The Daily Dog
Health & Insurance

What Household Items Can Kill a Dog?

By Mawoo Pets · 9 Dec · 8 mins read
What Household Items Can Kill a Dog?

Many common household items can be dangerous to dogs. While some of these items can be predicted to be dangerous, such as antifreeze, detergents, and rat poison, other items are difficult to anticipate as being dangerous. For instance -- did you know that grapes and onions are toxic for dogs? Or some snacks can contain artificial sweeteners that are very toxic to dogs. As such, it's important to always read the label on household products before using them around your pet or sharing them with your pup.  

If you are a new pet owner, some of these common items may surprise you. Below are some common household items that can be harmful to dogs. 

1. Cleaners, Soaps, and Detergents

Soaps and detergents can contain chemicals that are dangerous to dogs. These chemicals can be dangerous if ingested or sometimes even if they come in contact with your dog's skinThese chemicals can cause a range of symptoms, from irritation to your dog's skin and eyes, to breathing difficulties, to severe illnessIngestion of these products, even in small doses, can cause irritation to the mouth and digestive system, leading to vomiting and diarrhea, and in extreme cases, lead to death.  

2. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners such as xylitol and sorbitol can be dangerous if ingested by dogs. These sweeteners are commonly found in sugar-free products, such as chewing gums, candy, and breath mintsWhen ingested, they can cause a rapid release of insulin in dogs, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and potentially life-threatening symptoms. These symptoms can include vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, or in more extreme cases, coma

3. Some Houseplants

Many common houseplants can be toxic to dogs. Plants such as lilies, sago palms, philodendrons, poinsettias, and dieffenbachia can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing if ingestedOther plants, such as aloe vera and snake plants, can cause irritation or burning of the tongue, mouth, and lips if chewed by your dog. For a more comprehensive list of plants, you can consult the ASPCA list of poisonous plantsIt is important for pet owners to research the plants in their home and to keep any potentially toxic plants out of reach of their dogs

4. Medications, Vitamins, and Supplements

Human medications, vitamins, and supplements can be toxic to dogs, if digested even in small amountsCommon over the counter medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and eye drops can be toxic to dogs, causing gastrointestinal upset, difficulty breathing, and loss of coordinationVitamins such as Vitamin D can accumulate dangerously if given too frequently to dogs and lead to Vitamin D toxicityEven pet-specific medicine and supplements can be dangerous if the wrong dosage is givenIt is important for pet owners to store all medicine, vitamins, and supplements out of reach of their dogs, and to only give their dogs medications that have been prescribed by a veterinarianIf you provide the wrong dose of a prescription medication or over the counter medication, contact a veterinarian immediately for help.

5. Chocolate

Chocolate contains two compounds that are toxic to dogs: theobromine and caffeine. If ingested by dogs, chocolate can cause symptoms including vomiting, increased thirst, increased heart rate, tremors, and seizuresThe amount of chocolate that is toxic to a dog depends on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate ingestedDark chocolate is the most dangerous, as it includes the highest levels of theobromine, while milk chocolate and white chocolate are less so. Some chocolates contain macadamia nuts, which are additionally dangerous for dogs. It is important for pet owners to keep chocolate out of reach of their dogs to prevent accidental ingestion

Dog lying down next to chocolate bars

6. Rat Poison

Rat poison, also known as rat bait, mouse bait, or rodenticide, is a chemical that is used to kill rats and other rodents. These chemicals are very dangerous to dogs and can lead to liver damage or kidney failure. Depending on the type of rat poison consumed, this chemical can cause diarrhea, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, or changes in your dog's behaviorIn severe cases, rodent poison ingestion can lead not only to organ damage, but also seizures and deathIt is important for pet owners to keep rodent poison out of reach of their dogs and to use a bait station if rat poison is used.

7. Slug Bait

Slug bait is a product that is used to kill slugs and snails. These products contain pellets that attract thee animals and contain toxic chemicals that are deadly to them. When ingested by dogs, slug bait can cause diarrhea, difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, and behavioral changes (e.g., anxiety). The exact symptoms vary depending on the type of bait that is ingestedIn severe cases, slug bait ingestion can lead to seizures, hyperthermia, liver failure, kidney damage, or even death.

8. Mosquito Repellent

Mosquito repellent often contains chemicals such as DEET or permethrin, which can be toxic to dogsWhen ingested by dogs, mosquito repellent can cause symptoms such as vomiting or diarrheaIt is important for pet owners to keep mosquito repellent out of reach of their dogs and to use it cautiously when applying it to their own skin around dogs.

9. Nicotine

Nicotine is highly toxic to dogs and is found not only in cigarettes and tobacco, but also in some insecticides. Dogs can be exposed to nicotine from second hand smoke, chewing nicotine-containing items such as nicotine gum or lozenges, or from licking surfaces sprayed with insecticides. Symptoms of nicotine poisoning in dogs include vomiting, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and tremors. In severe cases, nicotine poisoning can lead to seizures, coma, or death.  

10. Antifreeze

Antifreeze is a liquid that is used to prevent car engines from freezing in cold weather. It is commonly made with ethylene glycol, which is a chemical that is toxic to dogs. Sometimes antifreeze can leak accidentally from your car and may be ingested by your dog. When ingested by dogs, antifreeze can cause a wide range of symptoms including loss of coordination, increased thirst, changes in urine color (typically dark urine), lethargy, or pale mucous membranesIn severe cases, antifreeze poisoning can lead to renal failure, seizures, coma, and if left untreated, can be fatal

11. Other Human Foods

There are many human foods that can be toxic to dogs. These include fruit such as grapes and raisins, and vegetables like onions and garlic. Some human beverages that are toxic do dogs include alcohol and caffeine-containing drinks such as tea and coffee. Many pet owners are used to giving table food to their pets. However, human foods can contain various dangerous ingredients such as spices, fatty foods, or yeast dough. If these items are ingested by dogs, they can cause a range of symptoms, the severity of which depends on the amount that is ingested. Pet owners should keep these foods out of reach of their dogs. If you are thinking of giving a any human foods to your dog, please check with your veterinarian first

How to Store Household Items Toxic to Dogs

You should keep toxic household items out of your pet's reach. You may have a lazy dog who loves sleeping and think "there's no danger of my pup touching these items". But dogs are naturally curious creatures and may explore boxes or containers where you have kept dangerous items. Places where you can safeguard items include locked closets, cabinets, or pantries. You can also place items on high shelves where they cannot be reached by your pet. 

It is important that toxic products are labeled so that they can be easily identified. This helps prevent accidental exposure of your pup to toxic items. Additionally, it is a good idea to share a list of such items with anyone who is caring for your dog -- such as pet sitters or family members. This way, you can ensure that your dog is not accidentally exposed to toxic items.

What to do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Eaten Something Poisonous

You must act quickly if you think that your dog has come in contact with something poisonous. The first step is to contact your veterinarian. He or she may direct you to a pet poison control hotline or ask you to bring in your pet for inspection. If you are not able to reach your vet, call a national pet poison control hotline such as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680

Your veterinarian or the pet poison helpline may provide you steps to induce vomiting in your dog. This can help remove the poison from your dog's systemIn some cases, your dog may need an urgent hospital visit to be administered medications. If this happens, bring along any packaging from the product that your dog ingested. Labels can provide information about the type of poison ingested and how your dog should be treated. 

Close up dog photo at veterinary clinic

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