What are the most common causes of poisoning in dogs?

What are the most common causes of poisoning in dogs?

Health & Safety

Viewed objectively, dogs aren’t that good at keeping themselves safe, and the phrase “look before you leap” as a caution could almost have come into being with dogs in mind! Dogs are very much of the act first and regret later school of behaviour, and never is this truer than when it comes to what they eat.

Dogs explore the world with their mouths and will often eat things or pick them up with their mouths just to find out what they are, as most dog owners know only too well. This naturally causes problems for many dogs, as they are apt to sometimes ingest foods that are poisonous for them; or even to ingest things that aren’t food at all and which are also acutely dangerous.

If you’ve ever wondered what the most common causes of poisoning in dogs are in terms of those most frequently seen by vets and the things most likely to result in the need for an emergency veterinary visit, this article has some answers.

Based on information collated by vets and reported to various pet poison helplines, read on to find out the most common causes of poisoning in dogs – which will hopefully give you a heads up and enable you to reduce the chances of your own dog falling foul of them.

The most common cause of poisoning in dogs: Toxic foods

Plenty of foods that are fine or even healthful for people have the opposite effect on dogs, and the most common cause of poisoning in dogs overall is dogs eating human foods that are toxic to them.

This is partially due to availability; if you eat something and keep it in your home, your dog is exponentially more likely to be able to get their paws on it, and coupled with this, not all dog owners are fully conversant with quite how many human foods are dangerous for dogs in total.

The human foods that result in the most cases of poisoning in dogs include chocolate, the artificial sweetener Xylitol, and grapes and grape-based products like raisins. To further compound matters, both chocolate and Xylitol also make the list of the foods that are most acutely dangerous to dogs if ingested, as well as the most common.

The second most common cause of poisoning in dogs: Insecticides

This one comes as a surprise to many dog owners, but insecticides are the second most common cause of poisoning in dogs. Organophosphates such as those used to kill garden pests like greenfly, and some other products used to kill parasites and pests are common causes of poisoning in dogs.

This is slightly less of an issue in the UK than it is in general worldwide, as we have rather stricter laws on what can and cannot be sold in products for home use, but overall, this is the second most common type of dog poison.

The third most common cause of poisoning in dogs: Rodenticides

Rodenticides are poisons designed to kill rats, mice and other rodents, and this is the third most common cause of poisoning incidents in dogs.

There are a couple of ways in which dogs might ingest rodenticides and which increase the risks of dogs being poisoned by them. The first of these is by ingesting the poison directly, such as by finding a baited trap, or simply via poor storage procedures at home. Rodenticides are designed to be palatable so that the pest in question finds them appealing to eat, but unfortunately, this means dogs that come into contact with them might find them appealing to eat too.

Additionally, a rodent that has ingested rodenticide and that is in the process of being poisoned is more likely to slow and unable to protect itself, increasing the risk of it being caught and eaten by a dog – poisoning the dog in its turn. This is a particular problem in dogs like Jack Russells and other breeds that were originally bred for pest control and that have a strong prey drive.

NSAID human medications are the fourth most common canine poison

The fourth most common cause of poisoning in dogs is the ingestion of human non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDS, which include medications like Ibuprofen. Other NSAID medications are used in some cases for dogs in veterinary clinics, but human NSAIDS are not intended for dogs; their full list of ingredients and also dosages make them very dangerous to dogs.

Dogs might ingest such medications by accident if they are stored incorrectly, but a more common risk is well meaning dog owners thinking that they can give such medicines to their own pets, when in fact they will make them very ill.

Acidic or alkaline cleaners are the fifth most common cause of poisoning in dogs

Finally, a number of household cleaners that have a high acidity or alkalinity level are the fifth most common cause of poisoning in dogs, which is something that few dog owners are aware of.

Some such products have a fruity scent and dogs might say, lick a wet floor that has been mopped with such a product, or drink from a toilet bowl that has been cleaned with one, or that has a scented rim block in place.

Take care with such products and how they are used and stored, and of course, if your dog is the type to drink from the toilet, take steps to prevent this!

Newsletter icon
Get free tips and resources delivered directly to your inbox.


Pets for StudWanted Pets

Accessories & services


Knowledge Hub


Support & Safety Portal
All Pets for Sale