Numerous pets are poisoned every year, with serious, potentially life-threatening consequences. Toxins can be found throughout your home, and our Heritage Veterinary Clinic team provides valuable information about common pet toxins and explains how you can safeguard your four-legged friend.

Pet poisons

Numerous items and products found around your home are poisonous to pets, including:

  • Foods — Foods that are toxic to pets include chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, sugar-free foods that contain xylitol, alcohol, and raw yeast dough.
  • Prescription medications — Human prescription medications that can cause problems for your pet include antidepressants, anti-cancer drugs, sleep aids, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications, blood pressure and cardiac medications, and hormone replacement products.
  • Over the counter (OTC) medications — OTC pet-toxic medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, acetaminophen, cold and allergy medications, and vitamin D supplements.
  • Veterinary medications Veterinary medications can also be dangerous for your pet, if not administered correctly. Concerns include:
    • Your pet raids their medicine stash and eats a large dose.
    • Your dog receives your cat’s medication.
    • Your cat receives your dog’s medication.
    • Your one pet receives medication meant for another pet.
  • Plants — Many plants in and around your home, including azaleas, lilies, tulips, foxglove, chrysanthemums, dieffenbachia, ficus plants, oleander, and marijuana, are pet-toxic. Lilies are especially dangerous for cats.
  • Household products — Many household products are dangerous for your pet. Examples include antifreeze, rodenticides, de-icing salts, household cleaning products, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, fertilizers, pesticides, drain cleaners, potpourri, mothballs, paint, paint thinner, and toothpaste.

Pet poison signs

Because pets are sneaky, you may not witness them eating the toxic item. Signs that your pet may have been exposed to a toxin include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence
  • Incoordination
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Unexplained bruising or bleeding

Pet poison first aid

If you know or suspect your pet has been exposed to a toxin, you should take the following steps:

  • Remain calm — Remain calm, so you can help your pet and ensure they get the care they need. If you panic, your pet can sense your anxiety, so staying calm will help reduce their stress.
  • Remove the toxin — Remove the toxin, so your pet can’t be further exposed.
  • Contact help — Immediately call Heritage Veterinary Clinic or Animal Poison Control for expert advice.
  • Provide information about your pet — Be prepared to provide your pet’s information, such as breed, age, weight, health history, and medications they are currently taking.
  • Provide information about the toxin — If possible, save the product label, so you can relay information about active ingredients and product concentration. You will also be asked the time your pet ingested the substance and about any signs they are exhibiting.
  • Gather a sample — If your pet vomits, collect a sample in case testing is needed.
  • Don’t induce vomiting — Vomiting is contraindicated in some cases, and only a veterinary professional should induce vomiting in your pet.
  • Don’t give home remedies — Home remedies can cause further harm, so follow only a veterinary expert’s instructions.

Pet poison prevention

Not all pet poisoning incidents can be prevented, but steps that can reduce your pet’s risk include:

  • Keep food out of sight — Don’t keep food on your counters to prevent tempting your pet. Pay special attention to storage locations for pet-toxic foods, such as chocolate and raisins.
  • Keep your trash in sealed containers — Store your garbage in sealed containers that your pet can’t easily knock over.
  • Don’t feed your pet table scraps — While some human foods are safe for pets, your pet will stay more healthy if they don’t eat table scraps. Feed your pet only food and treats specifically formulated for their species.
  • Read product labels — Before feeding your pet a new product, read the label to ensure no pet toxins are included.
  • Patrol your guests — Ensure your guests don’t give your pet table scraps, and quickly pick up discarded plates and cups.
  • Store medications securely — Store all medications securely in an area inaccessible to your pet.
  • Ask for veterinary advice — Never administer medication to your pet without first checking with a veterinary professional. 
  • Check the label — Before administering a medication, check the label to ensure the product is meant for your pet.
  • Take medications safely — When you take a medication or supplement, ensure your pet isn’t nearby to prevent them grabbing a dropped pill.
  • Investigate your plants — Investigate the plants in and around your home to ensure they are pet-friendly.
  • Store household products securely — Store household products on high shelves or behind latched doors so your pet cannot investigate.
  • Prevent access — If you use rodenticide, fertilizer, pesticide, or another dangerous chemical, ensure your pet can’t access the area.
  • Clean spills — Immediately clean up antifreeze and other harmful product spills.
  • Wipe paws — After a winter outing, clean your pet’s paws and wipe their coat to remove de-icing salts.

Educating yourself about common pet toxins and reducing your pet’s exposure risk will help prevent a poison-related emergency. If your pet is exhibiting signs that may indicate a toxin exposure, contact our Heritage Veterinary Clinic team, so we can provide the care they need.