By PetMD Editorial on Sep. 16, 2010

Toxic fumes may come from substances like insecticides, tear gas, and smoke from fires where certain plastics and other materials are burned. These types of fumes irritate and inflame a dog’s airways, making it hard to breathe or eliciting specific reactions to airborne poisons.

What To Watch For

Whenever a dog breathes toxic fumes, assume that the airways will be inflamed. Most inhaled poisons will cause difficulty breathing. Some may also cause salivation and twitching, among other signs of toxicity, including vomiting and collapse.

Immediate Care

It is critical you act quickly. However, you should:

  1. Not underestimate the damage inhaled smoke or airborne toxins can inflict, as inflamed airways can cause a dog to die of asphyxiation within hours.
  2. Never put yourself at risk to save a dog in a poison-filled room.
  3. Call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680

Instead, move the dog to an area away from poisonous fumes without endangering yourself, then follow these guidelines:

  1. If the pet has seizures, safely contain him/her on the way to the veterinarian.
  2. Keep the dog’s air passages open.
  3. Maintain his breathing and help circulation with CPR when needed.
  4. If there is time, flush the dog’s eyes with fresh water or a dog-specific eyewash.
  5. Take the dog to the vet immediately. Call ahead so they can prepare for her arrival.


Bleaches, detergents, and disinfectants are the most likely household chemicals to cause a problem. Therefore, keep pets away from these chemicals by securing them before, during, and after cleaning time. Pool/spa chemicals are also commonly implicated in inhalation poisonings. Keep these products safely contained during regular pool/spa maintenance.

When building a fire, be aware of the materials used and keep dogs out of enclosed areas that may fill with smoke. In rural areas, be aware of insecticide use and spraying schedules. Lastly, make sure equipment that produces carbon monoxide is regularly serviced.

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