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Pet Poison Prevention Month

Updated: Mar 31, 2021

By: Old Orchard Animal Clinic

It happens to the best of us. Sometimes our pets get into things they shouldn’t. Like the garbage, our brand new sneakers, or that food we walked away from for just a second. These accidents can be annoying but harmless, but there are times when these accidents could lead to a major medical emergency for your pet.

Part of being a responsible pet owner is doing your best to prevent these incidents from occurring, and knowing when a substance could become toxic for your pet. As a pet owner you should be aware of substances that are dangerous to your pet and how to act if an accident occurs. Knowing this information could save your furry friend’s life.

Common Toxic Household Substances for Cats and Dogs

Our homes should be a safe place for our pets. Unfortunately there are many everyday substances found within our homes that are dangerous for our pets. Being a responsible owner means ensuring that you keep your home as safe as possible for your pets. Being informed about potential dangers around your home could prevent an accident from happening. According to the FDA, these are some common poisonous items that could be found within your home.


  • Food products and drinks containing alcohol

  • Avocado

  • Caffeine

  • Chocolate

  • Fatty foods (fries, bacon, dairy)

  • Garlic

  • Grapes and Raisins

  • Onions

  • Salt

  • Tobacco products

  • Xylitol

  • Yeast (raw bread dough)

Non-edible household items:

  • Anti-freeze

  • Fabric softener sheets

  • Insecticides and Pesticides

  • Lawn fertilizers and Weed Killer

  • Moth Balls

  • Paint and Solvents

  • Play dough

  • Rat and Mouse Bait

  • Household Cleaners

  • Swimming pool chemicals

Steps to Take When a Toxic Substance is Ingested

According to the FDA, the toxicity of a substance to your pet may vary. While some substances listed may only be mildly toxic, others could cause more severe illness or even death. There are also other variables to consider that could increase the level of severity of the poisoning to your pet.

The FDA website states these variables could be determined by:

  • “The type of animal (cat, dog, or other species) that ate the item;

  • How much the animal ate; and,

  • For plants, which part was eaten (if it was the bulb, leaf, or flower)”

If you think your pet has ingested a toxic substance the most important thing is to act calmly and quickly and get help for your pet. If you think an accident may have happened, you should call your veterinarian immediately or contact a pet poison control center. The ASPCA is a good resource to keep in mind should an incident occur. The Animal Poison Control Center is a number available 24/7 365 days a year. The number to the poison control center is 888-426-4435. Be advised a consultation fee may apply.

VetsNow pinpoints these symptoms as some of the signs of pet poisoning: vomiting, difficulty breathing, and drooling. But the symptoms of pet poisoning will vary depending on what substance was ingested. For example, if a poison comes into contact with your dog’s skin, it could cause pain and irritation. Chocolate could cause tremors, convulsions, and heart issues whereas onions could cause drooling, nausea, diarrhea, or pale gums.

In the face of an emergency, VetsNow recommends you remove the toxic substance away from your dog and prevent re-exposure or re-ingestion. Call a vet or a pet poison prevention hotline and ask for advice on how to handle the situation. Bring the packaging or a sample of the substance with you to your check-up appointment and show it to your vet. Try to keep your furry friend as calm and relaxed as possible on the trip to your appointment.

Tips for Preventing Pet Poisoning

Poisoning can occur from a number of scenarios. Petco’s tips for preventing poisoning include these four main situations.

  • Drinking a tainted substance

  • Cleaning a toxic substance from their fur

  • Eating a poisoned pest

  • Eating a toxic substance

One of the best rules of thumb to follow is keeping any substance away from your dog that you would also keep away from your child. If you suspect a poisoning has occurred, try to pinpoint what substance was the cause. Once you’re at the vet, the treatment can vary based on if it has been “ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.” It will also help to keep these items on hand: liquid antacid, vegetable oil to either coat the intestines or to remove substances from fur, hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if needed, or diluted vinegar or lemon juice which will help neutralize an alkali. It is also a good idea to have an estimate of your pet’s weight because treatment is dependent on the proportion of it for medication doses.

Some helpful tips from Petco include locking harmful products in cabinets or using child-proof locks. Read all labels on household products and take extra precaution to keep them stored away and out of reach of pets. Remember, if you wouldn’t want your child to go near it, also keep it away from your fur babies.

When cleaning indoors, it’s best to close the door of the room you are cleaning and keep your pet out. Leaving cleaner in your toilet or in the sink could mean your pet drinks a harmful substance, and leaving cleaner on the floor could mean your pet walks on the substance and then later licks their paws. If you are painting, varnishing, or spraying herbicides or pesticides keep your pet out of the area for at least 24 hours and the substance is dry.

Keep your garage or any work area you use outdoors safe for pets by tightening lids to chemical products and cleaning any leaking product from the floor. If you are using products in your garden to keep away pests, try to find pet friendly, organic alternatives.

When it comes to our pets, accidents happen. As responsible pet owners it is up to us to ensure we know how to act in case of emergency. Knowing what to do and acting fast could make all the difference in saving your pet's life.

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