Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Common household toxins to keep away from pets

The essentials

  • Many pets accidentally ingest toxins — Sniffing, digging, licking, and grooming all put pets at risk after they’ve unknowingly come in contact with toxins. 
  • Unexpected foods can be poisonous — While chocolate is probably the most well-known dog toxin, there are many others, like green tomatoes, which contain the toxin solanine.
  • Look for signs of poisoning — Symptoms of poisoning in dogs and cats include drooling, pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and tremors.

Did you know pet-proofing your home can keep your fur babies safe? Many everyday household items are toxic to pets, including foods, medications, and plants. Chocolate and grapes are well-known for being unsafe, but others, like macadamia nuts, still pose a risk to pets. 

Some pets are a little more frisky and like to get into things, even if they know they aren’t supposed to. Knowing what cat and dog toxins lurk in your home can keep them safe and prevent the stress associated with eating something they’re not supposed to. Many unsuspected things around your home can be toxic and even fatal. 

Here is a breakdown of some of the most common toxins found in homes.

1. Human foods

It’s easy to not realize that some lesser-known foods are toxic to our furry friends, especially if you share human food treats with them or if they’re constantly scouring the counters. But, there are many foods our pets can’t have. 

The way they digest food is much different than humans, which is why many foods we can eat are dangerous to them. How toxic a food is will also depend on the pet’s size, how much they’ve eaten, and what they’ve eaten.

Chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, bones, chives, onions, green tomatoes, and garlic are toxic foods for dogs and cats. Nutmeg, fruit pits and seeds, yeast dough, baking soda, and baking powder are also toxic for dogs. Toxic foods for cats include things like liver, citrus, and uncooked potatoes.

Sugar substitutes like xylitol are extremely toxic and can be fatal to dogs. Unfortunately, this sneaky sweetener hides in peanut butter, jellies, sugar-free gums, candies, desserts, oral hygiene products, and many other things. 

Xylitol poisoning can start within just 20 minutes of ingestion, with symptoms including vomiting, weakness or collapse, shaking, and difficulty walking and standing. Unlike with dogs, studies show that xylitol is not toxic to cats, and even in high doses, it does not drop their blood sugar.

2. Medications

Most of us have medications lying around our homes. Whether that’s over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, or recreational drugs, a lot of medications can be deadly, which is why they need to be stored out of your pet’s reach and safely away. 

Over-the-counter medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are one of the most dangerous toxins to keep away from your pets. Most of these are forgotten about and left in easy-to-reach places. The problem with these is that many are fatal and can cause organ failure as a result of ingestion.

Medications like ibuprofen, Tylenol, aspirin, naproxen, cold medications, supplements, and other anti-inflammatories are left in bags, backpacks, on countertops, and other places where pets can accidentally get into them. 

Many OTC medications are also stored in pill organizer trays and plastic bags. For some pets, this can make them even more enticing for those who like to chew things. The best way to prevent potentially fatal outcomes is to keep pills in the original packaging and out of reach in cupboards, cabinets, or drawers in areas where your pet can’t get into them.  


Prescription medications are all too common in our homes. Anti-depressants, pain medications, ADHD medications, heart medications, and diabetes and blood pressure medications are among the most common prescriptions found in homes. These can be incredibly dangerous for our furry friends.

For example, ingestion of amphetamines (the main ingredient in ADHD medication like Adderall) and antidepressants (like Effexor) can lead to dangerous and life-threatening issues. Even if your pet ingests a small amount, these medications can lead to seizures, dangerous changes to body temperature, bluish gums and skin, low blood pressure, and even coma. 

Other medications, like veterinary prescriptions, are often flavored to make them easier to give to our pets, but this also makes them more appealing. Some pups may steer clear, but others may seek it out, searching for the beef-flavored scent. 

Like with human prescriptions, make sure to keep any veterinary prescriptions out of reach in the refrigerator, or stored in cupboards or cabinets up high. 

Recreational drugs

Marijuana’s legality in many states has increased the access to recreational drugs. Not just the drug itself but edibles in gummy form, cookies, brownies, and other candies, have become more popular. Many of these edibles may get left on the table or the counter, and for those pets that like to get into things or engage in attention-seeking behavior , this poses a problem.

Don’t let your pet eat marijuana edibles or anything else that has recreational drugs. In the past, pet deaths related to marijuana weren’t that common. But in the legal age of marijuana, pet deaths have occurred related to ingestion of foods with medical-grade THC (the main ingredient in marijuana).

