EVERY HOME CONTAINS
a variety of everyday items and substances that can be dangerous or even fatal if ingested by pets. You can protect your pet’s health by
becoming aware of the most common health hazards found in many pet-owning households.
HAVE A QUESTION? Call our office at 231.529.6227
What to do if your pet is poisoned
Don’t wait! Time is critical for successfully treating
Pick up the phone and call your
veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
(1-888-426-4435; a consultation fee may apply). Be
prepared to provide your pet’s breed, age, weight and any
symptoms. Keep the product container or plant sample with
you to assist in identification so the appropriate treatment
recommendations can be made.
HAZARDS IN THE KITCHEN
Many foods are perfectly safe for humans, but could be
harmful or potentially deadly to pets. To be safe, keep the
following food items out of your pet’s menu:
Any food products containing xylitol(an artificial sweetener)
Always keep garbage out of a pet’s reach, as rotting food
contains molds or bacteria that could cause food poisoning.
Many household cleaners can be used safely around pets.
However, the key to safe use lies in reading and following
product directions for proper use and storage.
For instance, if the label states “keep pets and children
away from area until dry,” follow those directions to
prevent possible health risks. Products containing bleach
can safely disinfect many household surfaces when used properly, but can cause stomach upset, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea
or severe burns if swallowed, and respiratory tract irritation if
inhaled in a high enough concentration. In addition, skin contact
with concentrated solutions may produce serious chemical burns.
Some detergents can produce a similar reaction and cats can be
particularly sensitive to certain ingredients such as phenols.
As a general rule, store all cleaning products in a secure cabinet
out of the reach of pets and keep them in their original packaging,
or in a clearly labeled and tightly sealed container.
As with household cleaners, read and follow label instructions
before using any type of pesticide in your pet’s environment. For
example, flea and tick products labeled “for use on dogs only”
should never be used on cats or other species, as serious or even
life-threatening problems could result. Always consult with your
veterinarian about the safe use of these products for your pet.
If a pet ingests rat or mouse poison, potentially serious or even
life-threatening illness can result; therefore, when using any
rodenticide, it is important to place the poison in areas completely
inaccessible to pets. Some of the newer rodenticides have no
known antidote, and can pose significant safety risks to animals
HAZARDS IN THE BATHROOM
Medications that treat human medical conditions can make pets
very sick. Never give your pet any medication, including over-thecounter
medications, unless directed by your veterinarian. As a
rule, all medicines should be tightly closed and stored securely and
away from pets. Medications that pose higher risk include
as aspirin, ibuprofen or
Soaps and other sundries.
Bath and hand soaps, toothpaste and sun screens should also be kept
away from your pets. They can cause stomach upset, vomiting or
diarrhea. Keep toilet lids closed to prevent your pets from consuming
treated toilet bowl water that could irritate their digestive tract.
HAZARDS IN THE BEDROOM & LIVING ROOM
While they may smell good, many liquid potpourri products contain
ingredients that can cause oral ulcerations and other problems, so
keep them out of the reach of your pets.
Just one mothball has the potential to sicken a dog or cat;
mothballs that contain naphthalene can cause serious illness,
including digestive tract irritation, liver, kidney and blood cell
damage, swelling of the brain tissues, seizures, coma, respiratory
tract damage (if inhaled) and even death (if ingested). Tobacco
products, pennies (those minted after 1982 contain zinc) and
alkaline batteries (like those in your remote controls) can also be
hazardous when ingested.
HAZARDS IN THE GARAGE & YARD
Antifreeze, Herbicides and Insecticides
Ethylene glycol-containing antifreeze and coolants, even in small
quantities, can be fatal to pets. While antifreeze products containing
propylene glycol are less toxic than those containing ethylene
glycol, they can still be dangerous. In addition to antifreeze, other
substances routinely stored in the garage including insecticides,
plant/lawn fertilizers, weed killers, ice-melting products, and
gasoline also pose a threat to your pet’s health if ingested.
When chemical treatments are applied to grassy areas, be sure to
keep your pet off the lawn for the manufacturer’s recommended
time. If pets are exposed to wet chemicals or granules that adhere
to their legs or body, they may lick it off later; stomach upset or
more serious problems could result.
