should not be a problem, other than she may have a GI upset. If she has any vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite, it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian. I suspect you will see none of this, however as there is a wide safety range in that medication. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 29, 2020

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#1. Sharon #2. Ozzy

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Pit-Bull

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Not Responding
Really Sleepy
8 Week Pit-Bull Keeps Shaking

I have two pit-bulls. I accidentally dropped a 500 milligram acetaminophen and I guess the dogs found it the next day the bigger pit-bull I guess he tried to eat it and left about half and the little pit-bull ate the rest I am really scared considering the little pit-bull is 8-weeks old. This is scary because my mom will not believe me.

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Chewy

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Chiweenie fiest

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2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness

My dog chewy got ahold of my Theraflu night time. Maybe within the last hour. Idk how much he ingeated. And I have 3 more dogs that where there when he done it.

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Ozzy

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Border Collie

dog-age-icon

5 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Hyperactivity
Anxiety
Confused
Unsettled
Extreme Hyperact

Our doggy found the medicine box while we’re out and ingested paracetamol (3 tablets, about 600mg) along with some homeopathic (plant-based) cough tablets (3 of them) and a couple of charcoal pills. We took him to the vet maximum 1.30- 2 hours after he’d ingested them and the vets have taken blood tests, treatment is with IV fluids and he’s staying for observation. Today we’ve been told that his tests have come out okay, but when seeing our pup he’s just so nervous and unresponsivE it’s mental. We’re so worried. Please, let me know if anyone has experienced anything similar.

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Loki

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German Mix

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Vomiting
Salivation
Lack Of Appetite

My dog got diagnosed with atopic dermatitis and immune mediated allegric reaction. He was applied a lotion for the dermatitis on his skin and was prescribed keflex and evion. Ever since I started the medication he vomitted and lost all his weight. I took him to the doctor they said that the medications were no problem he might've licked the lotion which is called I guess Alumina Lotion. Any help please.

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Diego

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German Shorthaired Pointer Chocolate Lab Mix

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4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

None

My dog Diego ate 55 Rimadyl (for dogs) medication. We took him to the vet 30 minutes - 2 hours after he ingested the pills. He showed no symptoms. Upon immediately arriving, the vet made him vomit, but they could not find Rimadyl in his vomit (but I am sure he ate the Rimadyl). They are currently treating him with activated charcoal and an IV fluid flush. Any word on his possible prognosis? The vets do not know but will not give us an estimate.

Drug Poisoning Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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