Emergency Instructions

Emergency instructions for poisoned dog

If your pet has been exposed to a poison, you can follow these emergency instructions to reduce the risk of your animal becoming unwell. Prior to calling the Animal Poisons Helpline, the following first-aid measures can be performed.

My pet has eaten something

If your pet has ingested a poison, try to rinse or wipe out the mouth with a damp towel/flannel. Do not give your pet anything to eat or drink before speaking with the Animal Poisons Helpline or a vet. We receive a lot of calls with pet owners asking how to induce vomiting in dogs. Never induce vomiting unless advised to do so by the Animal Poisons Helpline or a vet. There are many cases whereby making an animal vomit can do more harm than good. After rinsing/wiping out the mouth, always call the Animal Poisons Helpline for further advice.

My pet has something on their skin

If your pet has a chemical on their skin or in their hair, ensure that the affected area(s) are washed thoroughly with a gentle soap and water. Ensure any soap residue is then rinsed off the area. Thoroughly removing chemicals soon after exposure can reduce the risk of irritation, burns and in some cases systemic poisoning. After completing the wash, always contact the Animal Poisons Helpline for further advice.

My pet has got something in their eye(s)

Try to irrigate the affected eye(s) with tap water or normal saline (if sufficient quantity available) for up to 15 minutes. This can often be difficult to do, and is much easier if you have a second person to help you hold the animal still. Ideally the eye(s) should be irrigated from the inner corner and washed outwards towards the side of the face. This prevents any chemical being inadvertently washed into the other eye. Always call the Animal Poisons Helpline after you have completed the irrigation for further assessment.

My pet has inhaled something/been exposed to a gas or fumes

Move the pet to fresh air as soon as safe to do so. Keep the animal calm and still and always contact the Animal Poisons Helpline for further advice.

My pet has been bitten by a snake

All snake bites or suspected snake bites in Australia should be treated as life-threatening. It is vital that you keep your pet calm and as still as possible. Try to limit any movement (including walking) as much as possible, and transport them to your nearest veterinary practice immediately.

If you are not close to a veterinary clinic and the bite was witnessed to have occurred on a limb, apply a pressure immobilisation bandage to that limb before transporting the animal to a veterinarian. The bandage should cover the entire limb, from the paw to the base of the limb. The pressure bandage should not be applied too tight as to restrict blood flow, but at a similar tightness to what would be applied for a sprained ankle. There is no role for a pressure immobilisation bandage for bites that are not on a limb.

The sooner your pet is treated, the better their chances of survival.Symptoms of snake bites include:

– Sudden weakness followed by collapse
– Vomiting
– Laboured breathing
– Paralysis, starting with the hind legs
– Loss of bladder and bowel control
– Shaking or twitching of the muscles
– Blood in the urine

DO NOT try to catch or kill the snake for ID or for any other purpose
DO NOT apply a tourniquet
DO NOT wash the bite site
DO NOT cut, suck or apply any other treatments to the bite-site

If you see a snake on your property, keep a safe distance and contact your local snake catcher or use Snake Catchers.

Calling the Animal Poisons Helpline:


As an Australian pet owner, you can contact the Animal Poisons Helpline for FREE on 1300 869 738. If you are a New Zealand pet owner, you can phone 0800 869 738 (fees apply).


When you call the Animal Poisons Helpline, we may ask for the following information:

  • Your pet’s name and weight
  • Details about the poison(s) they have been exposed to such as the product name and the amount (try to have the bottle/packaging in front of you when you call)
  • How they have been exposed (ingestion, skin exposure, eye exposure etc.)
  • The time since exposure
  • If the animal has any symptoms
  • If the animal has any previous medical conditions
  • Any treatment that has already been performed

The Animal Poisons Helpline will conduct a risk assessment on your pet’s exposure and provide treatment recommendations or referral advice if necessary.