March 04, 2024 4 min read

March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month. It’s important to be aware of potential hazards that could harm your pets. Your pets do not know what is poisonous to them, so you need to help keep them safe in your home. We are here to help you become aware of potentially toxic items in your household to keep away from your pet. While this list is full of many common toxic items found in households, it is not a list of every possible toxic item. Be sure to do your own research if you are unsure about something in your home.


Common Toxins

1. Medications

Many of the most common toxins to your pets are found in your household. Over the counter and prescription medications make up most pet poisoning cases. This list of medications includes:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Aspirin
  • Antihistamines
  • Cold and flu medications
  • Diet pills
  • Vitamins
  • Herbal supplements
  • ADHD medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Heart medications
  • Cancer medications and more
Human medications metabolize differently in pets and can cause serious or even fatal health problems. For example: NSAIDS (such as Advil, Aleve, or Motrin) can cause serious stomach ulcers as well as kidney failure. Acetaminophen can lead to liver failure and damaged blood cells. Antidepressants can lead to neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, agitation, tremors, and seizures.


2. Human Food

Human food is also a big cause of pet poisoning cases. There are many foods that people can eat but will cause serious health problems in pets. Common toxic foods include:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Coffee grounds or caffeine
  • Fatty foods
  • Tea
  • Avocado
  • Alcohol
  • Yeast dough
  • Salt
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Cherries
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries,
  • Xylitol and more

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that can be found in sugarless gums, candies, mints, flavored multi-vitamins, and some peanut butters. Even small amounts can result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and large amounts can lead to liver failure. Chocolate contains caffeine and a chemical called theobromine which dogs are unable to metabolize. Darker chocolate is more toxic, but all chocolate should be avoided.


3. Common Household Items

Many products in your house or garage can be toxic to your pet. Common products include:

  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Cleaning products such as bleach, detergents or toilet cleaning products
  • Bath and hand soaps
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreens
  • Pest controlling products such as rodenticides, insecticides, and herbicides, and mothballs
  • Fertilizers
  • Lawn treatment chemicals
  • Antifreeze
  • Ice-melting products
  • Gasoline and more

These products can contain chemicals that can cause serious health problems in your pets.


Signs Of Poisoning

Some chemicals can cause burns on skin but others may stick to your pet and be ingested when they lick their fur. Following the instructions and securing the toxic products away from your pets will help to prevent any cases of poisoning.


Signs and symptoms of poisoning can include

  • Vomiting and diarrhea possibly with blood present
  • Excessive drooling
  • Hypersalivating,
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy or restlessness
  • Pale gums
  • Seizures or tremors, or collapse
  • Internal bleeding may show symptoms including coughing up blood, vomiting blood, pale gums, racing heart rate, weakness or lethargy, or collapse
  • Kidney failure may show symptoms including halitosis (“uremic” breath), inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, absence or decreased urination
  • Liver failure may show symptoms including jaundice/icterus/yellow discoloration to the gums, weakness or collapse secondary to low blood sugar, dull mentation, acting abnormally, vomiting, diarrhea, or black-tarry stool (melena)


How To Prevent Accidental Poisoning

While the list of potential toxins may seem overwhelming at first, it’s definitely possible to keep your pet safe! You just need to stay aware of the potential threats and take action to prevent any accidental poisonings.

  • Keep toxic products out of the reach of your pets
  • Keep medicines secure in cabinets and in their containers
  • Don’t leave loose medication lying around or in Ziploc bags that are easy to chew through
  • Keep your medication separate from your pets medication so there are no accidental mix-ups
  • When handling food that is toxic to your pets, keep it out of reach so they cannot sneak a bite
  • Don’t feed your pet any food you are unsure about without proper research and consulting your veterinarian
  • Keep dangerous chemicals secure in their containers and lock them in places your pets cannot access
  • When using cleaning products be sure to read the instructions and follow them exactly so your pet does not get exposed to dangerous chemicals

If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, be sure to act as soon as possible. Take your pet to your veterinarian immediately if you saw your pet ingest something poisonous or if they show any signs or symptoms of poisoning. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call them, and they can help guide you through how you need to react to deal with the situation. A consultation fee may apply when you call.

The most important thing to remember is to stay aware of potential hazards for your pet and to take action to prevent them from getting into anything toxic. Your pet will not know what is poisonous to them when investigating a new product. It’s your responsibility to keep them safe and away from harmful materials.

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