My Dog Ate Something Bad, Now What?

Five Minutes
May 07, 2024

Did your dog eat something they shouldn’t have? Well, you’re not alone! Pups commonly get into things they shouldn’t when they’re bored or smell something tasty. Read on to learn what to do when your dog eats common household items and how pet insurance can help cover costs in an emergency.

Signs My Dog Ate Something Bad

Dogs navigate through the world with their noses and mouths, which means they can get into all sorts of things when we aren’t looking. If your dog swallowed something they shouldn’t have, they may show symptoms, like:¹

Keep in mind that some of these symptoms take a few days to develop, while others become apparent immediately. The onset of symptoms often depends on factors like what your pet ate and how much they consumed, as well as your pet’s size.

My Dog Ate My Medicine

Here’s what to look for and immediate steps to take:2,3,4

Drug Type


What To Do

Ibuprofen (Advil® and Motrin®)

Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, seizures, coma

Take your dog to an emergency vet

Naproxen (Aleve®)

Black stools, stumbling, pale mucous membranes

Take your dog to an emergency vet

Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)

Usually not seen in dogs unless doses are high, but high doses can cause liver failure and red blood cell damage

Take your dog to an emergency vet


Agitation, confusion, lethargy, fever, muscle contractions, constipation, serotonin syndrome

Take your dog to an emergency vet

Muscle Relaxants

Drooling, vomiting, vocalization (e.g., whimpering), lack of coordination, seizures

Take your dog to an emergency vet

If you suspect your dog has ingested something dangerous, you may also want to call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center Hotline at (888) 426-4435 for immediate advice. Consultation fees may apply, but it could be worth it to get faster help for your dog.

A MetLife Pet Policy Can Cover Emergency Vet Costs

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Ibuprofen, Aleve®, Tylenol®

These OTC (over-the-counter) medications are used to reduce fever and pain in humans. Because they’re so prevalent in homes, they can be easy for dogs to get into. Ibuprofen (under brands such as Advil® and Motrin®), Aleve® (Naproxen), and Tylenol® (acetaminophen) can be highly toxic to dogs. A single pill ingested by a dog can result in gastrointestinal distress — or worse.2,4

Toxicity symptoms

Exact symptoms depend on your dog’s breed and the type and amount of drug ingested, but may include:4

What to do

Call the Animal Poison Control Hotline — (888) 426-4435. Consultation fees may apply.

Take your dog to an emergency vet.

If you suspect your dog ate any of these OTC medicines, it’s highly recommended to call the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) for guidance. Make sure to have the pill bottle in hand so you can tell the representative the specific brand, the dosage of the medication, and an estimate of how many pills your dog may have consumed. Next, it’s best to call your vet or an emergency vet for a thorough exam and treatment. This may involve:4

  • Induced vomiting (if the medication was recently ingested)
  • Activated charcoal
  • Laxatives to empty the bowels
  • Fluid administration to encourage urination
  • Blood transfusions

Prescription medications

There are a lot of prescription medications that might be lying around your home. Dogs commonly eat prescriptions that pet parents leave out.2 Medications people take for depression, anxiety, pain, and other illnesses don’t affect dogs the same way they affect people.

Toxicity symptoms

Medications like antidepressants and muscle relaxants often cause dogs to become disoriented, shaky/twitchy, and lethargic.3 In extreme cases, certain medications can lead to severe illness and death.2 Antidepressants can also cause something known as serotonin syndrome, due to an increase in free serotonin in your dog’s body.3 Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:3

  • Agitation
  • Altered mental state
  • Involuntary muscle contractions
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Problems with coordination
  • Fever

What to do

Call the Animal Poison Control Hotline — (888) 426-4435. Consultation fees may apply.

Take your dog to an emergency vet.

If your dog eats your medication, it’s best to call the APCC and bring your dog to an emergency vet. Make sure you bring the prescription bottles with you so the vet knows exactly what’s been ingested. They will likely want to remove any trace of the medication from your dog’s digestive tract, which is done with induced vomiting and activated charcoal. Laxatives may be used to empty the bowels.3 Your vet will also likely administer medications to treat the symptoms of poisoning until your pup recovers.3

Additional medication safety tips

Human medications that have been accidentally ingested by pets are one of the top causes of pet poisoning.2 Here are some tips to help keep your pets safe:

  • Don’t leave pills and pill bottles anywhere your pet can get to easily.
  • Pick up dropped pills off the floor immediately.
  • Never give your pet medication without explicit permission from your vet.

My Dog Ate Plastic

What to do: Take your dog to an emergency vet.

Plastic is found in many household items, including cups, remotes, and even our pet’s toys. Any amount of plastic your dog eats should be treated as an emergency. Plastic can easily puncture your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, leading to life-threatening internal bleeding and costly emergency vet bills.

