Common Household Toxins for Pets

As a pet owner, you do all you can to keep your furbabies safe. Pets are curious by nature, and that isn’t always a good thing. Unfortunately, most poisonings and emergencies occur in the home with everyday household items. March is Poison Prevention Month, so we’re taking this opportunity to educate and spread awareness about undercover hazards that could potentially harm your furbaby.


Medication ingestions account for nearly one quarter of all household emergencies. Ibuprofen, naproxen, cold medications, and herbal supplements can be extremely dangerous for pets, especially nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like naproxen or ibuprofen. These medicines can cause acute kidney failure. They should never be given to pets. ADHD medications, antidepressants, and heart medications are among the most commonly ingested medications. Prescription or over-the-counter medications must be stored in a medicine cabinet or up high where pets cannot reach them.


Never leave food out or where your pet can reach it. Keep pets out of the kitchen during mealtimes, especially with small children, in order to avoid them gobbling food scraps or dropped food. The following are toxic to most pets:

  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol (often found in sugar-free gum)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Raw yeast dough
  • Raw or undercooked meat

Chemicals and Cleaning Products

Strong-smelling products, like paint, glue, and cleaning chemicals, are often left out on the assumption that pets won’t eat these foul-tasting items. However, their unique scents and textures can be inviting to curious animals. Keep these items secure as ingestion could cause intestinal blockage or be potentially lethal. Anti-freeze, bleach, detergent, and pool chemicals need to be properly stored as well. Immediately mop up any spills, and dispose of them correctly.

Most people know that household cleaners could be lethal if ingested, but did you know that they can cause allergic reactions in pets too? The strong scent and residue can cause skin irritations, watery eyes, and difficulty breathing. For everyone’s safety, opt for pet-friendly cleaners, like baking soda or vinegar, instead.

Anti-Pest Products

Bug baits, sprays and foggers can be poisonous for your pet. Read all labels to ensure proper use and avoid exposure to pets and children after use. Rodenticides kill rodents by causing brain swelling, increased calcium levels, internal bleeding, or toxic gas production. These pesticides are particularly appealing to pets as they are meant to be ingested. Store all unused products away from pets. Never leave rodent bait out where your furbaby can find it. Always supervise or confine pets to keep them from eating your neighbors’ rodenticides.

Toxic Plants

Many plants, both indoor and outdoor, pose potential threats for pets. While cats are more likely to munch on greenery, dogs can also be at risk. A complete list of toxic and nontoxic plants can be found here, but the most common toxic household plants include:

  • Autumn crocus
  • Azalea
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Hyacinth
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lily of the valley
  • Lilies
  • Oleander
  • Sago palm
  • Tulips

If your furbaby ingests stems, leaves, or flowers, immediately take them to the vet. Toxicity signs may not be apparent, but it is important to remove any poisonous material as soon as possible to prevent any further toxin absorption into the body.

Garden Products

Fertilizers and herbicides may contain toxic chemicals that could harm your pet. Bone, blood, or cocoa-based fertilizers appeal to pets due to their strong scent. However, these products can cause pancreatitis or may clump in the stomach or intestines, causing gastric distress and blockage. Compost is also harmful; bacteria and fungi that reside in compost piles are highly toxic, so make sure compost is properly contained and stored.

In Case of Emergency

If your pet does eat something they shouldn’t, time is critical. Call your veterinarian or a pet poison hotline immediately and be prepared to describe the following:

  1. What your pet ate
  2. How long ago
  3. How much

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s hotline number is 888-426-4435.
The Pet Poison Helpline number is 800-213-6680. (Note: Callers will be charged a consultation fee.)
If possible, bring some of the substance, including any available packaging, with you if you are asked to bring your pet in for an examination.