5 Things Dogs Ingest That Require Emergency Care

Dr. Laura de Armas

Apr 30, 2021

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If you own a dog, you are probably already well aware of how much your dog tries to eat everything! Dogs explore their world through their mouths – they chew and retrieve objects, their mouths are essentially the equivalent of our hands. Their sense of smell and taste are intricately developed, and this sometimes causes them to ingest something they shouldn’t. Some dogs are more prone to doing this than others, but all dogs have the potential to eat something that could be dangerous for them.

In this article, we’ll show you five of the most common substances dogs sometimes ingest that require treatment by an emergency vet. All of these situations can be dangerous ones, and the sooner you get your dog to the emergency vet after he ingests these items, the better his chances of recovery will be.

Read on to learn more about these dangerous substances.


Dogs have a strong bite force and have the ability to chew through and swallow pieces of even the toughest plastics. Many dog toys are made out of plastic or contain plastic pieces (squeakers, buttons, etc), which means that dogs are already going to be very exposed to plastics. If the toy breaks, snaps, or chips, it’s almost inevitable that the dog playing with it will swallow a piece of the toy. Additionally, dog treats and food are often kept in plastic recipients and we have seen dogs get into a bag of treats or a leftovers container and inadvertently consume plastic pieces.

If your dog swallows a piece of plastic, contact the emergency vet right away. While you are calling, check your dog’s mouth and teeth for any objects. It is possible that the piece might be stuck in your dog’s mouth where you can easily remove it.

If not, however, proceed with bringing your dog to the emergency vet.


Curious dogs may find their way into medicine cabinets in the bathroom or elsewhere in the home. When this happens, there is a chance your dog could get into one or more human medications found in there. Additionally, if you happen to drop some pills on the floor, your dog might swoop in and eat them thinking they were a delicious treat before you have a chance to stop him.

It is also possible for dogs to eat too much of their own medication, especially if it has been flavored in some way to make it more appetizing to them. If your dog ingests too much dog medication or any human medication at all, this should be treated as a serious emergency.

Toxic Plants

Many houseplants and common yard and garden plants are toxic to dogs. Some plants are fully toxic, while others may only be toxic if the dog ingests specific parts of the plan such as flowers, leaves, or fruit. When in doubt if a specific plant is toxic, don’t use it in or around your home.

If your dog ingests any part of a plant you’re unsure about, contact your emergency vet immediately. The vet may let you know over the phone if there’s nothing to worry about. However, if there is any uncertainty, you will need to take your dog to the vet to be examined.

(Some) Human Food

There are many kinds of human food that dogs can eat, even if they shouldn’t have it often. However, there are also several human foods that are toxic or harmful to dogs. Some of these include garlic, onions, grapes, avocados, chocolate, and alcohol. There are many others to be wary of as well. Additionally, eating any new food (especially if high in fat or seasoning) can trigger severe vomiting and diarrhea in your dog that can be life threatening if left untreated.

If your dog eats any toxic food items or new human food, contact the emergency vet right away. Depending on the amount and type of food, the situation might be more or less of an emergency. The vet will help you decide whether or not your dog needs emergency vet care.


Another very dangerous substance dogs can ingest is household cleaners. These chemical-based liquids sometimes smell or look enticing to a dog, which causes some dogs to want to lap them up. This is very dangerous, however, and even just a small amount of an ingested cleaner can be fatal if not treated right away.

Take your dog to the emergency vet immediately if he ingests any household cleaners. If you have the bottle available, bring it with you so the vet can be more well informed about what your dog has eaten and can implement more effective treatments.

Contact an Emergency Vet if Your Dog Ingests a Dangerous Substance

These items are not the only potentially dangerous substances dogs might ingest, although they do cover many possibilities. Any time your dog eats anything he shouldn’t, please call a vet and keep a close eye on him in the coming hours for signs of distress. And if you know he’s eaten something especially dangerous, such as a chemical cleaner or a piece of plastic, take him to the vet immediately without waiting.

The quicker you react to an emergency situation such as your dog ingesting an object or contaminant, the more likely he will be to make a full recovery. Your vet or emergency vet will work to determine where the object is located in your dog’s body and what symptoms your dog is showing. From there, the vet will help remove the object or treat for the ingested toxin/substance, depending on the situation.

If you have any questions about what you should do, VEG has over 20 convenient locations, many of which are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You’ll be able to speak directly to an emergency veterinarian who will be able to guide you on the next steps you should take for your pet’s care.