Paints and Solvents
Paint thinners, mineral spirits, and other solvents are dangerous
and can cause severe irritation or chemical burns if swallowed or
if they come in contact with your pet’s skin.
While most latex house paints typically produce a minor stomach
upset, some types of artist’s or other specialty paints may contain
heavy metals or volatile substances that could become harmful if
inhaled or ingested.
PLANTS - INSIDE OR AROUND THE HOUSE
There are many household and yard plants that can
sicken your pet. Some of the most commonly grown
greenery that should be kept away from pets includes:
Certain types of lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis species)
are highly toxic to cats, resulting in kidney failure —
even if only small amounts are ingested.
Lily of the Valley, oleander, yew, foxglove, and
kalanchoe may cause heart problems if ingested.
Sago palms (Cycas species) can cause severe
intestinal problems, seizures and liver damage,
especially if the nut portion of the plant is consumed.
Azaleas, rhododendrons and tulip/narcissus bulbs can
cause intestinal upset, weakness, depression, heart
problems, coma and death.
Castor bean can cause severe intestinal problems,
seizures, coma, and death. Other plants that can
cause intestinal upset include cyclamen, amaryllis,
chrysanthemums, pothos, English ivy, philodendron,
corn plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, hibiscus,
hydrangea, peace lily and schefflera/scheffleria.
Rhubarb leaves and shamrock contain substances that
can produce kidney failure.
Additionally, fungi (such as certain varieties of
mushrooms) can cause liver damage or other illnesses.
A few other potentially harmful plants include the
yesterday-today-and-tomorrow plant (Brunfelsia
species), autumn crocus (Colchicum species), and glory
lily (Gloriosa species).
OTHER HOUSEHOLD HAZARDS
Small items that fall on the floor can be easily swallowed
by a curious pet. Such items include coins, buttons,
small children’s toys, medicine bottles, jewelry, nails and
screws. The result may be damage to your pet’s digestive
tract and the need for surgical removal of the object.
While electrical cords are especially tempting to puppies,
ferrets and pet rodents who like to chew on almost
anything, even an adult dog or cat could find them of
interest; burns or electrocution could result from chewing
on live cords. Prevent this by using cord covers and
blocking access to wires.
A SPECIAL NOTE OF CAUTION TO BIRD OWNERS
Most hazards listed here also apply to your pet bird,
particularly if it is allowed to roam freely outside of
its cage. In addition, birds are especially vulnerable
to inhaled particles and fumes from aerosol products,
tobacco products, certain glues, paints and air fresheners.
Birds should never be allowed in areas where such
products are being used. As a rule, birds should never be
kept in kitchens because cooking fumes, smoke and odors
can present a potentially fatal hazard.
Holidays and visitors can pose a special challenge to your
pets. Discourage well-meaning guests from spoiling pets
with extra treats and scraps from the dinner table. Fatty,
rich, or spicy foods can cause vomiting and diarrhea and
lead to inflammation of the pancreas, which can be lifethreatening.
Poultry or other soft bones can splinter and
damage your pet’s mouth or esophagus.
While trick or treating is fun for children, it can be
hazardous to pets. Halloween treats such as chocolate or
candy sweetened with xylitol can make a harmful snack.
Certain holiday decorations (especially tinsel, ribbons
and ornaments) also pose a hazard to pets, so make sure
nothing is left on the floor or on tables within reach.
String-like items can damage your pet’s intestine and could
prove fatal if not surgically removed. While poinsettia is not
deadly as popular legend would have it, it could still cause
an upset stomach if consumed. Holly and mistletoe are
more toxic than poinsettias and can cause intestinal upset.
Christmas tree water treated with preservatives (including
fertilizers) can also cause an upset stomach. Water that is
allowed to stagnate in tree stands contains bacteria that, if
ingested, could lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Narcotics, including marijuana,
can pose life-threatening risks
to your pets if ingested. If you
suspect your pet has ingested
any narcotics, please notify your
veterinarian immediately so your
pet can receive the life-saving
treatment they need.