A Pet Owner's Guide to Household Poisons

Anybody who has a pet at home doesn’t have to be told how precious and special they are. Four-legged companions are an integral part of society for a large portion of the population, and they depend on us to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. As such, it is important to be aware of all of the things that pose threats to our pets, and there are many things around your home and garden that may pack a lethal punch that many people are not aware of.

Educate yourself and keep your pet safe in and around your home. The following items are toxic or even lethal to household pets, and it is important to ensure that they are impossible to access by your pet or removed from the home as a means of keeping your pet safe from harm. If you have any questions about the toxicity of certain household items to do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian.

Poisonous Plants

Japanese Yew

Japanese Yew is a plant that is found in the landscaping of many homes. It is highly lethal, and it doesn’t take much to poison even the healthiest of dogs and cats. An animal must eat only one tenth of its body weight in order to have ingested a fatal amount of this plant. This can cause a sudden death from heart failure, and should be removed from the home and surrounding areas at all costs.

The Araceae Family

These plants are usually found in the home or yard. When ingested, plants in the Araceae family cause calcium oxalate crystals to form in the organs, causing a type of allergic reaction in most animals. Animals that have ingested such a plant might experience severe salivation, shaking of the head, difficulty breathing and even vomiting and loose stool. Fortunately, most animals prefer not to eat this due to the taste and those cases that do result in death are normally the result of severe boredom or hunger.


Rhododendrons and other plants that contain cardiac glycosides are fatal for pets. They have been used for some time in the treatment of heart issues, but the ingestion of plants that contain this material can cause death. Luckily, most animals do not like the taste of this plant and will avoid it at all costs.


Nightshades are plants that are usually found in or near the home. They are known as ornamental plants, and they contain a chemical called solanine that affects the stomach or brain of the pet. Vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool and stomach pain are all signs of poisoning by nightshade. Salivation and excessive drowsiness are also signs of this type of poisoning. If you suspect your pet has gotten into this type of plant, a veterinarian should be summoned as quickly as possible.

Poisonous Drugs

Acetaminophen (a.k.a Tylenol)

Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, is another substance found in the home that poses a poisoning threat to your pets. Most homes have acetaminophen in the home, so be sure that it is out of reach of your pet. Cats and dogs are not able to process this drug properly and it can cause significant tissue damage in pets.

Aspirin and Ibuprofen

Aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAID (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) are known poisons to household pets. On occasion, they are prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation in pets, but poisoning can occur with owners who try to medicate their pets on their own. Dosages for pets are substantially lower than they are for humans, and cats in particular are more sensitive to the effects of these drugs.

Household Products

Ant Poisons and Insecticides

People purchase ant poisons, roach poisons and insecticides as a way of keeping their home and yard free of pests, but many people don’t know of the harm that they stand to cause to their pets and their neighbor’s pets. There are such things as items like this that are safe for use around pets and it is best to check those out rather than have to worry about the potential harm to your pets. Most products that are not clearly marked as safe for pets can make a cat or dog very sick, or even cause death.

A vet should be seen as soon as possible if treatment is to be effective, at all.



More animals are poisoned by antifreeze than anything else. Why? Because it tastes good, and it is so prevalent. Antifreeze has a very sweet taste, and when dogs and cats are thirsty they tend to drink out of gutters and drains that contain antifreeze. Don’t ever let them, and don’t keep them in areas where they might come into contact with the stuff; garages and sheds are a good example of such a place.

Cleaning Products

There are so many things around your home that can cause poisoning to your pets and fall into this category. Bleach, Lysol, toilet bowl cleaners, laundry detergent, soap, cleanser—you name it, it can make your pet sick if ingested. Many of these items can even kill. Don’t ever leave mop water out, put other cleaning products away and out of reach, and lock up your pet while cleaning. It’s much better to be safe than it is to be sorry.

Flea Products

Pet owners spend a lot of money every year buying things to help rid their pets and their homes of those nasty little pests called fleas. They are annoying to people and even more annoying to pets, but used in the wrong way they also have the potential to make a pet very sick or even cause death. Read the label very carefully for proper instructions on use and follow them to the tee to be sure that your pet is not harmed by them.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals such as lead and zinc also have the potential to poison our pets, and strangely so. While many people might not realize it, these metals can make our pets very sick or even cause death. A toy, a battery, a drapery ornament or fishing weight—these are all things that pets can ingest that can cause such poisoning. Keep them all out of your pet’s reach and avoid tragic results.


Squirrels, bats, rats, and mice—these can be annoying in or near our homes to say the least. People spend lots of money ridding their homes of them, not even knowing of the threats that they pose to their pets. If you want to keep your pet safe, use these items sparingly and never in an area where they might come into contact with your pet.


Keep your pet out of the garbage. This is much easier said than done, but you never know what is in the garbage, and it is a receptacle designed to stow away disposable items that we would rather keep our families and pets away from. There are pet safe garbage bins for those families with nosier pets. If necessary, store your garbage outside or in a cabinet—anywhere Fido won’t get near it.


Teflon poisoning is usually an issue with birds. When pans or pots that contain Teflon are heated on the stove, they release a type of poisonous gas that can make birds sick or kill them. It is best to remove them from the house or anywhere near the kitchen when cooking with items that contain Teflon.


Chocolate contains methylxanthines, the active ingredient that is so fatal to pets. Many people want to share their treats with pets, but don’t know of the harm it may cause. Keep even small amounts of chocolate away from your pets, no matter how much they beg. Do it for their health’s sake!

In short, there are many things around your home that could harm your pet. Be educated and poison-proof your home now, for the sake of your pet.