Don’t Poison Your Pet! Look Out for These Common Household Items

Don't Poison Your Pet! Watch Out for These Household Items

Photo by Emily Orpin/ CC BY-NC

You’ve probably heard that a dog shouldn’t eat chocolate. But have you thought about other things that could be poisonous to your pet? Many common household items can prove to be hazardous to animals, and they should be handled with caution.

Below is a list of common household items to watch out for if you have pets, and steps you can take to protect your pets from them:

1. Hazards Inside the House

  • Food. This is the most common harmful thing that your pet could get into. In general, human food is a lot richer than pet food, which can cause a range of internal problems for your pet. Some foods cause more problems than others, specifically:
      • Chocolate – Pets do not tolerate the excessive amounts of caffeine that chocolate contains. It can cause a lot of problems, from upset stomach to seizures.
      • Grapes – Grapes as well as raisins can cause acute kidney failure.
      • Avocados – These contain persin, which cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.
      • Macadamia Nuts – Nuts like this can cause tremors and weakness in pets.
      • Sugarless Gum – Xylitol is an active ingredient in sugarless gum, which can dangerously lower the blood sugar in animals.
      • Leftovers – People don’t think about the leftovers but scraps such as chicken bones could cause choking.
  • Chemicals. Just like you or I shouldn’t sit down at the end of the day and sip on a glass of antifreeze, neither should your pet. The big issue here is that most dogs want to drink chemicals or other substances due to its scent. This is why it’s important to keep all chemicals either up high or somewhere your pet cannot get into.
      • Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) – Animals are attracted to antifreeze because of the sweet scent. Most act drunk if they have ingested antifreeze. Always call your vet right away if this happens.
      • Cleaning Products – Lots of these products are toxic to animals (just as they are to humans). It is best to restrict access to these things.
      • Insect Pesticides – Most insecticides contain an attractant like peanut butter or bread that dogs find especially enticing.
      • Fumes from Nonstick Cooking Spray – The fumes from certain sprays like nonstick cooking spray could be fatal for your pet – especially birds.
  • Medicines 
      • Human Medicines – Depending on the medicine, medicines could cause any number of problems to arise for your pet. Ask your vet about any and all medicines you should give your pet, and call them right away if your pet ingests anything by accident.
      • Vet Medicines – It is crucial to remember the correct dose to give your pet for all medicines. An overdose could lead to dangerous or grave consequences.
  • Rodenticides/Baits
  • String/Rubber Bands/Floss
  • Heavy Metals. It sounds odd, but some dogs have been known to eat coins – mostly pennies. This is harmful because of the zinc or even lead that can be in various coins or trinkets. Make sure you keep things like this inaccessible to them.
  • Wires. Dangling wires or cords are most hazardous for cats. They like to chew, bite, bat at and tackle exposed wires, not only leading to damaged equipment, but it might also lead to electrocution.

2. Poisonous Problems Outside the House (Yards/Gardens)

It’s natural for animals to be outside. They have instincts to help them survive and live somewhat comfortably…most of the time. Now, the “wild outdoors” that most animals call home are treated with chemicals or occupied by various plants. Neither of those things is bad – especially if you value a nice looking yard. But we do want you to be aware of the things outdoors that have the potential to harm your pets.

  • Fertilizer – Fertilization for yards can smell a lot like dog food. Different fertilizers contain a variety of chemicals, nutrients or insecticides, so it is best to restrict access for your pets’ safety for a few days. (Take them to a park or ask your neighbor if your pet can use their yard.)
  • Toxic Plants – This might not be a problem for you, but some animals love to chew on plants. It’s good to be aware of what plants are present in your yard and if your pet could be harmed by them. Here is a list of plants that could hurt your pet:
      • Narcissus
      • Hyacinth Bulbs
      • Oleander
      • Rhododendrons
      • Cyclamen
      • Amaryllis
      • Yew
      • Chrysanthemums
  • Cedar and Soft Wood Shavings – These have fumes that could cause problems for smaller animals such as rodents.

3. How to Protect Your Pet

Don’t get too worked up over the items listed above! Just take a look at these tips to prevent any harm from coming to your pet:

Don't Poison Your Pet - Be Mindful of Cleaning Products

Photo by Brittan Bush Bollay/ CC BY-NC-ND

  • Handle Household Products Carefully
    • Keep Chemicals Out of Reach – As we mentioned before, keep products high up or tightly secured in a place your pet cannot access.
    • Clean Carefully – Don’t leave chemicals lying around, and be sure to let your pet outside while you clean so the fumes don’t bother them.
    • Keep Wires Under Control. Keep your cats safe by:
        • Rearranging your furniture to cover the outlets.
        • Limiting your use of electrical wires by investing in wireless equipment or storing away unnecessary chords.
        • Protecting chords from chewing with “CritterCordTM” or using double-sided tape to repel your feline.
        • Punishing your cat if you catch them in the act. You can either use a loud noise (i.e. yelling “No!”) or spraying them with water.
    • Do Not Feed Your Pet. Say “No” to the puppy-dog eyes, and they’ll be just fine.
    • Create a Pet First Aid Kit. For an example, check out this article from the Humane Society.
    • Save Emergency Contacts.
        • Vet Phone Number
        • Animal Poison Control – 888-426-4435 ($65 per case)
        • Download ASPCA Mobile App


Learn something new? Take action today to protect your pet from the dangerous stuff around your house. Always feel free to reference back to this article if you have questions.

What do you do with your house products to keep your pet safe? Leave us a comment below!

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