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A Pet Owner’s Guide to Household Poisons

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Common Household Dangers for Pets that Every Pet Owner Needs to Know

Common household dangers we know to stay away from may not give off as much of a warning to our pets. Something that completely turns our stomach can remind an animal of meal time. The same object we know will hurt us looks like a chew toy to a 5-month-old puppy.

As pet owners, it’s important for us to know about the dangers to our pets that are lurking around our house. Here are some of the most common household dangers that every pet owner needs to know about.

Common Household Dangers for Pets that Every Pet Owner Need to Know

As any cat owner knows, chewing on the leaves of anything in sight is on every cat’s bucket list. Out of all pets, cats are notorious for this. A pretty living room plant can turn into a buffet for a curious cat. While pretty, many common household plants are poisonous to pets.

Not every plant is as toxic as the next to our pets. Some plants cause dogs and cats minor intestinal upset. Which may include vomiting and diarrhea. Regardless of the severity of symptoms, if your pet displays signs of being poisoned, contact a veterinarian right way. They will need to take the necessary steps to make sure your pet recovers fully from ingesting the toxic plant.

Household Plants Toxic to Pets

While there are well over 1,000 plants known to be toxic to pets, here are a few common household plants that can make your dog or cat sick if they ingest them.

Japanese Yew

Japanese Yew is a plant that is found in the landscaping of many homes. It is lethal, and it doesn’t take much to poison even the healthiest of dogs and cats. An animal must eat only one-tenth of its body weight in order to have ingested a fatal amount. This can cause a sudden death from heart failure and should be removed from the home and surrounding areas at all costs.

The Araceae Family

These plants are usually found in the home or yard. When ingested, plants in the Araceae family cause calcium oxalate crystals to form in the organs. This causes a type of allergic reaction in most animals.

Animals that have ingested such a plant might experience severe salivation, shaking of the head, difficulty breathing and even vomiting and loose stool.

Fortunately, most animals prefer not to eat this due to the taste and those cases that do result in death are normally the result of severe boredom or hunger.


Rhododendrons and other plants that contain cardiac glycosides are fatal for pets. They have been used for some time in the treatment of heart issues, but the ingestion of plants that contain this material can cause death.

Luckily, most animals do not like the taste of this plant and will avoid it at all costs.


Nightshades are plants that are usually found in or near the home. They are known as ornamental plants. They contain a chemical called solanine that affects the stomach or brain of the pet.

Vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool and stomach pain are all signs of poisoning by nightshade. Salivation and excessive drowsiness are also signs of this type of poisoning. If you suspect your pet has gotten into this type of plant, get them to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Common Over-the-Counter Medications Poisonous to Pets

Household plants aren’t the only thing that is poisonous to pets. Common medications humans can buy over the counter and take on a daily basis are also toxic.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, is another substance found in the home that poses a poisoning threat to your pets.

Most homes have acetaminophen in the home, so be sure that it is out of reach of your pet.

Cats and dogs are not able to process this drug properly and it can cause significant tissue damage in pets.

Aspirin and Ibuprofen

Aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are known poisons to household pets.

On occasion, they are prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation in pets, but poisoning can occur with owners who try to medicate their pets on their own.

Dosages for pets are substantially lower than they are for humans, and cats, in particular, are more sensitive to the effects of these drugs.

Common Household Products Toxic to Pets

Not only are certain plants and OTC medications toxic to pets in the home. There are common household products pet owners use every day that can also have a toxic impact on our pets.

Ant Poisons and Insecticides

People purchase ant poisons, roach poisons, and insecticides as a way of keeping their home and yard free of pests. Many people don’t know of the harm that they stand to cause to their pets and their neighbor’s pets.

There are such things as items like this that are safe for use around pets and it is best to check those out rather than have to worry about the potential harm to your pets.

Most products that are not clearly marked as safe for pets can make a cat or dog very sick, or even cause death.

A vet should be seen as soon as possible if treatment is to be effective, at all.


More animals are poisoned by antifreeze than anything else. Why? Because it tastes good, and it is so prevalent.

Antifreeze has a very sweet taste. When dogs and cats are thirsty they tend to drink out of gutters and drains that contain antifreeze. Don’t ever let them.

Don’t keep them in areas where they might come in contact with antifreeze. Garages and sheds are a good example of such a place.