Symptoms of plastic ingestion

Your dog’s symptoms may vary depending on the size and amount of plastic they’ve ingested. For instance, small pieces might pass through their body without any trouble. Larger pieces, however, could cause vomiting, diarrhea, or — conversely — an intestinal blockage.5

Treatment for ingested plastic

If you suspect your dog has eaten plastic, it’s recommended to take your pup to the emergency clinic so a vet can perform an ultrasound and take X-rays to locate a foreign object.5

Depending on the size of the swallowed plastic object, surgery may be required to prevent further damage to your pet’s internal organs.5 In other cases, your vet may be able to induce vomiting to remove the plastic.

My Dog Ate Something in My Bathroom

The best course of action is to try your best to keep your dog out of the bathroom and away from potential hazards. But things happen to even the most attentive pet parents, so here’s what you need to know about common items dogs may swallow in our bathrooms.

Tampons and pads

What to do: Call an emergency vet.

If your dog ate a tampon or pad, they’re at risk of choking or intestinal blockages. You should treat this sort of incident as an emergency and contact your emergency vet as soon as possible.

While time is of the essence in emergency situations, don’t attempt first aid, like removing a tampon from your dog’s throat. Even if you can see the string, you may damage their esophagus or risk hurting yourself in the process. It’s best to let veterinary professionals handle removing obstructions if you’re within a close distance from the clinic.


What to do: Rinse your dog’s mouth and call your vet.

Pets who ingest soaps, bath bombs, and toothpaste could show symptoms of upset stomachs, such as vomit and diarrhea.6 If your dog ate soap, you should take the soap away from them immediately.

Try your best to rinse the soap out of their mouth with water.7 It’s strongly advised to call your vet for guidance — they may have you bring your dog in if they’re throwing up or simply monitor your pet if they aren’t showing any symptoms. Either way, keep an eye on your pet in case they show signs of distress.

Cleaning products

What to do: Call the Animal Poison Control Hotline — (888) 426-4435. Consultation fees may apply.

For pets, products like bleach and all-purpose cleaning sprays can cause:6,7

  • Drooling
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe burns if swallowed
  • Respiratory tract irritation if inhaled in high concentrations

Keep your pets away from cleaning products by securing the cabinets they’re stored in. Also, read the labels of household cleaners carefully. Some of these products require that pets and kids be kept away from the area you’ve cleaned until it's dry to prevent health risks.8

If your dog inhales or ingests cleaning products, it’s advised to contact Animal Poison Control immediately for guidance on how to take care of your pet. They may ask you to flush their mouth with water and/or go straight to the emergency clinic.7 Regardless, acting quickly is key to ensuring your pet stays safe.

A MetLife Pet Policy Can Help Cover Expensive Vet Bills

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My Dog Ate a Sock

What to do: Monitor your dog and call your vet.

A bored dog can be a naughty dog, especially if they turn our clothes into their latest chew toy. Dogs who eat socks and underwear are at risk of a litany of gastrointestinal issues, like bloating and bowel obstructions.9


Sometimes, dogs pass small pieces of fabric through their intestines, so you can watch them to see if they poop it out. Other times, your dog may show signs of distress — like straining to go to the bathroom or refusing to eat — that require immediate attention from a vet.5 Pet parents should play it safe by getting a vet involved once they’ve discovered their dog ate any piece of their clothes.

My Dog Ate Human Food

Dogs evolved along with humans, so there are plenty of dog-safe foods they can eat. However, they shouldn’t eat everything on our plates. Let’s walk through the most common human foods that could ruin your dog’s day.

Raw chicken

What to do: Monitor your dog.

While cooked, unseasoned chicken is good for dogs, raw chicken shouldn’t be offered to dogs regularly unless you’ve consulted your vet about giving your pet a raw diet. Dogs can digest raw chicken in small amounts; however, they can come in contact with food-borne illnesses and bacteria, like salmonella.10

Symptoms and treatment

If your dog ate raw chicken, monitor them closely for signs of food poisoning, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Pet parents should speak with their vets about any symptoms.11

Chicken bones

What to do: Monitor your dog.

Chicken bones shouldn’t be a regular chew toy for dogs. As yummy as chicken is, chicken bones can be dangerous for dogs to chew on because they can splinter into small, sharp pieces. If your dog loves to chew, research bully sticks or other dog-safe animal products on the market. These could be good sources of protein that are less likely to harm your beloved dog.

Symptoms and treatment

Chicken bones, especially when cooked, can fracture and puncture your dog’s esophagus and internal organs. Look out for signs of internal bleeding, such as blood in their stool or vomit, as well as a bloated abdomen.12 A visit to the vet can help manage internal bleeding and confirm that bone fragments have not become lodged in your dog’s digestive tract.12


What to do: Take your dog to an emergency vet.

Onions are a healthy, versatile kitchen staple for humans, but they’re highly toxic to dogs. Onions are one of the many vegetables that can land your pup in the vet’s office.

