Common Household Items Toxic to Dogs and Pets

Many people are planning their family vacations now that the weather has improved a bit and spring has started to show her beautiful face again. Whether you are leaving your pet with a dog-sitter or

· March 30, 2012

Many people are planning their family vacations now that the weather has improved a bit and spring has started to show her beautiful face again. Whether you are leaving your pet with a dog-sitter or are planning to stay close to home, it’s always important to be aware of the dangers that can threaten your pet while you’re not home.

“Every year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline handles over 150,000 cases of pets being poisoned, and many of those cases involved common household items.” Dr. Steven Hansen of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) goes on to state that, “In our homes, the bathroom is the most dangerous spot for pets. The single most common reason for calls into the poison hotline is because pets have consumed medications.”

Some substances, like over-the-counter medications, that are safe for people, can in fact be deadly for our pets. Even if owners are unsure about the toxicity of a substance, they should take precautions and keep it secured in closed containers and out of reach or view of their animals.

In some cases, it is not necessary that your dog eat or drink the potential poison; the poison can enter the animal’s body in other ways such as if it comes in contact with their fur or paws. When pets groom themselves, either by licking their paws or fur, they will undoubtedly ingest the toxic substance and be at risk for toxicity.

Often the most dangerous poisons for pets are certain “people foods” and over-the-counter or prescription drugs. However other common household items that are toxic to your pooch include:

Anti-depressants can cause vomiting and in more severe case – serotonin syndrome; a dangerous condition that raises the body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure of your pet and can even cause seizures.

Automotive and household chemicals are one of the most dangerous substances. Substances containing antifreeze, solvents and pool chemicals can poison pets. Symptoms include stomach disorders, depression, and chemical burns. Various cleaning, washing and bleaching agents can cause poisoning and respiratory problems.

Avocado can also be dangerous when fed in large amounts. In the avocado there is a substance called “persin” which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which is a diuretic. Your dog may be very thirsty and urinate a lot – vomiting and diarrhea are usual symptoms as well. Here’s the real danger … theobromine is also a cardiac stimulant so it could increase your dog’s heart rate or cause irregular heart beats. For that same reason, it is also a good idea to keep coffee and caffeine away from your pet.

Domestic plants can also be harmful to pets. Here is a list of the most toxic plants: azaleas and rhododendrons (during the flowering these plants contain toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coma and possibly death); tulips and daffodils (the bulbs of these plants can cause serious stomach problems, cramps, and damage to the heart); sago palm (a few seeds may be enough to cause vomiting, seizures and liver failure).

Fertilizers used in the garden, which are made of dried blood, poultry manure and bone meal, are very attractive for pets but can be toxic for them if consumed.

Fleas and tick medications are also dangerous. Each year thousands of animals around the world are inadvertently poisoned by these substances. Problems arise when a pet accidentally swallows these substances, or an overdose occurs (this is especially the matter for small pets).

Food from people’s table bears dangers as well. Pets and people have different metabolism. Some foods and drinks that are safe for humans can be dangerous and sometimes deadly for dogs.

Grapes and raisins are also unsafe. Experts are not sure why, but these fruits can cause kidney failure in dogs. Even small amounts can cause problems.

Medications for pets may be dangerous too. Pets can be poisoned and die from drugs meant to help them. The most common problems are encountered with overdose of prescribed painkillers.

Nuts – We know for certain that Macadamia nuts are one of the most toxic nuts for dogs followed by walnuts and almonds especially bitter almonds. When dogs get into these delicious nuts we’re not sure exactly what happens… because the toxic compound is unknown but dogs seem to develop tremors and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. And sometimes there is pain or swelling when you manipulate the limb or touch this area. The good news is the toxicity doesn’t seem to last long; nevertheless nuts in general should be avoided.

Onions contain the toxic ingredient, thiosulphate that causes the problem. At first you might notice some vomiting and diarrhea and your pet will become tired and lethargic. Your pet develops haemolytic anemia, which is when the red blood cells actually burst within the body. The breath in the body is much less because the red blood cells, which carry oxygen, have been reduced or destroyed.

Over-the-counter or prescription medications for people are dangerous. Even small doses of narcotic drugs, which are okay for people, can have the opposite effect on your animals. Some of the most common and harmful drugs for dogs include non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications, which can lead to stomach and intestinal ulcers, or kidney failure.

Wine, Beer or other Alcoholic Beverages – A glass of that special vintage wine is definitely a NO-NO! We mentioned how dangerous grapes are so it’s logical that wine is equally as bad. Beware of alcohol poisoning, which can cause liver failure and even death.
Xylitol as the sweetener can be found in many foods, including chewing gum and candy. Xylitol causes a rapid drop of sugar in blood, which leads to weakness and cramps. Some pets liver failure was observed, too.

All of these substances have different effects to the body of your pet. Problems will often arise beginning with the gastrointestinal tract and neurology (seizures), followed by cardiac and respiratory failure, and eventually coma and death.

Pet owners should remember that although they love and enjoy many foods, consume different medications or use chemicals indoors and outdoors, all these facts could be harmful and sometimes even deadly for their pets. They should educate themselves and share useful information on harmful agents with other pet owners.

Rob Mueller and Roxie Al Skender is a Raw Diet Educator for BARF World Inc. He’s a self-proclaimed expert on the German Shepherd breed, owning several of them throughout his life. He enjoys being outdoors and prefers it to being stuck in front of the television, unless The Office or CSI is on. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet monthly e-zine at



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"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!