Poison Prevention Awareness – Keeping our Pets Safe

Poison Prevention Awareness Month takes place every March to help us realize the importance of an often-ignored subject. The initiative seeks to raise awareness of poison prevention nationwide every year.  

The first poison control center was developed in 1953 by Edward Press M.D. and Louis Gdalman. It provided people with the opportunity to call in for medical advice relating to toxic substances.  

We have come a long way since then. The significance of this month not only marks the safety of humans against poisons but also the safety of our pets. It is imperative that we look out for animals and learn the poisoning symptoms that may occur in them. 

As a pet parent, no one knows your pets better than you. Thus, you are the best person to ensure that your furry family member stays healthy, safe and happy. The best course of action you can take to ensure your pet’s well-being is by being educated on this topic. This article will help you do just that.  

What are the Most Common Household Toxins for Pets?

There are many common household items and products that can be toxic to pets. All pet owners should be aware of them to make sure that they are out of the reach of their pet’s paws.  

It is also important to note here that pet poisoning can happen even to the best of pet parents. You turn your back on your pet for one moment and the next thing you know, they have ingested something potentially harmful or fatal.  

In the lists below, we will thoroughly cover common foods, medicines, plants and other household items that can pose a danger to your furry friend’s life.   

Top 10 Most Common Pet Poisons

From plants to foods to household cleaners, anything can be potentially toxic to your pet. Based on data from the Pet Poison Helpline, the below-mentioned foods are the top 10 most common types of pet poisons that get reported through calls and other methods.  

Please keep in mind that some of the items included in this list are very toxic while others are relatively less poisonous or minimally toxic. However, you should always get in touch with your vet or any pet poison resource to ensure that there won’t be an issue.  

In any case, take extra care of your pets around the following products, keeping them out of reach at all times. 

Dog Poisons

  1. Chocolate  
  2. Mouse and rat poisons (rodenticides)
  3. Xylitol (a sweetener found in certain products, such as sugar-free gum, sugar-free candy, mouthwash, toothpaste, and cough syrup)
  4. Antidepressant medications
  5. Anti-inflammatory medications
  6. Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol
  7. Fertilizers
  8. Stimulant medications, such as medications for ADHD or ADD
  9. Vitamin D overdose
  10. Raisins and grapes 


Cat Poisons

  1. Vitamin D overdose
  2. Garlic and onions
  3. Stimulant medications, such as medications for ADD and ADHD
  4. Rodenticides or mouse and rate poisons
  5. Anti-inflammatory medicines
  6. Essential oils
  7. Household cleaners
  8. Flea or tick medication for dogs
  9. Lilies
  10. Antidepressant medications  


Foods that you consider tasty treats might be extremely dangerous for your pets, such as chocolates. As tempting as it might be for you to share those treats with your lovely four-legged friends, always resist.  

  • Caffeine  
  • Energy drinks 
  • Chocolate 
  • Alcohol, including food products that contain alcohol  
  • Tea  
  • Salt 
  • Macadamia nuts  
  • Onions 
  • Garlic 
  • Yeast products, such as raw bread dough 
  • Grapes and raisins 
  • Fatty foods  
  • Marijuana 
  • Avocado (mildly toxic to cats and dogs, but can be extremely toxic to the point of being deadly, to rabbits, horses, birds, goats, sheep and cattle) 

Food items, such as avocado pits, bones, and corn cobs should also be kept from your pets. These food items have the possibility of causing gastrointestinal obstruction by getting stuck in your pet’s esophagus, intestines or stomach.  

Fruit pits in nectarines, cherries, plums and peaches should also be kept away.  

In general, keep your pets at a fair distance from the garbage can, too, as that can contain edible and non-edible items that can prove to be toxic.  

Cleaning Products

Each time you clean your house, make sure that the cleaned area is dry to the touch before you allow your pet back on it. Also remember that just because a cleaning product says “all-natural” on the label, that does not translate to it being completely safe for pets.  

Different scents and fumes can also be irritating and problematic for pets – especially dogs and cats as they have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. This includes essential oil diffusers, which can cause breathing problems in pets, depending on the oil’s concentration.  

