If you’ve ever found yourself frantically Googling symptoms after your dog or cat ate something it shouldn’t, you know that you can’t always tell what’s going to present a hazard to your furry companions. Some dangerous substances can come from unexpected places; you probably know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but did you know that sugar-free gum can be just as poisonous? As pet owners, we want to know we’re doing out best to protect out pets and keep them safe and healthy. One of the easiest ways to keep your pet safe is by taking preventative action and making sure you aren’t exposing them to danger via your choices of houseplant, bouquet or even essential oils. Knowing the common products that are toxic to dogs and cats can better prepare you to keep them safe and happy in your home.
You probably know that dogs can’t have chocolate, but there are a few more dangers lurking in your cabinet that you might not expect. The reason that chocolate is bad for dogs is primarily the caffeine content, which means coffee is equally toxic for pets. Xylitol, an ingredient found in a lot of sugar-free gums, is toxic to both dogs and cats. Grapes and raisins are both dangerous for dogs, as are onions and garlic. Nuts, like macadamia, almonds, pecans and walnuts, have a high fat content that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Your dog might beg for raw or undercooked meat, but they’re just as susceptible to salmonella and other bacteria-related illnesses as you are; make sure if you’re giving your dog some meat that it’s been cooked thoroughly.
Everyone loves a bouquet, but there are several blooms you might want to skip if you have animals in the house. Lilies are well known as toxic to pets, but they’re not the only plant that can do harm to your best friend. The American Animal Association’s official list of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats includes azaleas, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips. If you’re shopping for a bouquet, it’s always a good idea to look up the flowers to make sure they’re safe to bring into a home with pets. Another common but dangerous plant is aloe vera; it’s safe as a topical treatment for pets and dogs can even drink aloe juice, but chewing on the plant itself can expose your pet to toxins they can’t handle. There are a few plants that are specifically dangerous for cats like mistletoe, poinsettia, rhododendron, pothos and eucalyptus. Oleander is poisonous not just to pets but to humans as well; the blooms might look appealing but if you have pets or children in your home you might want to look for a different plant.
We might not think of fabric softener sheets as particularly toxic, but they’re coated in many chemicals that can cause acute distress if your dog or cat gets a bite of one. Coins are another hazard to be careful of; they can not only cause your dog to potentially choke or put them in intestinal distress, but the metals in coins can be toxic to dogs and do damage to their kidneys and livers.
You should obviously be careful about storing cleaning products as many of them are toxic by nature; an easy non-toxic cleaning alternative is vinegar distilled in water. If you’ve been worried about the Swiffer Wet Jet as potentially toxic to dogs or cats, though, we have good news: the ASPCA deemed that the ingredients involved are safe for use in homes with pets.
One thing you might not be thinking about when pet-proofing your home is your essential oil diffuser, but the truth is that some essential oils can be dangerous for pets due to the high concentration of different substances. Essential oils can affect cats more than dogs; ingesting any oil could harm their organs, inhaling could cause pneumonia, and skin contact might cause irritation.Whether an essential oil is toxic or not depends on the ingredients, so it’s always best to check before using a new essential oil in a space your pet has access to. Essential oils that are toxic to pets include nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, tea tree oil, thyme, oregano, lavender, wintergreen, peppermint, pine and eucalyptus. Anything with citrus (like lemon or orange) can be especially toxic to dogs.
If you’re worried that your cat or dog ingested something toxic, you can check the Pet Poison Helpline for information and next steps. Pets are a part of our family, and it’s always good to check when they eat something they’re not supposed to. Prevention and anticipation are often the best ways to make sure you can breathe easy about your pet’s safety.