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Common Household Hazards for Cats & Dogs

Jul 01 2022

Common Household Hazards for Cats & Dogs

Common Household Poisons

With various dangers lurking in corners and cabinets, the home can be a minefield of poisons for our pets. Pets get exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products. Don’t leave it up to Marley or Fluffy to keep themselves safe.

Human Medications

Human medications involve prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants, and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so it’s essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.


One of the most common incidents involved the misuse of flea and tick products—such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, it’s always important to talk to your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.

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People Food

People's food like grapes, raisins, avocado, and products containing xylitol, like gum, can seriously disable our furry friends, and accounted for more than 17,453 cases in 2009. One of the worst offenders—chocolate—contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, and seizures.

Toxic Plants

Varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe, and Schefflera are often found in homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.

Veterinary Medications

Even though veterinary medications are intended for pets, they’re often misapplied or improperly dispensed by pet parents. Most common animal-related preparations such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, Vaccines (given by the owner), and nutritional supplements are misused.


Pets who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons. Many baits used to attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to pets as well. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets including bleeding, seizures, or kidney damage.

Household Cleaners

Everybody knows that household cleaning supplies can be toxic to adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets from common agents such as bleaches, detergents, and disinfectants. These products, when inhaled by our furry friends, can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.

Heavy Metals

It’s not too much loud music that constitutes our next pet poison offender. Instead, it’s heavy metals such as lead, zinc, and mercury. Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded. Pennies cause zinc toxicity Post-1982 pennies (due to high concentration of zinc).

Lawn and Garden Products

It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer and garden products can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Fertilizer exposure can cause severe gastric upset and possibly gastrointestinal problems.

Chemical Hazards

Pet exposure to chemical hazards is on the rise. Chemical hazards—found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners, and pool/spa chemicals—form a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties, and chemical burns.

Prevention is really key to avoiding accidental exposure, but if you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact us or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions about common pet hazards?


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