Common Household Items that are Hazardous to Dogs and Cats

Island Hammock Pet Hospital is dedicated to educating pet parents about the common, and not always obvious, dangers lurking in their homes and yards. Courtesy of the Pet Poison Helpline and its contributing veterinarians, we’ve put together a helpful list for you to consult if you have any reservations about your pet’s safety.

dog and owner outside in key largo, fl
If you have any questions about pet hazards, feel free to reach out to us.

There are a variety of human foods that can make dogs and cats very sick. These include chocolate, xylitol, and grapes/raisins. Certain types of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, are highly toxic to dogs; theobromine, a chemical related to caffeine, can affect the heart and cause muscle tremors in pets.

Many sugar-free treats, including candy, gum, and even some baked goods, contain xylitol. Even ingesting just a small amount of this sweetener can be life-threatening for a dog, causing a sudden drop in blood sugar and affecting the liver.

Raisins and grapes are harmful to both dogs and cats, and can cause kidney failure, which can also be fatal.

This includes bait stations, sprays, and topical flea and tick treatments (if not applied appropriately). Pesticides containing organophosphates can be life-threatening to dogs if ingested even in small amounts. Inappropriate use of topical flea and tick treatment can also be dangerous for cats, whether it’s applied to the skin or ingested.

Mouse and rat poisons are highly toxic to cats and dogs. If ingested, they can cause internal bleeding, swelling of the brain, kidney failure, vomiting, and possibly bloat. Additionally, if your dog or cat eats a dead rodent that has in turn consumed poison, this “relay toxicity” can also harm your pet.

Bufo Toads are a large species of toad that can be found in the Upper Keys. They are not native to our country, but their population has grown here in Southern Florida, making them a serious risk for dogs and cats. When threatened, Bufo Toads secrete an extremely toxic substance from glands situated at the back of the head. If ingested, this substance can very well be deadly to pets. Symptoms of poisoning including head shaking, drooling, crying, loss of coordination, convulsions, and seizures.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for humans can cause several harmful effects in dogs, including stomach ulcers, intestinal ulcers, and kidney failure. Common NSAIDs you should keep out of your pet’s reach include Advil, Aleve, and Motrin. Anything that contains ibuprofen or naproxen can potentially be dangerous.

Keep all of your home cleaners out of your pet’s reach whenever possible. Even self-proclaimed natural cleaners can be harmful. Sprays, detergents, polishes and wipes all contain a variety of chemicals, some of which are highly corrosive. Store lye, rust remover, calcium and lime remover, drain cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, and multi-purpose bathroom cleaner responsibly.

This includes Zoloft, Prozac, Effexor, Celexa, and Paxil. Ingesting any of these drugs can cause various neurological problems in your pet, such as seizures, tremors, lack of coordination, agitation, and sedation. Be very careful about storing and using your medication. If you drop a tablet, be sure to pick it up right away, and dispose of it in a place your pet can’t reach.

Dermaxx, Previcox, and Rimadyl are COX-2 inhibitors that can, if ingested in overly large doses, cause acute kidney failure and gastric ulceration in dogs.

Fertilizers that can be harmful to your pet include any that contain bone meal, blood meal, feather meal, and iron-based products. Ingesting enough can result in pancreatitis or gastrointestinal obstruction.

Cold medications and Tylenol contain acetaminophen. A single Tylenol tablet can be fatal for cats. For dogs, ingesting enough acetaminophen can cause dry eye and significant liver failure if ingested in a large enough quantity.

Medications for ADD/ADHD, such as Adderall and Concerta, contain very strong stimulants that can cause life-threatening seizures, tremors, an elevated body temperature, and heart trouble.

Here in Florida, iguanas are considered an invasive species, and they multiply quickly. This makes having an encounter with an iguana inevitable. While iguanas are not generally aggressive, they do have sharp teeth and may lash out in self-defense, which can cause serious injury. One of the biggest problems, however, is what happens when a cold snap occurs. During a cold snap, iguanas can fall out of the trees and lay stunned on the ground, making them an interesting target for curious dogs. The skin on an iguana contains harmful bacteria which can, if ingested, cause fatal botulism poisoning. Never let your dog approach a live (or dead) iguana.

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dog and cat in hammock by palm trees

For more information about pet poison control and common poison hazards, visit the Pet Poison Helpline or call (855) 764-7661.