Always remember to read the back of products. If a product says “keep away from pets and children”, follow those instructions. You should also keep products containing bleach out of the reach of your pets at all times. Store all your cleaning products in a cabinet that is secure and cannot be opened by your pets.  


Medications form the top 2 most common pet toxins, according to APCC. Our pets are inquisitive little creatures and they love to explore. Many medicines that we keep in our bags or backpacks, thinking they are a safe place for them, can often be found by our pets.  

Common medications include Ibuprofen, flu and cold medicines, and vitamins. 

To ensure your pets don’t get their paws on these medications, keep them in childproof place in a closed cabinet. If you have any medication in your purse or bag, keep a watchful eye on your pet.   

Plants and Flowers

Plants and flowers may add life and color to your living room and garden but they can be potentially hazardous for your little pet companions if you are not careful. There are some plants that can cause a bit of gastrointestinal upset but are not truly toxic. However, there are some, such as lilies, that can be severely toxic to animals.  

With that said, here is a list of the toxic plants and flowers:  

  • Aloe vera 
  • Chrysanthemum 
  • Yew Bush 
  • Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Plant 
  • Schefflera 
  • Rosary Pea 
  • Stinging Nettle 
  • Sago Palm 
  • Rhododendron and Azalea 
  • Peace Lily 
  • Oleander 
  • Mountain Laurel 
  • Mother-in-Law Tongue 
  • Poinsettia 
  • Narcissus, Paperwhite, Daffodil, and Jonquil 
  • Lily of the Valley 
  • Philodendron 
  • Hydrangea 
  • Kalanchoe 
  • Hibiscus 
  • Golden Pothos 
  • Gloriosa Lily 
  • Foxglove 
  • Hyacinth and Tulip  
  • Daylily and True Lily 
  • Amaryllis 
  • Almond, cherry, peach, apricot, and plum trees 
  • Corn plant 
  • Daphne  
  • Cyclamen 
  • Caster Bean 
  • Fungi   
  • Rhubarb leaves  

In this list, certain types of lilies (the ones from Hemerocallis and Lilium species) are highly toxic to cats. They can often result in kidney failure, even if very small amounts are ingested. 

Additionally, Lily of the Valley, oleander, yew, kalanchoe, and foxglove might lead to heart issues.  

Sago palms from the Cycas species can lead to pretty severe intestinal problems, liver damage, and seizures. This is especially worrisome if the nut portion of the plant is ingested. 

Fungi, such as mushrooms, can cause liver damage and some other illnesses. Plants like Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia species) and gloriosa lily can be potentially harmful as well.  

Furthermore, castor beans can cause severe intestinal issues in animals. They can also cause extreme seizures, coma, and even death.  

Ensure to check a plant’s toxicity to your pet before you bring it home. If you are unsure whether your plant is dangerous or not, take a picture of it and seek help in online Facebook groups or apps. It is best to stay on the safe side and not bring the plants home if you are not sure about your pets’ safety around those plants.   


Before using any type of pesticide, read the instruction label. Products designed for a specific animal, such as flea/tick products for dogs, should never be used on another species. This can cause life-threatening issues in animals. 

If your pet ingests rat poison, life-threatening diseases can occur. In fact, some newer rodenticides don’t have any known antidote. Therefore, ensure safe storage of these harmful chemicals away from your pets.   

Health Hazards in the Garage and Yard

Possible hazardous items in your garage and yard include: 

  • Antifreeze 
  • Herbicides 
  • Insecticides 
  • Antifreeze with Ethylene glycol and coolants even in small quantities  
  • Plant/lawn fertilizers 
  • Weed killers 
  • Gasoline 
  • Ice-melting products 
  • Chemical treatments applied to the lawn 
  • Paints and solvents 
  • Mineral spirits  

Health Hazards in the Living Room and Bedroom

General household products, such as potpourri, contain ingredients that can cause stomach ulcers and other issues in pets.  

