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Tips on How to Protect Your Pets from Household Toxins
Dog HealthCat PoisoningDog PoisoningCat Health

Tips on How to Protect Your Pets from Household Toxins

Many common household items, such as foods, plants, and medications, can be incredibly toxic or even fatal to our pets. That’s why it’s important to understand and familiarize yourself with poisonous items commonly found in the home and ensure your pets don’t have access to them. 

Our article today will discuss the most common types of potential pet toxins, how to be aware of them, and what signs to look out for if you believe your pet has ingested something poisonous. 

What Foods Are Toxic to Pets?

A few frequently used/consumed foods are dangerous to your pet, so always keep these secure and out of reach of your curious dog or cat’s mouth. Below is a list of toxins for dogs that your pets should avoid:

  • Chocolate

  • Garlic & onions (including powders, baby food, etc.)

  • Unripe Tomato (including the plant parts)

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Any plants that belong to the Allium family, like spring onions and chives)

  • Grapes (including dried grapes like sultanas and raisins)

  • Products containing caffeine 

  • Fat trimmings (poultry skins, excess fats, gravies, juices, etc.)

  • Raw fish

  • Sugary foods

  • Avocado (can be toxic to birds, dogs, mice, rabbits, horses, and livestock)

  • Cooked bones (may easily splinter and cause obstructions within the digestive tract)

  • Raw dough containing yeast (pizza dough, sourdough, etc.)

  • Alcohol of any kind (particularly hops, used for making beer are especially toxic)

As always, we encourage you to speak with your trusted veterinarian if you have concerns about food. 

What Pesticides Are Toxic to Pets?

All of them, including rodent poisons, insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers! Pesticides are chemicals and substances used to kill animals, insects, fungi, plants, etc., among the most common causes of pet poisoning. The most commonly encountered is rat bait, but other products include insecticides like slug bait, ant bait, and other insect-killing sprays.   

According to rspca.org, the toxicity levels of products vary by their active ingredients and can affect pets differently. For example, rabbits are sensitive to fipronil, found in ant-killing products, while cats are more sensitive to pyrethroid insecticides like Raid Aerosols. 

If you use insecticides, fertilizers, or other pesticides around your home, do so cautiously. Many of these baits are designed to entice animals to eat them; if you attempt to hide them, your pet may still search for them and find them – resulting in serious consequences. Always keep pesticides safely locked up and only use them in areas of your property inaccessible to your pet. 

What Medication Is Toxic to Pets?

Many common household medications for humans or over-the-counter pain relievers are toxic to animals, according to Tidmore Veterinary Hospital.  

The following list is examples of human medications that can be extremely toxic to your pet:

  • Acetaminophen, or Paracetamol, is a common pain medication that is extremely toxic to cats, even in small amounts, and can also be dangerous for dogs. 

  • Ibuprofen, another common over-the-counter pain medication, is severely toxic to both dogs and cats, even in small amounts. 

  • Other NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) for pain management, such as Aspirin, Naproxen, Voltaren, etc. 

  • Antihistamines, which are commonly used in both human and veterinary medicine, can be dangerous if accidentally ingested in too high of a dosage. 

It’s also important to remember that creams, lotions, and other topical drugs can be problematic for pets. Not only do you run the risk of causing an allergic reaction or rash for your pet, but using something on your pet’s body risks them licking the area and potentially ingesting the toxins.  

a close up of a cat with its tongue out
a close up of a cat with its tongue out

Even if your pet is prescribed medication by a doctor, always follow the specific instructions from your veterinarian. Even animal medications can still be harmful to your pet if used incorrectly. 

Plants Toxic to Pets

Do you have houseplants or a lush garden in the backyard? Several species of plants, including lilies, can be toxic to pets. Mulch, which has often been chemically treated, can also be toxic to your pet. 

If your trees or plants drop fruit stones, berries, or seeds, dogs and cats may sometimes eat these parts of the plant, which can lead to intestinal blockages or obstructions. 

Adhesives, Batteries, Magnets

If you have small children in the home or a constantly curious pet, consider the dangers of magnets and batteries (commonly found in electronics, kid’s toys, and tools). Keep fridge magnets higher up and out of reach of pets as well. 

Adhesives like glue can be problematic if they get on the skin or in the eyes or are ingested during grooming episodes. They are potential toxins and irritants to the skin, mouth, and eyes. 

Household Cleaning Products

If you regularly use ammonia or bleach to clean your house, understand that these items can be toxic to your pet. Other household cleaning products that pose potential dangers are toilet bowl and carpet cleaners, air fresheners, chlorine, oven cleaners, and essential oils. 

Use these items with extreme care and in a well-ventilated space when cleaning. When not in use, be sure to keep them secure and out of reach of curious pets. 

Soaps & Detergents

Other common pet toxins include, such as fabric softeners, sanitizers, disinfectants, dishwashing detergents, and even some shampoos, which can be toxic to pets. Again, always be sure to keep these items secure and out of reach of curious pets when they are not being used.

Signs of Toxication

Signs of toxication can include vomiting, a lack of appetite, drooling, muscle weakness, unusual depression, seizures, collapse, coma, burns, or rashes in the mouth, eyes, or skin, as well as other gastrointestinal issues. 

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, contact your veterinarian right away, as they could be life-threatening. 


While many common household items pose risks to pets, it's easy to keep them safe and live a happy, healthy life with them. With proper consideration, education, and care, you can have these items in your home and still protect your pet. 

As a reminder, if you believe your pet has ingested toxic materials or exhibiting signs of poisoning, it’s important to get in touch with your trusted veterinary professional right away. If they are not available for any reason, call the ASPCA 24/7 Animal Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661(in the United States). 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are poisonous plants for dogs?

Some poisonous plants include oleander, autumn crocus, lilies, azalea, ivy, rhododendron, daffodils, yew, foxglove, hydrangea, tulips, holly, sago palm, and amaryllis. 

What can’t dogs eat?

Top dog toxins include onions, garlic, chives, chocolate, macadamia nuts, corn on the cob, avocado, xylitol (artificial sweetener), alcohol, cooked bones, and caffeine. 

What household items can kill a dog instantly?

Be sure these items are secure and out of reach of your dog, including raisins, chocolate, alcohol, macadamia nuts, onions, avocados, antifreeze, xylitol, coffee, insecticides, batteries, fabric softener and dryer sheets, garlic, and rodenticides. 

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