Spring is just around the corner with March 20th marking the first day. You may already have the urge to start planning your spring garden or adding plants inside your home. But realize that many household and garden plants can be toxic to pets along with other items such as foods, cleaning products and medications if ingested or inhaled by your pet. Read on to learn which items in and around your home are pet poisons, the signs of poisoning in pets, and how to protect your beloved furry friend from being accidentally poisoned.

Identify Basic Household Pet Poisons

It’s essential to be aware of potential poisons in your home, like cleaning solutions, medications such as painkillers, blood thinners, antihistamines, etc., and vitamins that can be very dangerous for your pet. Please do not keep them in areas accessible by animals, such as tabletops, shelves, or countertops. Make sure all bottles are labeled correctly and store any potentially hazardous items where your pets cannot get at them.

If you have a clever pet that can open cupboards, you can put child locks on the cupboard doors to keep your pet safe. There is also a product by PetSafe called Sscat that you can use to deter and train cats to stay off countertops. 

Here are some of the common household products that are poisonous to pets:

  • Cleaning solutions
  • Pest control products: Pest control products can be lethal to pets. Before purchasing or using any pest control products, read the directions and safety use notes.
  • Medications
    • Painkillers
    • Heart medications
    • Anti-psychotic drugs
    • Antihistamines
    • NSAIDS: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Vitamins:  Vitamins intended for humans can be toxic to pets if eaten in large amounts.
    • Chewable vitamins can be flavored with xylitol.
    • Too much vitamin D can result in a very elevated calcium level in your pet’s body, resulting in secondary kidney failure.
    • Prenatal vitamins often contain higher levels of iron, which can result in severe vomiting, diarrhea, and even organ damage and failure.
    • Too much calcium in a pet can lead to weakness, listlessness, increased drinking and urination, and loss of appetite.

Never Leave Food Open and Unattended

Pets are notorious for getting into the darndest things. Animals are curious and sometimes the most interesting thing they find is something from your counter, floor, or garbage. Make sure that any food items left out on a countertop or in the open are inaccessible to your animal. Keep lids firmly secured, put away tempting foods like fruit, nuts, and sweets. Here are the top foods that cause the most pet deaths:

  • Coffee, Chocolate, Caffeine
  • Xylitol
  • Onions, Chives, Garlic, and Leaks
  • Grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants
  • Alcohol

Secure All Dangerous Chemicals, Medicines, and Products

When shopping for products for your pet, be sure to purchase only those products approved or prescribed for your pet.

Although some of the same medications we use can be effective in treating animals, the doses for animals are different and must be precise to the pet’s species, age, weight, etc. When the dosage is wrong or used on an animal without a prescription, it can be fatal for the pet. The same is true for pest control products such as flea and tick prevention products. Never use such products intended for one animal on another animal without checking with us first. When you must use a tick or flea control product on your pet, choose one specifically formulated for your pet and follow the instructions carefully.

Always secure all household chemicals and other hazardous materials out of the reach of pets!

Indoor Plants Can Be Pet Poisons

It is nice to decorate your home indoors with houseplants and flowers. There are many you can choose from that are safe for pets. However, you must check if a plant is safe for your pet before bringing it into your home or keep plants poisonous to pets safely out of their reach. In addition to the plants named above, here are some common poisonous indoor plants:

  • Poinsettias
  • Aloe Vera
  • Corn Plant
  • Jade Plant
  • Caladium or “Elephant Ear”
  • Dieffenbachia or “Dumb Cane”
  • Asparagus Fern

Avoid Pet Poisons When Gardening

Before adding any plants to your yard or garden, check if they are toxic to pets. If you already have toxic plants, you can either barricade your pet from them or remove them altogether. It is vital to keep your pet safe from toxic and life-threatening plants. Here are some common garden plants that are toxic to pes:

  • Sago Palm
  • Castor bean or castor oil plant
  • Cyclamen
  • Dumbcane
  • Hemlock
  • English Ivy, both leaves and berries
  • Mistletoe
  • Oleander
  • Thorn apple or jimsonweed
  • Bulb plants such as tulips, daffodils, irises, lilies, hyacinths…

The SPCA has a more comprehensive list in their article: POISONOUS PLANTS.


Don’t overlook fertilizers! Most commercial fertilizers are toxic for pets. They contain varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (potash). These are indicated by the three numbers on the packaging for example, 30-10-10. They may also contain minerals that can be toxic in large concentrations.  Additionally, they may contain herbicides, pesticides and fungicides which increases the risk of poisoning. While small amounts of fertilizer ingested may only result in mild stomach upset, larger amounts ingested can result in severe poisoning. Large amounts of meal-based fertilizers ingested may also form a concretion in the stomach resulting in a bowel obstruction or severe and painful inflammation of the pancreas.

On the other hand, there are safe fertilizers you can use. One of the best is compost and if you make your own it’s free. For more information about toxic fertilizers and safe fertilizers visit gardeningknowhow.com.

Beware of Antifreeze

Unfortunately, pets tend to be attracted to the taste of antifreeze. It is fatal for pets if ingested and they are not treated immediately. So, watch for spills or leaks from your car and clean them up immediately. To clean up an antifreeze spill you can use kitty litter, sand, or baking soda. Use any one of these to cover the spill immediately! Let the substance sit on the spill for 1 to 3 hours. These absorbent materials pick up the antifreeze before it settles. After you clean up the absorbent material, scrub the area with laundry or dish detergent, then rinse everything away with water. Then dry the area with paper towels or a rag.   

Know the Signs of Pet Poisoning

As a pet owner, you want to keep yourself informed so you can tell as rapidly as possible if your furry friend needs medical attention. These are some of the common things to watch out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Irregular/stumbling gait
  • Lack of appetite or water intake
  • Seizures
  • Trouble breathing:  wheezing, shortness of breath, slowed breathing, and difficulty breathing. You may also see the gums turn blue in color.

This is not a full list, of symptoms, but if you observe any of these indicators or anything off about the way your pet is acting, you should act as quickly as possible because the faster you get help, the better the chances are that there will be no long-term adverse effects for your loved one. You can get more information about pet poisoning from the PetPoisonHelpline.com.

Final Words

Now that you know the common household pet poisons, you can organize your house and your yard or gardens to keep your pets safe. It will be well worth your peace of mind and the safety of your furry loved ones. If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment, please contact us.

Your Friendly Team
Animal Wellness & Rehabilitation Center