nervous dog at vet office

How to Prevent Accidental Poisoning

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There are dangers lurking around every corner! On account of this, we all make sure to teach our children what they can and cannot put in their mouths, we watch them like hawks, and we baby proof our homes.

However, we may not realize that we should also be taking these same precautions with our pets. March is Prevent Accidental Poisoning Month, so I have put together a list of items which are dangerous for our pets, and with which we should take extra steps to prevent access. This list is not comprehensive but covers common household dangers.

Caution with Common Chemicals:

There are dangerous chemicals all over our homes. These items are all dangerous to humans and to pets, but humans are not as likely to try to eat them (once we reach a certain age).

We should make sure that these items are up high and out of reach, in the garage or in a room to which our pets don’t have access, or behind child safety locks.

A mop and bucket with household chemicals behind it.


  • Household cleaning products should not be ingested. This includes laundry detergent, bleach, mopping liquid, and anything else we use to clean our homes!
  • We shouldn’t let our dogs or cats drink out of the toilet bowl. We cleaned it with chemicals and they are still there.
  • Poisons for killing rodents and insects are toxic and should not be used where our dogs or cats may be able to access them. Try using diatomaceous earth for any insect problems. It is food grade and non-toxic to humans and pets.
  • Cigarettes, ashtrays and smoking cessation products are all harmful to our pets.
  • Perfumes, colognes, potpourri and other household scents can be harmful to pets.
  • Ethylene glycol (commonly found in antifreeze) is harmful to pets and has a sweet, tempting taste.
  • Batteries and glue can be toxic to pets also.
  • We should be aware that chemical spills in the driveway or street can be harmful if our pets lick them, even if they are old and dried. Thoroughly hose down any area where there has been a chemical spill.

Frequently Fed Foods:

Some human foods can have harmful effects on our pets. In most cases, if our dog or cat happens to get their paws on a little scrap of these food items, they will be fine. However, we should not feed these foods to our pets in large quantities. These foods should also remain secured away from pets so they cannot gain access while we are not home or when we’ve turned our back. Also, remember to keep garbage cans closed off from pets!

Some of the foods for which we should watch include:


A jar of Xylitol or Birch Sugar as its also called.

  • Dark baker’s chocolate
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Bones that fracture easily (cooked bones)
  • Coffee/tea
  • Xylitol-sweetener found in gums and SO MUCH ELSE in recent years

Malevolent Medications:

Some human medications can be used to treat our pets, but others are highly toxic! We absolutely should NOT give our pets human medications without verifying that they are safe. Some common harmful medications are:

Three open pill bottles with pills falling out.

  • Antidepressants
  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen

Poisonous Plants:

The following plants are some of the most dangerous to pets. We should check to see if we have them in our home, and if we do, keep them out of reach. Also, we should beware of what is growing in our yards as well as our neighbors’ yards.

A Golden puppy smelling a flower pot with a banana palm.

Plant and yard fertilizers and herbicides, as well as some wild mushrooms, can also be harmful, so we shouldn’t leave our pets unsupervised near them.

I keep my plants outdoors and supervise outside time, or up high and out of reach in my house. Besides protecting my animals from harmful plants and flowers, I have to be sure to protect my flowers from cats who like to eat them!

  • Autumn Crocus– can cause internal bleeding, damage organs, and cause respiratory failure
  • Azalea– even a few leaves can cause vomiting and diarrhea, coma and death
  • Cyclamen roots– can cause vomiting and death
  • Kalanchoe– can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and heart arrhythmias
  • Daffodils– can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmias, and respiratory depression
  • Lilies– the Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies are very poisonous to cats and they can cause kidney failure
  • Lily of the Valley– can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dropped heart rate, cardiac arrhythmia, and seizures
  • Sago Palm– can cause vomiting, bloody stools, damaged stomach lining, liver failure, and even death

How to Pet-Proof Our Homes

Let’s each commit to doing a sweep of our home, garage and yard this month and make sure that we have secured all of the harmful items!

As I said before, I like to use childproof door locks to keep my pets from getting to chemicals, medications, garbage cans, and pantry foods.

Fender, my 11-year-old cat likes to open cabinets and knock things down for the dogs to get. This is why the childproof locks come in so handy at my house.

We should keep our medications and supplements up high, out of reach or in the locked cabinets as well.

Also, the guest room at my house stays closed all the time. No cats or dogs are allowed in, and this is where I keep ingredients for my homemade cleaning products and hygiene products, some of which can be harmful if ingested (like Xylitol). This way, I know my guest room stays clean and these items are away from pets.

Oh, no! My dog ate my chocolate!

What if we have done our best to prevent accidental poisoning by securing dangerous items, but we missed something or our clever cat or dog got his paws on something anyway?

Here are the steps we should remember or post on the fridge:

A first aid kit with a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide.

  • Keep hydrogen peroxide on hand to induce vomiting if necessary
  • Contact your vet, or if it’s after closing time contact your local emergency vet immediately
  • Keep these phone numbers easily on hand or even saved in your phone for emergency situations
  • We can also contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. They are available 24/7, but will charge you a $49 fee. This fee will cover follow-ups and multiple phone calls.

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