Pet First Aid: Pet Poisoning from Garden To Garage

Claire Dunling

It’s right when most people say their pets are like family. This is why we’re forever casting a watchful gaze when they’re snooping around the garden, sniffing around the flower beds or keeping watch as they curiously check out the shed. If you’ve been in emergency pet poisoning scenario, you’ll be well aware of how quickly things can escalate. Do you know what garden and garage elements can cause serious health complications or what symptoms to look out for?

Pesticides (insecticides, rodenticides or herbicides)

During the summer months, poisoning in dogs from ingesting insecticides is quite a common complaint in the emergency vet waiting room. Perhaps surprisingly, poisoning can even occasionally occur from grooming themselves after brushing past a recently treated hedge or rolling around on the lawn. The offending chemicals most usually associated with cat and dog poisoning are organophosphates (OP) and carbamates, which can also be found in other pest control products. Common symptoms of poisoning are vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and tremors.

With the number of visits made to emergency vet clinics for poisoning suggests more awareness needs to be raised.  Of course, there is the factor that you may be unaware of treated areas on your walks or if you’ve come into contact with a recently flea treated pet. It’s also difficult to stop your pets from exploring the garden and going into the areas that they shouldn’t be when your back is turned. So, have a browse online for a chemical-free product. Or visit your local garden centre where you can speak to an assistant for one-on-one advice on the safest pesticides for pets.


Antifreeze or engine cooler is the liquid that keeps water from freezing up in our cars but also prevents the engine from overheating. After particularly cold winters, it’s not unusual for pipes to crack and antifreeze to leak over driveways and garage floors. Similarly to rodenticides, the taste of antifreeze is highly palatable to dogs and cats. The chemical ethylene glycol is highly toxic and can be fatal if left untreated so it is especially important to make sure that any spills are cleaned up and containers are put away. Even if your pet ingests just a small amount and appears fine, they could still develop kidney failure later on so paying a visit to the vets is essential if you have any suspicions of antifreeze poisoning.

Slug pellets

To stop slugs and snails munching on your lettuces during the summer months, you’ll be looking for an effective deterrent to protect your hard toil. The toxic agent metaldehyde is found in most commercial slug pellets and is highly poisonous to dogs and cats. It’s important to know that your pet could become ill simply by licking their paws after walking on grounds treated by pellets. In this instance, be mindful where you walk your dog and make sure to clean their paws and/or muzzles when you return from walks.

Wildflowers and weeds

Consuming wildflowers or weeds could affect your pet to varying degrees; certain parts of some plants can cause anything from an upset tummy to being lethally poisoning. On walks or even in your back garden, you may encounter the toxic Giant Hogweed – an Asian weed that grows rapidly during the summer months. The weed is considered as the most dangerous plant in Britain and causes severe burns, blisters and blindness in humans and animals. Other toxic wildflowers to be aware of are, Ragwort, Deadly Nightshade, Angels Trumpet, Foxtails and Yarrow. Have a look at our infographic below which gives some detail on some of the most common and wildflowers and weeds that are toxic to dogs in the UK.

Accidents happen. Something’s just cannot be avoided, unfortunately. But if you’re aware of the seemingly harmless poisons around your garden, and are prepared for an emergency, the chances of recovering are more likely. Some of the most common symptoms of dog poisoning are vomiting, convulsions, respiratory issues and diarrhoea. If they’ve eaten a chemical product, you may notice chemical burns around the mouth, nose and tongue. If you have any suspicions that your pet has ingested any type or amount of poison, consult your local vets as soon as possible.

This ‘Pet First Aid: Poisons from Garden to Garage’ article is for guidance only and if you have any concerns about your pet you should always seek the advice of a qualified vet.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!