There’s a wide variety of toxic items that the average pet owner is aware of; however, there are also toxins lurking around our house that may not be so obvious or well known.  The following list can help you be more aware of these worrisome products.   The symptoms for these toxins may be as mild as an upset stomach or as extreme as death.  In any event, if your pet is exhibiting signs of a possible toxic ingestion or exposure, immediately bring it to a

veterinarian or directly contact Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.  Do not try home remedies or making your pet vomit, because some items are caustic and can cause more damage coming back up.  Some severe burns caused by a caustic material may not be seen (and may take up to several hours to be apparent) or may be located in a place that is out of view (the esophagus).  If you suspect a poisoning, the best thing you can do for your pet is to have them seen by a veterinarian.  Many toxins cause initial changes that can only be detected through bloodwork, that only later (sometimes when it’s too advanced) show up as symptoms you might detect.

Most toxicities to pets involve human medications.  NSAIDS:  Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Naproxen, aspirin; other pain meds, like Tylenol; prescription pain medications: like Vicodin, Percocet; antidepressants: Zoloft, Cymbalta; sleep aids: Ambien, Lunesta; muscle relaxants: Lioresal, Flexeril.  Several of these drugs can be lethal if ingested.

An important veterinary medication to be extra cautious about is Rimadyl.  This commonly prescribed NSAID is unique in that it is extremely tasty to pets; they’ve been known to eat through the plastic bottle and the entire contents, which at these high doses could harm their intestines, kidneys, and liver.  Please make sure it is kept in a drawer or cabinet, not left on a countertop where pets may find a way to reach it.

Other common household items include, but are not limited to:

Detergents: toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners, dishwashing granules/tablets/liquid, and laundry soap


Ice Melts


Xylitol: sugarless gums and mints

Glow Jewelry

Homemade Play Dough

Hand Warmers

Fluoride: human toothpaste or children’s fluoride supplements

Zinc: pennies


Macadamia Nuts


Dark and Milk Chocolate

Moldy/Spoiled Food/Compost piles


The best way to keep your pets away from potentially toxic exposures is to lock items away safely as though you had a toddler in the house.  Instead of “child-proofing” your house, you’re “pet-proofing” it.  If you think an item might be toxic, it probably is.  It’s always worth checking with your veterinarian so your pet stays safe.



Written by: RiAnn Yano, Licensed Veterinary Technician