You want your home to be a sanctuary for security, comfort, and love. You also want your home to be safe and secure for your furry pal, posing no hazards to their health and well-being. However, several household items can harm a curious pet, even if the items seem harmless on the surface. Our Staples Mill Animal Hospital team wants you to keep your pet as safe as possible so we describe household items that can harm your cat or dog, along with tips on how to keep your home pet-safe.

Household items that are harmful to pets

Many homes are filled with items that seem innocent on the surface but could potentially endanger cats and dogs. Some of these items include:

  • Toxic plants While beautiful, many common household plants can be toxic to pets who eat or nibble them. Pets’ plant poisoning signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and life-threatening conditions. Keep toxic plants out of reach or opt for pet-safe alternatives, which you can find by researching the American Society for the Prevent of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website. Many plants are toxic to pets and the following are frequent offenders:
    • Lilies
    • Aloe vera
    • Sago palms
    • Tulip and narcissus bulbs
    • Azaleas
    • Rhododendrons
    • Philodendrons
    • Poinsettias
    • Oleanders
    • Autumn crocus
  • Essential oils and liquid potpourri While essential oils are often used in aromatherapy for anxiety, stress, and specific physical ailments, some oils, including tea tree and peppermint, can be toxic to pets who ingest or inhale them. Place diffusers in areas inaccessible to your pet, and avoid using oils directly on your pet without consulting your Staples Mill Animal Hospital veterinarian. Liquid potpourri also adds a pleasant fragrance to your home, but they contain essential oils and cationic detergents that are toxic to pets if ingested or absorbed through the skin. 
  • String-like and small objects Many small objects can pique a curious pet’s interest and entice them to take a bite. Unfortunately, small items can cause internal obstructions or injuries, toxicity, or choking. Keep the following items out of your pet’s reach:
    • Dental floss
    • Yarn or thread
    • Curling ribbon
    • Buttons
    • Essential oil plug-ins or pods
    • Batteries
    • Small toys
    • Coins
    • Paper clips
    • Rubber bands
    • Band-Aids
    • Nails
    • Pushpins
  • Human medications Medications intended for humans, such as painkillers, antidepressants, cold and flu drugs, attention deficit disorder (ADD) meds, and even vitamins, pose risks to pets. Store medications in pet-proof containers or your medicine cabinet, never on bedside or low-lying tables. Take your medications in a well-lit room, off-limits to pets, should you drop a capsule or pill on the floor. Never give your pet medications without first consulting your Staples Mill Animal Hospital veterinarian, as many human medications can result in a veterinary emergency. 
  • Xylitol and unsafe foods Xylitol is an artificial sweetener commonly used in sugar-free gums, candies, and certain peanut butter brands. Xylitol ingestion can cause a pet’s insulin to release rapidly, leading to hypoglycemia—low blood sugar—seizures, and liver failure. Check ingredient labels carefully and keep xylitol-containing products out of your furry pal’s reach. Other pet-toxic foods include:
    • Chocolate
    • Macadamia nuts
    • Raw bread dough
    • Grapes and raisins
    • Avocados
    • Onions and garlic
    • Alcohol
    • Moldy foods
    • Caffeine
  • Antifreeze and outdoor toxins Ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, has a sweet taste that attracts pets. However, even if your pet ingests a tiny amount of this chemical, they can experience fatal consequences. Ensure that antifreeze containers are tightly sealed and stored out of your pet’s reach, and promptly clean up spills or leaks. Battery acid and other toxic automotive fluids should also be kept out of pets’ reach. Other outdoor items that are dangerous to your four-legged friend include:
    • Pesticides 
    • Fertilizers
    • Herbicides
    • Rat and mouse bait
    • Mulches, especially cacao mulch
    • Deicing salts

Protect your pet from harm 

You may be surprised by the myriad household items that are toxic and dangerous to your pet. Now that you are aware of pet household hazards, you can take steps to pet-proof your home and yard by securely storing chemicals, toxins, unsafe foods, and medications. Choose pet-friendly houseplants and supervise your pet in new environments and outdoors. Save the Pet Poison Helpline number on your phone for quick reference should your pet eat something poisonous.

By being aware of the many household items that can harm your cat or dog and taking steps to pet-proof your home, you can help ensure a safe and healthy environment for your four-legged pal. Contact our Staples Mill Animal Hospital team if you have questions about household pet dangers or to schedule your furry friend’s wellness exam.