Make your home a safer place for your pets by keeping them away from the following hazardous household items, plants, foods, objects, and trouble areas.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, which would include far more than just 101 hazards, but is intended to start you thinking about all the different things a pet (or a small child, for that matter) could ingest that would or could be harmful or fatal – basically, if you wouldn’t let your toddler have it, don’t let your pet have it!
If you think your pet has been exposed to a poisonous substance, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center can help. Call 1-888-426-4435 (any time, 24/7), and consult with your veterinarian for follow-up care. It may save your pet’s life. For more poison prevention information, visit www.aspca.org.
|NSAI medications (ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.)||Acetaminophen (deadly to dogs)||Cold and flu medications|
|Anti-Cancer drugs||Flea and tick products|
|Home insect products||Mothballs||Slug and snail bait|
|Rat and mouse bait||Fly bait|
|Bleach||Disinfectants||Fabric softener (dryer sheets)|
|Detergents||Drain cleaners||Oven cleaner sprays|
|Lime/scale remover||Liquid potpourri|
|Balls (small or those with a smooth outer coating)||Bread twist ties||Batteries|
|Buttons||Coins||Cotton swabs (Q-tips)|
|Glass||Hair pins, hair ties||Jewelry|
|Nylons*||Paper clips, pushpins||Plastic wrap, plastic bags|
|Socks*||Rubber bands||Sharp objects (knives, razors, scissors, etc.)|
|String, yarn, dental floss, Christmas tree tinsel*||Towels, blankets* (can fray dangerously||Wax (candles, crayons, etc.)|
|Tobacco products||Lead||Lighter fluid|
|Solvents (paint thinners, etc.)|
* We’ve seen animals who swallowed small pieces of string or thread, which tangled in the intestines and strangulated the intestine, killing the animal. Be careful with towels or woven blankets as bedding, for that same reason. Watch the rope chew-toys you give your dogs, too! When they start looking frayed, throw them away! It’s not worth your dog’s life. And please, don’t leave your dog unattended for hours on end, day after day, in a pen with wood, sticks, or small crushed rock in it – but it doesn’t even have to be that long – they can pick up such things even on a walk! Dogs get curious or bored and start mouthing or chewing all sorts of things.
|Avocado||Chocolate (all forms!)||Coffee (all forms!)|
|Onions, onion powder||Garlic||Grapes|
|Raisins||Macadamia Nuts||Alcoholic Beverages|
|Moldy/spoiled food||Salt||Fatty foods|
|Sugar-free gum, candies, or other food sweetened with xylitol (deadly)||Tea leaves||Raw yeast dough|
- Balconies and stairs – Tall balconies without safety railings, or railings spaced too far apart, can lead to a dangerous or fatal fall.
- Bathtubs or sinks – Small pets can drown in full bathtubs or sinks.
- Doors and windows – Dogs and cats can run away if they find an open door or window. They can also get seriously injured if they run across a busy road. Windows should have screens to prevent cats or other pets from falling out.
- Electrical cords – Your pets can be electrocuted if they bite or chew on electrical cords that are plugged in.
- Fireplace – Your pets can be burned by the flames or get sick if they eat the ashes.
- Toilets – Toilet water is not healthy for pets to drink; always remember to close the lid. Make sure you leave plenty of clean, fresh water for your pets if you must leave them home alone. [Toilets are also a potential drowning hazard for small animals that jump up and fall in headfirst, then can’t turn around to get out.]
- Washer and dryer – Your pets can crawl into a washer or dryer without your knowledge; close the doors to these appliances when you’re not using them.
- Trash cans – Pets love to get into the trash, where they can find all sorts of nasty and dangerous discards! Keep such things only in covered cans your pet cannot get into, and keep small trash cans emptied frequently, and placed where the pet can’t reach them.
Outside the Home
- Algae* – can be found in ponds or other bodies of water; certain forms can be toxic.
- Antifreeze/Coolant* – some types of antifreeze or coolant products contain ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic to dogs and cats, even in small amounts.
- Fire pit/Grill – flames can result in serious burns and ashes can cause illness if ingested. Empty grease trap regularly as ingesting large amounts of grease and fat can be deadly to pets.
- Fences or gates – your pets can run away if they find openings in damaged fences or gates, or if they dig under one – check your fences frequently. They can also get hurt or strangled if they get stuck. [We have seen a small dog sandwiched in a tight space between two chain-link fences; the dogs on either side saw it as “trapped prey,” and attacked it from both sides through the fences! Make sure to close such gaps so nothing can get into them.]
- Deck lattice – your dogs or cats can get stuck in the openings under your deck and possibly be strangled. [You can staple or nail “hardware cloth” or 1″ chicken-wire mesh to the back side of the lattice so the pet cannot get its head through.]
- De-icing salts – some formulations may contain chemicals that are hazardous to pets if ingested in large amounts (including licking the substance from their feet and fur). Look for “pet-friendly” de-icing salts.
- Compost (particularly if moldy)
- Pesticides* – including herbicides applied to your lawn
- Cocoa bean shell mulch/fertilizer*
- Swimming pools and hot tubs – NEVER leave your pet unattended near uncovered pools, even if they can swim – they can’t always climb out, and can’t swim forever. Also, many contain chemicals which can sicken or kill animals if swallowed, or cause skin problems.
* All contain chemicals that may cause serious illness or death, depending on the circumstances of exposure.