Mothballs are also a highly toxic item for both dogs and cats. Just one mothball can cause a pet to fall seriously ill, especially if it’s one with naphthalene.  

Issues like blood cell damage, swelling of brain tissues, seizures, respiratory tract damage, digestive tract irritation, liver and kidney damage and death can happen as a result of mothballs.  

Tobacco products and alkaline batteries should also be kept away from pets. 

How do You Spot Signs of Poisoning in Your Pets?

Learning the signs and symptoms of poisoning in your pet is crucial to managing an emergency and preparing in advance. The symptoms of poisoning would, of course, vary tremendously based on the type of product ingested and the amount of it that’s consumed. In addition, it would also depend on the type of animal that has ingested the product.  

Commonly, though, here are some signs that you have to be wary of. Remember that the list given below is not exhaustive but is of great importance, nonetheless. 

  • Diarrhea and upset stomach 
  • Vomiting 
  • Gastrointestinal signs 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Black or bloody stool 
  • Excessive thirst and urination 
  • Abnormal behavior 
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Seizures 
  • Excessive drooling (foamy) or hyper salivating 
  • Loss of appetite 

Kidney Failure

  • Lack or loss of appetite 
  • Halitosis (bad smelling breath) 
  • Diarrhea and upset stomach 
  • Excessive thirst and urination 
  • Decreased or absence of urination  
  • Vomiting  

Internal Bleeding

  • Vomiting blood  
  • Pale gums 
  • A continuously racing heart  
  • Lethargy or weakness  
  • Collapse 
  • Coughing of blood  

Liver Failure

  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting  
  • Black stool 
  • Abnormal behavior 
  • Jaundice or yellow discoloration to the gums 
  • Weakness and lethargy 
  • Collapse (a result of low blood sugar) 

Level of Toxicity

The toxicity of potentially dangerous items mentioned in this article can vary. Some items may only be mildly toxic while others can cause severe illness and even lead to death.  

In addition to that, the degree of toxicity often depends on a few factors, including: 

  • The type of animal in question that ate them – whether that’s a dog, cat, or any other species of animal; 
  • How much of the food the animal ingested; and, 
  • If a plant was eaten, what part of it was ingested. For example, was it the bulb or the flower, or the leaf? 

Whatever the case may be, if you think your pet has consumed something that may be dangerous to their health, it is always advisable to act quickly. You shouldn’t panic, but you shouldn’t delay getting help either.  

Reach out to your vet or a pet poison control center right away. Keep the contact numbers mentioned in the next section handy by saving them on your phone. This way, if you ever need help, no time will be wasted in getting help.  

Important Resources

1.ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA-APCC)1.888.426.4435.  

The ASPCA-APCC has a board-certified staff of veterinary toxicologists and specialist technicians that are well-equipped to deal with cases of pet poisoning and provide a valuable service. They charge a nominal fee while still providing expert care and guidance. The ASPC-APCC staff is available 24/7, all days of the year. They also have a smartphone app along with an extensive online database of toxic plants and flowers to animals, complete with pictures and descriptions of the problems they can cause.  

2. Pet Poison Helpline (PPH)1.800.213.6680. 

The PPH staff consists of expert vets and veterinary technicians with special training in animal poisoning. They also have board-certified toxicologists, emergency and critical care specialists, and internal medicine specialists. Their services are available 24/7, all days of the year at a nominal service fee. PPH has an iOS app in addition to a website. 

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the best practice when dealing with pet poisoning is prevention. Take a good look around your house and identify any potential health hazards that may exist. Take steps to pet-proof your house, such as storing your medication and cleaning supplies in a closed cabinet rather than leaving them on a shelf out in the open.  

Have an open and honest conversation with your vet and ask for their recommendations and treatment plans to keep your pets safe. 

A big part of keeping your pets safe is to help ensure that they are well looked after even when you are not there for them physically. Contact Rover’s Recess to get the best in pet care services that are personalized to you and your pet’s needs. Armed with their extensive knowledge, our CPR and Pet First Aid certified staff will make sure your mind remains at peace while we treat your pet like our very own! 



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