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. Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Avocado is primarily a problem for birds, rabbits, donkeys, horses, and ruminants including sheep and goats. The biggest concern is for cardiovascular damage and death in birds. Horses, donkeys and ruminants frequently get swollen, edematous head and neck.
Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine:
These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.
The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, are not likely to present problems beyond minor stomach upset.
Coconut and Coconut Oil:
When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, we encourage you to use caution when offering your pets these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.
Grapes and Raisins:
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to dogs.
Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
Milk and Dairy:
Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.
Onions, Garlic, Chives:
These vegetables and herbs 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. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies.
Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones:
Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.
Salt and Salty Snack Foods:
Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. As such, we encourage you to avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.
Xylitol is 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. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can 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 to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life threatening emergency. The yeast produce ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk (See alcohol).
Pet parents are often curious about the risks associated with cleaning their pets’ cages and toys with bleach. Cleaning your pet’s cage or toy with a properly diluted bleach solution, followed by a thorough rinsing and airing out, is not expected to cause harm. If the odor of bleach seems overwhelming, open windows and use fans to air the room.
There are many cleaning products on the market, with a variety of different ingredients for cleaners, with varying degrees of safety. Always follow label directions for usage. After cleaning, please dispose of unused or dirty solutions, and clean and put away cleaning implements like mops. If you have questions about the appropriate selection or application of a product, please contact your veterinarian or the manufacturer before cleaning.
Proper use of carpet deodorizing products should not cause significant harm or injury to pets. Should your pet accidentally come in contact with the freshly applied powder, we recommend washing the paws with mild soap and water to avoid minor skin irritation.
Minor ingestion of carpet freshener powder generally results in a mild stomach upset. If a small amount is inhaled, minor respiratory irritation may occur, resulting in sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose. Because of this, it is a good idea to continue to keep your dog out of the room until after you have vacuumed up the powder.
Most carpet cleaning products can be used in pet households. Allow the carpet to dry before allowing pets into the area. This will help to prevent the risk of skin irritation or gastrointestinal upset.
Cats are especially sensitive to essential oils, and effects such as gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression and even liver damage could occur if ingested in significant quantities. Inhalation of the oils could lead to aspiration pneumonia. There are significant variations in toxicity among specific oils. Based on this, we would not recommend using essential oils in areas where your pets have access, unless pets are supervised or the use of the oil is approved by your veterinarian.
Fabric Softener Sheets:
Fabric softeners contain cationic detergents. These detergents have the potential to cause significant signs like drooling, vomiting, oral and esophageal ulcers and fever. These clinical signs do require treatment by a veterinarian. Oral ulcers can develop if a pet chews on a new, unused dryer sheet. Used sheets have minimal amounts of detergent. If an animal ingests enough sheets, used or dry, an intestinal blockage may occur.
Contrary to rumors alleging that Febreze causes serious illness or death in pets, ASPCA veterinary toxicology experts regard Febreze fabric freshener products to be safe for use in households with pets. As with any product, it is important that you always follow label instructions for use. However, should your pet accidentally come into contact with Febreze when it is still wet, we would not anticipate problems beyond mild skin irritation (which can occur with any product in animals with sensitive skin) or minor stomach upset, if it is ingested.
Gout sealers vary widely in toxicity, from non-toxic to alkaline corrosive. Alkaline products, like cationic detergents, can cause drooling, vomiting, oral and esophageal ulcers. Confirm the ingredients in the brand you are using, and call your veterinarian if your pet ingests some of the sealer. Dried, or cured, sealer generally only causes a mild upset stomach if ingested.
Swiffer Wet Jet:
Swiffer Wet Jet products do not contain cleaning agents in large enough quantities to present serious health risks to pets. An internet rumor once alleged that these products contained anti-freeze and were responsible for the death of a dog. ASPCA toxicology experts evaluated the product and determined it doesn't contain ethylene glycol from antifreeze, and is appropriate to use in homes with pets. Like any product, however, it's important to read and follow label instructions to avoid unnecessary exposure. As with any number of cleaning products, mild skin irritation or stomach upset may occur if pets walk through a still-wet floor or lick any spilled solution.
Toilet Cleaning Tablets:
Most toilet bowl cleaning tablets would not be expected to cause problems beyond minor stomach upset, should a dog take a drink of the diluted water in the toilet bowl. Bacterial-related gastrointestinal problems could occur from drinking stagnant toilet water, however, so it is still a good idea to discourage your dog from imbibing from the commode.
Vinegar and Water:
A solution of vinegar and water is used as an inexpensive alternative to commercial cleaning agents. Vinegar is typically acidic, and vinegar (depending on the solution concentration) acts as an irritant. Ingesting concentrated, or undiluted, vinegar can cause vomiting, diarrhea, oral irritation and pain.
Most cleaning agents can be used safely in homes, as long as label recommendations are followed.
Indoor and outdoor plants can represent real threats. The majority of cases reported each year invlove cats and indoor plants. Be sure to understand the toxicity of plants before putting them in or around your house.
The following plants are toxic to both cats and dogs (unless otherwise noted) along with clinical signs of poisoning:
• Aloe Vera: Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.
• Asian Lily: Vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, kidney failure, and death is possible. Cats are only species known to be affected (toxic to cats only).
• Asparagus Fern: allergic dermatitis with repeated dermal exposure. Berry ingestion could result in gastric upset (vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.)
• Begonia: Oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing. Tubers are the most toxic.
• Baby's Breath: Vomiting, diarrhea
• Calla Lily: Oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.
• Corn Plant: Vomiting (occasionally with blood), depression, anorexia, hypersalivation, dilated pupils (cats).
• Cycads (Sago Palm, Fern Palm): Vomiting (may be bloody), dark stools, jaundice, increased thirst, bloody diarrhea, bruising, liver failure, death. 1-2 seeds can be fatal.
• Daffodil: Vomiting, salvation, diarrhea; large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors and cardiac arrhythmias. Bulbs are the most poisonous part.
• Geranium: Vomiting, anorexia, depression, dermatitis.
• Jade Plant: Vomiting, depression, ataxia, slow heart rate (rare.)
• Pencil Cactus: Irritating to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting, but generally over-rated in toxicity.
• Ribbon Plant (Corn Plant, Cornstalk Plant, Dracaena, Dragon Tree): Vomiting (occasionally with blood), depression, anorexia, hypersalivation, dilated pupils (cats).
• Tulip: Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, hypersalivation. Highest concentration of toxin in bulb.
For a comprehensive listing of toxic indoor and outdoor
plants visit the ASPCA’s website at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants.