My Dog Ate Something Bad, Now What?

Five Minutes
Apr 28, 2023

Did your dog eat something they shouldn’t have? Well, you’re not alone! Dogs 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 to best prepare for 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

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Twitching
  • Lethargy
  • Refusing to eat
  • Hunching or bowing
  • Constipation

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

How to prepare

Pet parents should prepare a first aid kit specifically for their dogs in the event of an emergency.² Be sure to include the number for your nearest emergency clinic and the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in the kit so you know who to call and where to go during an emergency. Along with items for wound care, a first aid kit should also include hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if your dog swallowed something toxic or obstructive.

Consider taking first aid courses specifically for dogs. These courses can teach you how to safely perform life-saving measures like removing objects from your dog’s throat.

My Dog Ate My Medicine

Modern medicine has afforded humans a wonderful change in lifestyle but they can pose a risk to our dogs. About ¼ of phone calls to APCC are about human medications that have been accidentally ingested by pets.³

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers simple guidelines to keep your pets out of harm's way when it comes to medicine they shouldn’t consume. Here are some helpful tips regarding pets and human medication:³

  1. Don’t leave pills and pill bottles sitting on the counter or any place your pet can get to easily.
  2. Pick up dropped pills off the floor immediately.
  3. Always call your vet after your pet has consumed medications that aren’t prescribed to them.
  4. Never give your pet medication without explicit permission from your vet.

Even if you follow these tips strictly, accidents can still happen. Let’s discuss the most common medications dogs tend to eat and what to do about it.


Ibuprofen is a common pain medication. Many brands (e.g. Advil®, Motrin®, etc.) cover the pills in a sweet, sugary coating that can be appealing to dogs.³ Ibuprofen, if ingested in large amounts, can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.³

If you suspect your dog ate ibuprofen, it’s highly recommended to call the APCC hotline for guidance. Make sure to have the pill bottle in hand so that you can tell the representative the specific brand, the dosage of the medication, and an estimate of how much ibuprofen your dog may have consumed. Next, it’s best to call your veterinarian to get your dog into their office for a thorough exam.

Tylenol® and Aleve®

Similar to ibuprofen, Tylenol® (commonly known as acetaminophen) and Aleve® (Naproxen) are common in households because it’s an effective fever reducer and pain reliever. Sadly, both of these over-the-counter medications can cause liver damage, stomach ulcers, and kidney failure.³ Acetaminophen can also attack your dog’s red blood cells, making it difficult for their blood to carry oxygen.³

Don’t hesitate to take your dog to an emergency clinic if you suspect your dog ate Tylenol®.³ You’ll need to take the pill bottle with you so you can give the care team all the information they need to take care of your dog.

Prescription medications

There are a lot of prescription medications that may be laying around your home. Dogs commonly eat prescriptions that are sitting on our nightstands that pet parents leave out so they don’t forget to take them before bed.³ Medications that people take for depression, anxiety, pain, and other illnesses don’t affect dogs the way they affect people. In fact, these medications often cause dogs to become disoriented, agitated, and lethargic. In extreme cases, certain medications can lead to seizures and organ failure.³

Take extra precautions with your prescription medications. Try not to leave them in areas that are easily accessible to your dog, like counter tops and coffee tables. Opt for a secure cabinet or high-to-reach place instead.

If your dog eats your medication, it’s best to call the APCC then make sure that you bring the prescription bottles with you to the emergency clinic.

My Dog Ate Plastic

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. The plastic can easily puncture your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, leading to life threatening internal bleeding and costly emergency vet bills. If you suspect your dog has eaten plastic, it’s recommended to take your pup to the emergency clinic so that a vet can perform an ultrasound and take X-rays to locate a foreign object.

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

My Dog Ate Something In My Bathroom

Our bathrooms are home to dozens of seemingly harmless, everyday items that our dogs may get too curious about. From toilet paper rolls to our toothbrushes, a bored dog will take to chewing all sorts of things if they make their way into the bathroom.

The best course of action is to try your best to keep your dog out of the bathroom, especially unsupervised. Keep your counters free of objects that can easily be swallowed. If you own a large dog that can easily climb counters, you may want to invest in training classes to teach them basic commands like “leave it” and “come” to protect your dog from hazardous objects.

But things happen to even the most attentive pet parents, so here’s what you need to know about common things dogs swallow in our bathrooms.

Tampons and pads

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 like choking, 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.


According to the AVMA, pets that ingest soaps, bath bombs, and toothpaste could show symptoms of upset stomachs such as vomit and diarrhea.⁴ 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. It’s strongly advised to call your vet for guidance; they may have you bring your dog in if they are 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

For pets, products like bleach and all-purpose cleaning sprays can cause:⁴

  • 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 and, if they happen to consume a cleaning product, 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.

If your dog inhaled or ingested cleaning products, it’s advised to contact the APCC immediately for guidance on how to take care of your pet. They may ask you to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal, or milk of magnesia. In other cases, the APCC representative may advise you to go straight to the emergency clinic. Regardless, acting quickly is key to ensuring your pet stays safe.

My Dog Ate a Sock

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

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 whining or refusing to eat – that require immediate attention from a vet. 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. If your pup has a habit of counter surfing or begging, try your best to break them of this habit before they accidentally bite off more than they can chew. Let’s walk through the most common human foods that could ruin your dog’s day.

Raw chicken

While cooked unseasoned chicken is good for dogs, raw chicken shouldn’t be offered to dogs regularly unless you’ve consulted your vet on 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.

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 they have and see if you can get prescriptions if the symptoms last for more than 48 hours.

Chicken bones

Chicken bones shouldn’t be a regular chew toy for dogs. As yummy as chicken is, chicken bones can be very dangerous for dogs to chew on. Especially when cooked, the fragile bones can fracture and can puncture your dog’s esophagus and internal organs.

Talk with your family about making sure they don’t offer chicken bones to the family dog. 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.


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.

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


Dogs shouldn’t eat gum for two reasons. First, gum is difficult for pets to digest so it can lead to constipation and intestinal blockages. As we’ve discussed, both of these can lead to massive discomfort for your pup and potentially lead to costly surgical procedures to fix their gut issues.

Secondly, gum often contains a compound called xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that affects blood sugar levels. Signs of xylitol poisoning, like seizures, set in within 12 – 24 hours after a dog eats it. If left untreated, xylitol poisoning can lead to liver failure and death.

Pet parents shouldn’t delay treatment if their dog ate gum containing xylitol. They should call ahead to the emergency clinic the moment they show signs of poisoning.


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

Different types of chocolate have different level of toxicity for dogs.⁵ As a general rule of thumb, darker chocolate contains higher levels of toxicity. 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 or keep them overnight to monitor or a combination of both.⁵

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 that your dog shouldn’t play around with. Here are two common bugs that often raise questions for pet parents when their dog eats them.


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 perfectly fine.

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:

  • Sudden lameness
  • Hives
  • Pale gums
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Anaphylaxis

Consider all of these signs an emergency situation and you should go to the nearest emergency vet.

Stink bugs

Generally speaking, stink bugs are harmless. You shouldn’t rush to the clinic if your dog ate a stink bug. These bugs aren’t toxic to humans or dogs, and the most they’ll do is make your pup's breath smell stinky.

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

Dogs are wonderful companions that bring joy to our lives. Most pet parents wouldn’t give them up for the world, even when they eat things they shouldn’t and scare their humans.

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 up to 100% of common emergency vet visits, like diarrhea, poisoning, and bee stings.⁶ Get started with a free quote today so you can get back to what matters most: spending time with your best dog.

Protect your Dog

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

¹ “My Dog Has Eaten Something Harmful,” The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals

² “Pet First Aid Supplies Checklist,” American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

³ “10 Poison Pills For Pets,” AVMA

⁴ “Household Hazards,” AVMA

⁵ “What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate,” American Kennel Club

⁶ Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.  Reimbursement options include: 70%, 80%, 90%, and 100%.

In addition, there is also a 50% option for MetGen underwritten policies only and a 65% option for IAIC underwritten policies only.

Calculation based upon select plans and coverages. Actual rates may vary based on pet age, breed, location, deductible, reimbursement rate, and annual limits you choose.

Coverage underwritten and issued by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 or Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations. Application is subject to underwriting review. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC for details. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator for this coverage. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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