Don't Poison Your Pet
We all love to treat our pets, but did you know that you might be poisoning your pet with those tasty morsels? While our pets can eat some of the same foods we enjoy, there are many "people" foods that can cause illness and even death if eaten by our pets.
There are also many human medications, common household products and plants that are toxic to our pets.
The following lists are common household substances that should not be fed to your pet or left out for your pet to "find". This is by no means a complete list because there is no way to list all of the toxic items your pet could consume. If you are uncertain about a certain foodstuff, medication, household product or plant consult your veterinarian.
Alcohol - Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
Animal Fat/Fried Foods - Excessive fat can cause pancreatitis.
Apple Seeds/Core - Contain cyanogenic glycosides resulting in cyanide poisoning.
Apricot Seeds/Pits - See Apple Seeds/Core.
Avocado - The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.
Baby Food - If feeding to a pet or using as an ingredient in pet treats be careful that the baby food doesn’t contain onion powder.
Bones - Bones, especially soft bones such as chicken bones, can splinter and damage internal organs or cause choking.
Broccoli - Broccoli is very good for dogs, however, if the daily intake exceeds more than 10% of the animals diet problems can occur. The toxic substance is isothiocyanate and can cause gastrointestinal irritation.
Cherries - See Apple Seeds/Core.
Chives - Can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but it is recommended that you do NOT give your pets large quantities.
Chocolate - Chocolate, coffee and tea contain Methylxanthine. This is a class of compounds that includes theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to pets. Poisoning can cause irregular heart rate and rhythm, restlessness, hyperactivity, diarrhea, vomiting, panting, muscle tremors, abdominal pain, bloody urine, increased body temperature, seizures, coma and possibly even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest toxicity, while baking chocolate has the highest.
Coffee/Coffee Grounds - Can result in increased breathing and heart rate, restlessness and affects the central nervous system.
Currants - Although the toxic substance is unknown, this fruit can cause kidney failure. In pets who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.
Eggplant - The leaves are poisonous but not the eggplant itself.
Eggs - Raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems.
Elderberry - Unripe berries contain cyanogenic glycosides resulting in cyanide poisoning.
Fish - Salmon (Raw) Poisoning Disease (SPD). Poisoning is caused by a rickettsial organism, Neorickettsia helminthoeca, that affects and kills dogs, but not humans or other animals. Salmon (raw) in particular is a danger but other types of fish (raw) carry the bacteria as well. If left untreated the death rate is 90%. It is preventable by cooking all fish before feeding your dog.
Garbage - Ingestion of spoiled food can cause food poisoning. This is caused by bacteria including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella spp., Bacillus spp., Clostridium perfringens, and Clostridium botulinum, or Penitrem-A (a neurotoxin). Each species of bacteria affects the body in a different way, but all can produce potentially life-threatening diseases affecting multiple body organs.
Garlic - See Chives.
Grapes - See Currants.
Hops - May cause panting, elevated temperature, increased heart rate, seizures and possibly death.
Liver - In small amounts liver is very good for your dog (less than 3 servings a week). Large amounts cause vitamin A toxicity (hypervitaminosis A). This can lead to bone problems, weight loss and anorexia. Also, never feed liver if your dog is taking vitamin A supplements, and always cook it before feeding.
Macadamia Nuts - These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
Meat - Raw and undercooked meat can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets.
Milk - Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
Mushrooms (Wild) - Amanita phalloides (Death Cap) is the most commonly reported culprit for pet (and human) poisoning although other Amanita species are toxic as well. These mushrooms resemble several edible species like the straw mushroom. Poisoning can include symtoms such as, depression, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, tearing, hallucinations, defecation, liver failure, seizures, drooling, urination, kidney failure, heart damage, hyperactivity and death.
Mustard Seeds - Can have varied effects on pets.
Nectarines - See Apple Seeds/Core.
Nutmeg - Nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures and death. It is a hallucinogen in dogs.
Onions - See Chives.
Peach Pits - See Apple Seeds/Core.
Pear Pips - See Apple Seeds/Core.
Plum Pits- See Apple Seeds/Core.
Potatoes - Cooked potatoes are good for your dog, however, poisonous alkaloids (Solanum) are present in green sprouts and green potato skins. Poisonings occur in people as well!
Raisins - See Currants.
Rhubarb - This plant (especially the leaves) contains oxalates.
Salt - Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, kidney problems and even death.
Scallions - See Chives.
Tea/Tea Bags - See Chocolate & Coffee/Coffee Grounds.
Tomatoes - Stems and leaves contain oxalates, which can cause bladder stones. The fruit itself is not the culprit, however high amounts of vitamin C can cause gastrointestinal distress.
Turkey Skin - It is known to cause acute pancreatitis in dogs.
Walnuts - Walnuts can cause gastroenteritis and are considered poisonous to dogs.
Xylitol - Used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination progressing to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can/may be be seen within a few days.
Yeast Dough - Can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats.Top
Acetaminophen - Cats are especially sensitive to acetaminophen (Tylenol) which can damage red blood cells and interfere with their ability to transport oxygen. In dogs, it can cause liver damage and, at higher doses, red blood cell damage. Two extra-strength tablets can kill a cat and lesser amounts can cause clinical signs of poisoning.