THC is definitely toxic for dogs. And chocolate toxicity will compound this if a dog gets a hold of one of those special brownies.

Dr. Erica Irish

3. Plants and garden products

While beneficial and beautiful for humans, certain houseplants are unsafe for our furry companions. Many houseplants are extremely poisonous to dogs and cats. The corn plant, philodendrons, snake plants, pothos, hyacinths, dieffenbachia, aloe, and jade are all toxic houseplants.

Additionally, most plants we decorate with around holidays are toxic. For example, Easter lilies are so toxic that if your cat eats just one leaf or gets the pollen on their fur and ingests it while grooming, they can suffer kidney failure. Other indoor plants, like sago palms, cause severe liver failure and can be fatal if not immediately treated.

Garden products like fertilizers should be kept out of reach, away from pets, and locked away. Many animals may be attracted to fertilizers because they usually smell pretty good (to dogs especially). These products usually contain fish, blood, or bone meal and have an unmistakable stench once you smell them.

Pet-safe fertilizers exist, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe for ingesting. 

Epsoma Organic products are pet-safe, and according to their site, they can be used where pets play. They don’t use any material that’s considered hazardous or toxic by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Jonathan Green is another organic garden product company whose products are pet-safe. Their products state that they are safe for pets immediately after applying. They use feed-grade ingredients, which differentiates them from traditional fertilizer products.

4. Household products

These everyday toxic household products include paints, toilet bowl cleaners, mothballs, super glue, and bleach. Even if pets don’t ingest them directly, these items are still dangerous. They can get sick by absorbing toxins through their skin, inhaling them, or ingesting them when they lick them off of their paws or fur.

Another typical household garage product is old antifreeze, known for its sweet smell and fluorescent yellow liquid that attracts pets. Even in small amounts, antifreeze can be fatal. Today, antifreeze manufacturers must include a bittering agent to make it unpalatable for animals or children who mistakenly drink it. So, if you have antifreeze from before 2011, it’s best to toss it to prevent any poisoning.

Keep these products in cabinets that can’t be opened, with latches or locks, or in pet-proof containers or bins. Always read the label and ask your vet if you’re unsure about its safety. Don’t let your pet wander around the house or in the garage unattended to help prevent anything from happening.


5. Pesticides and rodenticides

Pesticides come in baits, sprays, and fog, and pets unknowingly come in contact with them. Many pets like to dig, sniff, lick, and eat random things and accidentally ingest these poisons. Because most pesticides target the nervous system, it makes them especially dangerous and can lead to respiratory failure and death .

Rodenticides are poisonous products used to kill mice and rats. They attract animals due to their sweet smell and tasty flavor. Although they’re targeted for mice and rats, accidental ingestion can occur. 

Referred to as primary exposure, this happens when cats, dogs, and other non-targeted species directly ingest the poison. It’s the most common poisoning in dogs and can occur in cats through grooming. 

The other type of poisoning, called secondary exposure, occurs when your pet or another non-target animal eats a rodent that died from rodenticides. If this occurs, they will most likely be okay. 

Even a cat would have to eat a lot of mice for secondary poisoning to occur.  It can also occur when an animal is frequently exposed to low amounts of it. Still, it’s probably best if that’s avoided altogether.

Even small amounts of these household items can be toxic to pets. The severity of poisoning depends on the animal, their size, and the amount they ingested. But to play it safe, keep these items out of reach and stored away where pets can’t get them.

Frequently asked questions

What are signs of toxicity in dogs?

Common symptoms of toxicity and poisoning in dogs and cats include drooling, pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and tremors.

What is the most common poisoning in dogs?

The most common dog poisonings are usually from foods, human medications, plants, detergents, and rodenticides.

What are the toxic substances for dogs?

Xylitol, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, onions, and garlic, are some of the most common toxic substances for dogs.

What is a list of things that are poisonous to dogs?

Chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, xylitol, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, bones, chives, onions, garlic, nutmeg, fruit pits and seeds, yeast dough, baking soda, and baking powder are all poisonous to dogs. Many plants, medications, household and garden products, and rodenticides and pesticides are also poisonous to dogs.

Is sugar-free gum more toxic to dogs than chocolate?

Yes. The main ingredient found in sugar-free gum, xylitol, is highly toxic to dogs, much more than chocolate. A dog only needs to eat a few pieces of gum for it to be fatal  

Do I have to look up “Can dogs eat this?” every time I share a new snack with my dog?

Most likely, yes. It’s the safest bet to look up what safe foods dogs can eat and what are toxic to them.