This list contains common names, many of which have been applied to several unrelated plants – not the Latin species name for each plant. The same plant may be called by different names in different areas, or by different people, and many different plants are called by the same name, causing great confusion. The best rule of thumb is to keep pets and plants away from each other, or to spray the plants with bitter-apple spray or cayenne spray to make them less appealing to chewing pets – including dogs, cats and rodents.
Remember, bored pets left to themselves can be terribly inventive in finding ways to reach things!
|Pothos Amaryllis||Dumbcane||Morning Glory|
|Andromeda Japonica||Easter Lily||Mother-in-law’s Tongue|
|Asian Lily||Elephant ears (Caladium)||Mountain Laurel|
|Asparagus Fern||Emerald Fern||Narcissus|
|Astralian Nut||English Ivy||Needlepoint Ivy|
|Belladonna||Fiddle-lead Philodendron||Oleander (deadly)|
|Bird of Paradise||Goldu Dust Dracaena||Panda Plant (Kalanchoe species)|
|Bittersweet (American, European)||Florida Beauty||Peace Lily (Anthurium)|
|Black Locust [seeds, pods] (deadly)||Foxglove||Philodendron|
|Glacier Ivy||Poison Hemlock||Branching Ivy (rosary pea- deadly)|
|Gladiolus||Precatory Bean||Buckeye, Horse Chestnuts|
|Golden Pothos||Privet||Buddhist Pine|
|Heavenly Bamboo||Red Emerald||Caladium|
|Hurricane/Rain lily||Ribbon Plant||Castor Bean (deadly)|
|Iris||Schefflera (Umbrella Tree)||Cordatum (Heart-Leaf Philodendron)|
|Jimson Weed (deadly)||Sweetheart Ivy||Corn Plant|
|Lantana||Water Hemlock (deadly)||Cyclamen|
|Lilies (all Lilium species)||Wisteria||Daffodil|
|Lily of the Valley||Yew||Daylily|
|Lupine||Yucca||Devil’s Ivy (all Pothos)|
Help your pets enjoy the holidays safely by keeping them away from potential problems on these special days.
Alcoholic beverages are toxic to pets and should NEVER be given to them during the holidays or any other time.
Flowers and candy – Many types of flowers and plants found in bouquets are harmful to dogs and cats if they are ingested (see the above list of hazardous plants). Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, and seizures, and, in severe cases, chocolate poisoning can be fatal.
The darker and purer the chocolate, the greater the danger – unsweetened dark chocolate and baking cocoa are the worst.
Fake grass – This colorful “grass” may look appetizing to your pets, but it could cause them to choke, or obstruct and possibly strangulate their intestines if ingested.
Small toys and other plastic items – If swallowed, small toys and plastic Easter eggs can cause your pet to choke or even damage their intestinal tracts.
4th of July
Fireworks – Fireworks can scare your pets, making them run off, or cause serious injuries if detonated near them. Many formulations are also toxic if ingested.
And remember, their hearing is MUCH more acute than ours is, so loud noises can also damage their eardrums, leading to deafness. Animals severely traumatized by loud noise at an early age will typically be terrified of all loud noise for the rest of their lives, so it is best NOT to expose them to such an experience.
Repeatedly opening doors to greet trick-or-treaters can increase the chances of your pets running out. Keep an eye on their whereabouts at all times. If feasible, keep cats in a secure area or closed room when opening doors.
Candles – Pets are naturally curious, and may be attracted to the bright lights of the flame in dark areas. Dogs and cats could either burn themselves by the flame or knock the candle over, starting a fire.
Xylitol – Candy or gum and even baked goods sweetened with xylitol (typically sold as “sugarfree”) are toxic even in very small quantities and should be kept away from your pets. Xylitol is now being used in many “diabetic” products – read the label and DO NOT share it with your pet!
All forms of chocolate can be harmful to your pet, potentially resulting in poisoning or even pancreatic inflammation from the high fat content.
Bones – Turkey, chicken and other small animal bones are very different from the large bones you find at the pet store. These small bones splinter easily and can cause serious internal damage if swallowed, so NEVER give them to your pet.
Hot containers – Your dog or cat will most likely become curious when they smell something cooking. Keep an eye on hot containers so that your pet does not tip them over and get burned.
Holiday plants – Christmas rose, holly, lilies, poinsettias and mistletoe are all toxic to dogs and cats.
Ribbons – It may look adorable, but placing a ribbon around your pet’s neck may cause them to choke.
Bubbling lights – Older forms of this attractive decoration may contain methylene chloride, which is a highly toxic chemical.
Fire salts – Contain chemicals that could be harmful to pets.
Angel hair (spun glass) – Can be irritating to eyes and skin, and could cause intestinal obstruction if eaten in large amounts.
Christmas tree water – Stagnant tree water or water containing preservatives could result in stomach upset if ingested.
Decoration hooks – Can cause blockage and/or trauma to gastrointestinal tract if swallowed.
Styrofoam – Can cause your pets to choke if swallowed.
Tinsel – Can cause choking or internal trauma if swallowed.
Balloons and confetti – These fun New Year’s party decorations can cause your pets to choke or obstruct their intestines if ingested. Keep an eye on your pets when they’re around these items, or move them to an area that is not decorated.
Loud noises – New Year’s is typically a noisy holiday. Unfortunately, loud noises frighten pets and can cause them to run off. Keep your pets in a separate room, away from noisemakers, music, and other loud sounds that may startle them.