Plants, Foods, and Household Products Poisonous to Dogs
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a staggering number of dogs are accidentally poisoned every year by plants, foods, and yard and household products. Beat the odds for your pet by educating yourself on these deadly products and eliminating the threat in advance.
Avoid Becoming a Statistic
When you've made the loving decision to buy or adopt a dog, keeping it safe is one of the most important aspects of that commitment. That's why you need to learn about plants, foods, and household products that are poisonous to dogs. In 2011 alone, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) reported receiving nearly 166,000 phone calls about pets exposed to various poisonous substances. By beginning here and consulting other resources cited, you'll get a great start to prevent your pet from becoming an ASPCA statistic.
Inventory, Eliminate & Store Safely
Use our lists to inventory potential poisons in your home, garage, and yard. Then promptly toss, replace, or securely store any dangerous products.
Poisonous Household Items
Automotive products. Keep all auto products in tightly sealed containers. If spills happen (particularly antifreeze) clean it up immediately. Most antifreezes contain an extremely toxic compound called ethylene glycol. Add another layer of safety by selecting antifreeze products that contain propylene glycol instead.
Compost heaps. Compost is great for your garden but extremely poisonous for your dog. Make sure your pet can't reach and ingest any of the heap's decomposing matter.
Fertilizers. Always read the labels carefully and follow the recommendations precisely. Some fertilizers are made from bonemeal, poultry manure, and other ingredients that tempt dogs.
Household cleaners. Store products where your dog can't reach them. In particular, stow away bath and toilet bowl cleaners, carpet cleaners, laundry detergents, and anything that contains bleach, ammonia, formaldehyde, and glycol ethers.
Insecticides. This group includes outdoor, indoor, and pet pest-control products. Read the labels carefully and follow all instructions.
Human medications. Keep all human medications -- including acetaminophen, antidepressants, cold medicines, ibuprofen, pain killers, and vitamins -- stored where your pets can't reach them. If you drop a pill or tablet, be sure to pick it up and throw it away so your four-legged helper doesn't ingest it.
Rodent and insect baits. Mice and rat bait contain poisonous rodenticides, which are grain-based and enticing to dogs. Slug and snail baits contain metaldehyde, and fly baits contain methomyl. Keep any and all of these deadly products well out of your dog's reach.
Veterinary medications. Always keep pet medications safely stored away from your dog's reach. What might be safe for your pet at the prescribed dosage could be dangerous if consumed in excess.
Poisonous Foods to Dogs
As tempting as it is to feed your dog dinner scraps, there are many foods you need to keep behind closed doors and away from the edge of your table or counter. In addition to the list below, avoid giving your dog any scraps that contain bones (especially turkey and chicken bones) which can break and splinter -- causing serious internal injury to your dog. Make sure your children understand why they shouldn't sneak tasty bites under the table to Fido.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Chocolate (all types and forms)
- Coffee (all types and forms)
- Fruit pits and seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Onions and onion powder
- Sugar-free foods
- Xylitol (sugar substitute)—if contained in food that has been consumed
- Yeast dough
Many indoor and outdoor plants are poisonous to dogs. A few of the more common ones are listed below. It's always a good idea to check with your veterinarian if you have questions about your plantings.
- Autumn crocus
- Castor bean
- Dieffenbachia (dumb cane)
- Elephant's ear
- English ivy
- Japanese yew
- Morning glory
- Peace lily
- Sago palm
Signs and Symptoms
Your dog's reactions to specific toxins can vary, but there are definite signs and symptoms to let you know something is wrong. Here are a few to note and discuss with your vet.
- Abdominal pain (demonstrated through whining, with your dog's stomach tender to the touch)
- Bright green stools (might indicate your dog has eaten pellets of rat poison; this can precede any overt symptoms of poisoning)
- Irregular heartbeat
- Labored breathing
- Lack of coordination
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle tremors
- Swollen limbs
If you suspect that your dog has eaten something toxic, call your vet or the ASPCA 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center's hotline at 888/426-4435. Be prepared to identify your dog's breed, age, sex, and weight; list what you think your pet has ingested and when; and describe any symptoms. Collect any vomit or chewed items in a sealable plastic bag for possible reference. There is a fee for using the ASPCA hotline, but it will most likely be a small price to pay in exchange for possibly saving your pet's life.
Also make sure you know where your community's closest emergency pet center is located. Keep the number posted so you can get information or make arrangements to admit your dog quickly.