Household Cleaning Products

There are so many things around your home that can cause poisoning to your pets and fall into this category.

Bleach, Lysol, toilet bowl cleaners, laundry detergent, soap, cleanser—you name it, it can make your pet sick if ingested. Many of these items can even kill.

Don’t ever leave mop water out, put other cleaning products away and out of reach, and lock up your pet while cleaning. It’s much better to be safe than it is to be sorry.

Flea Products

Pet owners spend a lot of money every year buying things to help rid their pets and their homes of those nasty little pests called fleas.

They are annoying to people and even more annoying to pets. Used in the wrong way they also have the potential to make a pet very sick or even cause death.

Read the label very carefully for proper instructions on use and follow them to the tee to be sure that your pet is not harmed by them.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals such as lead and zinc also have the potential to poison our pets, and strangely so.

While many people might not realize it, these metals can make our pets very sick or even cause death.

A toy, a battery, a drapery ornament or fishing weight—these are all things that pets can ingest that can cause such poisoning.

Keep them all out of your pet’s reach and avoid tragic results.


Squirrels, bats, rats, and mice—these can be annoying in or near our homes, to say the least.

People spend lots of money ridding their homes of them, not even knowing of the threats that they pose to their pets.

If you want to keep your pet safe, use these items sparingly and never in an area where they might come into contact with your pet.

Household and Outside Garbage

Keep your pet out of the garbage. This is much easier said than done.

You never know what is in the garbage. It’s a receptacle designed to stow away disposable items that we would rather keep our families and pets away from.

There are pet safe garbage bins for those families with nosier pets.

If necessary, store your garbage outside or in a cabinet—anywhere Fido won’t get near it.


Teflon poisoning is usually an issue with birds.

Pans or pots that contain Teflon are heated on the stove. They release a type of poisonous gas that can make birds sick or kill them.

It is best to remove them from the house or anywhere near the kitchen when cooking with items that contain Teflon.

Human Food Poisonous to Dogs and other Pets

It’s hard not to share with those beady eyes looking up at you begging for a piece of your burger. While we all hate being the “mean doggy parent”, it’s necessary to keep our pets safe.

Many human foods that we enjoy aren’t safe for our pets to enjoy. In fact, some of them can be quite lethal if consumed in high enough amounts.

So, next time you’re enjoying any of the human foods below, don’t give into those beady begging eyes under the table. Remind yourself and your pet that it’s for their best interest.


Chocolate contains methylxanthines, the active ingredient that is so fatal to pets. It is found in cocoa seeds, coffee beans, tea leaves, and other foods.

Some chocolate contains fewer methylxanthines than the next. Milk chocolate will have less than a darker chocolate.

Regardless, all chocolate is still toxic to our pets.

Many people want to share their treats with pets, but don’t know of the harm it may cause. Keep even small amounts of chocolate away from your pets, no matter how much they beg.

Caffeine and coffee are two other common human foods toxic to pets that contain methylxanthines.

Pecans and Walnuts

Dogs really enjoy the taste of pecans and walnuts.

Unfortunately, if moldy, can contain certain toxins known as tremorgenic mycotoxins.

Tremorgenic mycotoxins aren’t just dangerous to our pets. They are also dangerous to plants and other animals.

These toxins can cause neurological symptoms including seizures. Black walnuts are known to contain the most of the tremorgenic mycotoxins.

Sugar-Free Candies and Gums

Sugar-free candies and gums contain Xylitol. Xylitol is known as a “sugar alcohol”.

It actually has quite a few benefits for humans. This is because we absorb it slowly and our body uses it in the right way.

The same can’t be said for our canine friends. Xylitol is very toxic to dogs and can cause their body to start making an abundance of glucose. This has a huge impact on how the liver functions.

Eliminate Pet Poisons and Household Dangers

The best way to keep your pet safe from toxins and other household dangers is to eliminate their access to them.

Don’t underestimate if your dog can get to the chocolate you stashed in your pantry. Many dogs are experts at getting what they want. They won’t allow anything to stand in their way. Including a pantry door. They’ll eat through that to get to the surprise they can smell on the other side.

Make sure you know the signs that your pet may have ingested a toxin. These symptoms can include but are not limited to diarrhea, vomiting, increase or decrease in thirst and urination, and neurological changes.

If you think your pet has come into contact with any of the common household items or ingested any of the human foods above, contact a veterinarian immediately.