Symptoms and treatment

Consider it an emergency if your dog ate onions or onion powder. Onions contain a compound called allyl propyl disulfide that can cause nasty reactions, including anemia and fainting.13 Take your dog to an emergency clinic as soon as possible if you think they’ve consumed any onions or onion-based products.


What to do: Call your vet and take your dog to an emergency clinic.

Gum often contains a compound called xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that affects blood sugar levels. Signs of xylitol poisoning, like hypoglycemia (a drop in blood sugar), can set in within 10 minutes to 1 hour after a dog eats the sweetener. If left untreated, xylitol poisoning can lead to seizures, liver failure, and death.14

Pet parents shouldn’t delay treatment if their dog ate gum containing xylitol. They should call ahead to the emergency clinic the moment their pup shows signs of poisoning. Your vet may induce vomiting to purge the gum from your dog’s body and administer intravenous glucose and potassium to keep your dog’s levels healthy and stave off liver failure.14


What to do: Take your dog to the vet.

Dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate under any circumstances. Chocolate contains harmful compounds that elevate a dog’s heart rate and stimulate their nervous system.

Symptoms and treatment

Different types of chocolate have different levels of toxicity for dogs.15 As a general rule of thumb, darker chocolate is more toxic. Indicators of chocolate poisoning typically include:15

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increase urination
  • Agitation
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Elevated pulse
  • Collapse

If your dog consumed any amount of chocolate, take the chocolate’s packaging with you to the vet so they can determine what to do next. They may choose to induce vomiting at the clinic, keep them overnight to monitor, or a combination of both.15

My Dog Ate A Bug

Has your curious pup decided that bugs are fun to chase? Well, this can be harmless — until it isn’t. There are certain bugs your dog shouldn’t play around with. Here are two common bugs that raise questions for pet parents when their dog eats them.


What to do: Monitor your dog.

Try to remain calm if your dog ate a bee. Check their mouth, face, and the rest of their body for bee stings. Most bee stings cause mild pain that you should be able to manage at home. If they weren’t stung, your dog should be fine.

Symptoms and treatment

If your dog was stung by a bee, watch them for signs of discomfort that should set in within a few minutes to a few hours. Severe reactions to bee stings include:

Any of these signs is a good enough reason to go to the nearest emergency vet. Treatment will depend on the severity of your dog’s reaction. Your vet may recommend an OTC antihistamine or — in severe cases — hospitalization to manage your pup’s symptoms.

Stink bugs

What to do: Monitor your dog.

Generally, stink bugs are harmless.16 You shouldn’t rush to the clinic if your dog ate a stink bug. These bugs aren’t toxic to humans or dogs, although they can cause stomach irritation and excessive drooling.

Monitor your dog’s poop to catch any signs of gastrointestinal upset. Consider brushing your dog’s teeth or using dog-safe mouthwash if the smell of the bug lingers.

Don’t Swallow Vet Bills Whole. MetLife Pet Insurance Can Help

We may not always be able to watch our dogs and prevent them from eating something they shouldn’t, but there are steps pet parents can take to prepare for potential incidents. Consider investing in a dog insurance policy to help protect your dog when their curious mouths get the better of them. MetLife Pet Insurance policies can help reimburse pet parents for up to 90% of the vet bill after an emergency vet visit.17 Get started with a free quote today so you can get back to what matters most: spending time with your family.

We Can Help You Protect Your Pup

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

¹ “The Common Signs and Symptoms of Poisoning in Dogs,” American Kennel Club,

² “Human Medication Hazards for Pets,” Oregon Veterinary Medical Association

3 “Poisoning from Human Prescription Drugs,” Merck Veterinary Manual,

⁴ “Poisoning from Human Over-The-Counter Drugs,” Merck Veterinary Manual,

5 “Help! My Dog Ate Plastic (Or Another Foreign Object),” The Vets,

6 “Household Hazards,” American Veterinary Medical Association,

7 “Cleaning Products Toxic To Dogs,” Pet Poison Helpline,

8 “Poisonous Household Products,” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,

9 “Why Does My Dog Eat My Socks?”, The Spruce Pets,,can%20come%20from%20gas%20buildup.

10 “Should You Feed Your Dog a Raw Diet? We Find Out,” Rover,

11 “Can Dogs Get Food Poisoning?”, PetMD,

12 “What to Do if Your Dog Ate Chicken Bones,” American Kennel Club,

13 “Can Dogs Eat Onions? Everything You Need to Know,” American Kennel Club,

14 “Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

15 “What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate,” American Kennel Club,

16 “Are Stink Bugs Dangerous to Dogs or Cats?”, Orkin

17 Reimbursement options include: 70%, 80% and 90% and a 50% option for MetGen policies and a 65% option for IAIC policies only. Pet age restrictions may apply.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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