Antidepressants - These can cause vomiting and lethargy and certain types can lead to serotonin syndrome—a condition marked by agitation, elevated body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, disorientation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.
Anti-Diabetics - Many oral diabetes treatments, including Glipizide and Glyburide, can cause a major drop in blood sugar levels of affected pets. Clinical signs of ingestion include disorientation, lack of coordination and seizures.
Baclofen - This drug is used in certain neurological conditions. It is a muscle relaxant that can impair the central nervous systems of cats and dogs. Some symptoms of ingestion include significant depression, disorientation, vocalization, seizures and coma, which can lead to death.
Fluorouracil - This is an anti-cancer drug that is used topically to treat minor skin cancers and solar keratitis in humans. It has proven to be rapidly fatal to dogs, causing severe vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest even in those who’ve chewed on discarded cotton swabs used to apply the medication.
Isoniazid - This is an antibiotic that is often the first line of defense against tuberculosis. Isoniazid is particularly toxic for dogs because they don’t metabolize it as well as other species. It can cause a rapid onset of severe seizures that may ultimately result in death.
Methylphenidate (Ritalin) - Medications used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in people act as stimulants in pets and can dangerously elevate heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature, as well as cause seizures.
NSAID’s - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil & Nuprin) or naproxen (Aleve) are the most common cause of pet poisoning in small animals, and can cause serious problems even in minimal doses. Pets are extremely sensitive to their effects, and may experience stomach and intestinal ulcers and, in the case of cats, kidney damage.
Pseudoephedrine - Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is a popular decongestant in many cold and sinus products, and acts like a stimulant if accidentally ingested by pets. In cats and dogs, it causes elevated heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature as well as seizures.
Vitamin D Derivatives - Even small exposures to Vitamin D analogues like Calcipotriene and Calcitriol can cause life-threatening spikes in blood calcium levels in pets. Clinical signs of exposure, including vomiting, loss of appetite, increased urination and thirst due to kidney failure, often don’t occur for more than 24 hours after ingestion.Top
Ant/Insect Toxins - Anything used to eliminate unwanted pests, i.e. ants, roaches, wasps, snails, slugs, etc.
Antifreeze - Antifreeze has a sweet taste that attracts animals but is deadly if consumed in even small quantities; one teaspoon can kill a seven-pound cat. Ethylene glycol is the most common cause of poisoning of dogs and cats. It is also found in brake fluid, liquid rust inhibitors and hydraulic fluids.
Batteries - Batteries contain corrosives, and if ingested they can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract.
Cedar - Cedar and other soft wood shavings, including pine, emit fumes that may be dangerous to small mammals like hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, etc.
Chemicals - All types.
Citronella - Candles/Oil
Cleaning Products - All types, i.e. toilet bowl, bleach, detergents, caustics (Drano), pine oils, etc.
Cocoa Mulch - See Chocolate
Compost Piles - See Garbage
De-Icing Salts/Agents - Signs of ingestion would include excessive drooling, depression, vomiting or even electrolyte imbalances.
Fabric Softener Sheets - Clothes dryer sheets i.e. Bounce, Snuggle, etc.
Fertilizers/Lawn Care Products - Such as insecticides and herbicides can irritate your pet’s skin or mouth and can cause serious internal problems. The most serious problems resulting from fertilizer ingestion in pets is usually due to the presence of heavy metals such as iron. Ingestion of large amounts of fertilizer could cause severe gastric upset and possibly gastrointestinal obstruction.
Flea Products - Powders, sprays or collars can be toxic if used improperly.
Fly Baits - Some fly baits contain methomyl which is toxic to pets.
Fumes - Fumes from nonstick cooking surfaces and self-cleaning ovens can be deadly to birds.
Health & Hygiene Products - Mouthwash can contain boric acid which is highly toxic to dogs. Symptoms of poisoning by mouthwash include vomiting, drooling, seizures, and coma. Keep all toothpaste and personal hygiene products out of your pet’s reach.
Heavy Metals - Lead, zinc & mercury can be found in lead fishing weights, lead paint, caulking, motor oil, etc.
Playdough - Homemade.
Liquid Potpourri - Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal and ocular damage.
Medications - Prescription and Over-the-Counter
Mothballs - Naphthalene is found in mothballs, toilet bowl deodorizers, moth crystals, and moth cakes. Paradichlorobenzene is found in moth balls, moth crystals, and moth cakes and in diaper pail, toilet bowl, and restroom deodorizers. Symptoms include vomiting, seizures, brown or blue gums and an odor of mothballs from the animal’s breath, mouth, and vomitus. Liver inflammation may occur several days after exposure resulting in loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and icterus.
Rodenticides - Used to eliminate rats, mice, gophers, moles or other mammalian pests. These usually contain blood thinners that cause bleeding problems. Rodenticides are often formulated with tasty materials such as peanut butter, making them especially attractive to pets.
Swimming Pool/Spa Treatment & Supplies
Windshield Washer Fluid - Made with methanol, a poisonous alchohol. It poses as great a danger to our pets as antifreeze.Top
Below is a comprehensive, but not complete, list of common indoor and outdoor plants that are toxic or potentially fatal to your pet. Best not to let them eat plants!