You try to protect your pet by keeping their vaccines up to date and administering their parasite prevention every month, but did you know most households contain substances that can endanger your pet? Our Staples Mill Animal Hospital team wants to protect your pet from toxicity, and we provide information about common pet toxins and tips to decrease your pet’s exposure risk.

Common foods can be dangerous for your pet

How fast does your pet swipe a dropped food item? Most pets are extremely food motivated, but gobbling up certain foods can lead to serious consequences. Common foods that are dangerous for pets include:

  • Chocolate — Chocolate is a common comfort food often given as a holiday gift, but the sweet treat contains pet-toxic ingredients that cause issues such as agitation, increased heart and respiratory rates, muscle tremors, and seizures. Keep the chocolate for yourself!
  • Sugar-free foods — The artificial sweetener xylitol can be found in many sugar-free foods and candies, and many human dental products and cosmetics. Xylitol has several benefits for people, but is extremely dangerous for pets, and can result in severe hypoglycemia and potentially liver failure. Read the label before offering your pet a new product.
  • Grapes — People commonly eat grapes and raisins as healthy snacks, but they are toxic to pets and can cause kidney failure. Store grapes in a secure location, and ensure your child doesn’t share their after-school snacks.
  • Onions Allium vegetables, including onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives, add flavor to many dishes, but can damage your pet’s red blood cells and lead to anemia. When chopping these veggies, don’t let your pet taste test.
  • Macadamia nuts — Macadamia nuts, which are commonly found in trail mix and protein bars, can cause muscle weakness, depression, gastrointestinal (GI) upset, and hyperthermia in pets. Keep your after-workout pick-me-up to yourself. 

Medications can be dangerous for your pet

Pets think of dropped medications as treats, but any medication can be dangerous for your pet if not administered appropriately. Specific examples include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications — OTC medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, cold and flu medications, and vitamin supplements, can be dangerous for pets. Never attempt to treat your pet by raiding your medicine cabinet.
  • Prescription medications — Common prescription medications that cause problems for pets include antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications, and blood pressure medications. Ensure your medications are kept in a secure area that your pet can’t access.
  • Veterinary medications — While veterinary medications are made for pets, these products can be dangerous if not administered as directed. Ensure you read the label on your pet’s medication, and closely follow the directions. Dangerous situations include:
    • Your pet gets into the medication and eats too much.
    • You give your cat your dog’s medication.
    • You give your dog your cat’s medication.
    • You give your pet a medication meant for another pet.

Plants can be dangerous for your pet

Plants can brighten your home and yard, but certain plants are poisonous for your pet. Pet-toxic plants include:

  • Lilies — Lilies are beautiful, but every plant part, including the vase water, is toxic to pets. Dogs typically develop GI signs, such as vomiting and diarrhea, but cats are more sensitive to lily toxicity, and can develop severe kidney failure. Avoid bringing lilies into your home.
  • Marijuana — Many people cultivate a small amount of marijuana for health or recreational purposes, but the plant is toxic to pets. If you have marijuana in any form, ensure your pet can’t access your supply.
  • Tulips — Many people plant tulips in the fall to enjoy their pretty blooms in the spring, but tulips, especially the bulbs, are pet-toxic. If you plant tulips around your home, don’t let your pet participate in the project, and ensure they can’t access the tulip bed. 
  • Azaleas — Azaleas are beautiful flowering shrubs that typically are easy to maintain, but they can cause GI upset and cardiovascular problems for pets. If you have azaleas in your yard, ensure your pet can’t access the area, or closely monitor them while they are outside.

Household products can be dangerous for your pet

Pets are curious, and investigating household products can lead to toxin exposure. Dangerous household products include:

  • Cleaning products — Cleaning agents and laundry products, including dryer sheets, are toxic to pets. Securely store all household products on a high shelf or behind a closed door to protect your pet.
  • Rodenticides — Rodenticides, which are meant to attract rodents, typically are flavored and your pet may be tempted to try a bite. If you set out a bait, don’t allow your pet in the area.
  • Deicer — Deicer ingredients can cause GI upset, electrolyte imbalances, and dehydration. After your pet goes outside in the winter, wipe down their paws and fur with a towel or cloth to remove deicer crystals.

Knowing what foods, medications, plants, and products are toxic to your pet can help you reduce their exposure risk. However, if your pet encounters a toxin despite your efforts, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Staples Mill Animal Hospital immediately. We will ensure they receive the care they need.