Common Household Dangers
for Pets

Many common household items can pose a threat to our pets. It is important to be aware of items in your home that could potentially cause harm to your animal friends. To protect your pet, simply use common sense and take the same precautions you would with a child.

Although rodent poisons, insecticides and household cleaners are the most common sources of companion animal poisoning, the following list of less common, but potentially dangerous, agents should be avoided if at all possible.

Household Items

  • Human medications – Both prescription and over the counter medications can be potentially harmful to your pet. Some examples include aspirin and NSAIDS (Advil, Aleve, etc.), cold medicine, anti-depressants, vitamins, and diet pills. Ingesting these medications can cause symptoms ranging from intestinal ulcers to seizures and/or kidney failure. Keep medicine containers away from pets that could potentially chew through them, and be sure to find and dispose of any dropped pills.
  • Ethylene Glycol – Ethylene glycol is found in antifreeze, windshield de-icing agents and motor oils. It has a sweet taste that attracts both dogs and cats, yet is deadly if consumed in even a small quantity — as little as a teaspoon in cats or a tablespoon in dogs can cause kidney failure. Recently, manufactures of these products have agreed to add bittering agents to reduce the appeal to pets and children, however it is still important to keep them out of reach of your household pets.
  • Poisonous household plants – More than 700 plants have been identified as producing physiologically active or toxic substances in sufficient amounts to cause harmful effects in animals. These plants cause a variety of reactions ranging from mild nausea to death. Some of the most common examples include Lilies (especially for cats), azaleas, mistletoe and philodendron.
  • Mothballs – Mothballs can be toxic to dogs and cats if ingested, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination and seizures. These symptoms can be potentially life threatening.
  • Yarn, rubber bands, and dental floss – These objects can cause severe intestinal blockages if swallowed, and cats should be supervised when playing as to prevent them from ingesting the string or becoming tangled up and causing potential strangulation.
  • Zinc – Zinc toxicity can happen when our pets ingest metal or coins. Eating a single zinc penny can be fatal, with symptoms including anemia, as well as liver, kidney and even heart failure.


  • Chocolate – Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, cats and ferrets, and can cause seizures and potentially death if a high enough quantity is ingested. Darker chocolate is more toxic than milk or white chocolate, and even cocoa bean mulch can cause problems when eaten in large quantities.
  • Grapes – Grapes, raisins, currants, and even grape juice can cause kidney failure in dogs — even in small amounts.
  • Onions – The plants classified as members of the Allium family can cause toxicity in our household pets. These include onions, garlic, leeks, and chives. Ingesting these food items can cause anemia and gastroenteritis in dogs and cats as they are not able to digest them properly.
  • Xylitol – Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener commonly found in chewing gum, mints, and toothpaste. In dogs, it can lead to dangerous drops in blood sugar as well as liver failure.
  • Macadamia Nuts – Dogs should not eat macadamia nuts, raw or roasted. As few as six can cause illness in dogs. Symptoms include muscle tremors, weakness, vomiting fever and rapid heart rate.

It is also important to keep in mind that ingredients such as baking powder (or soda) and spices can be toxic to your pets. Keep these items out of reach of your pets to ensure that they do not ingest them.