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?

You might be surprised to hear that a lot of common household items can be poisonous to dogs, could even kill a dog. While you might expect some of these items, like antifreeze, detergents, or even rat poison, other items are difficult to anticipate as being dangerous. 

For example, did you know that grapes and onions are toxic for dogs? Or that some snacks can contain artificial sweeteners that can poison or kill a dog? So, 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 commonplace items may surprise you. So let's dig in to see what household items can be harmful to dogs. 

1. Soaps and Detergents

Cleaners, soaps, and detergents can contain chemicals that are dangerous to dogs. These common household items are not only dangerous if ingested, but sometimes even if they come in contact with your dog's skin

Irritating chemicals can cause a range of symptoms, from skin and eye agitation, to breathing difficulties, to severe life-threatening illnessIngesting even a small dose of these products can cause irritation to your pup's digestive system and lead to vomiting and diarrhea, which can be life-threatening.  

2. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners such as xylitol and sorbitol can be toxic if ingested by dogs. These sweeteners are typically found in sugar-free products like chewing gum, candy, and breath mintsWhen consumed, they can cause a rapid release of insulin in dogs, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and life-threatening symptoms like vomiting, seizures, or coma

3. Some Houseplants

Many common houseplants can be toxic to dogs. Plants such as lilies, sago palms, philodendrons, poinsettias ("Christmas flowers"), and dieffenbachia ("dumb canes") 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 comprehensive list of plants, you can consult the ASPCA list of poisonous plantsIt is important to research the plants in your home to keep any toxic ones out of reach of your dogs

4. Medications, Vitamins, and Supplements

Human medications, vitamins, and supplements can be toxic to dogs even if consumed in small amountsCommon over-the-counter meds such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and eye drops can be toxic to dogs, causing gastrointestinal upset, difficulty breathing, and loss of coordination

Vitamins 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 given

It's important for you to store all medicine, vitamins, and supplements out of reach of your dogs, and to only give your dogs medications they've been prescribed by a veterinarianIf you provide the wrong dose of a 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 seizures. Dark chocolate is especially dangerous and can kill a dog. 

The amount of chocolate that is toxic to a dog depends on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate ingestedDark chocolate includes the highest levels of theobromine (which is why it's most dangerous), while milk chocolate and white chocolate can be less dangerous. Some chocolates contain macadamia nuts, which are additionally dangerous for dogs. 

Keep chocolate at a distance from your pup in safe containers to avoid accidental ingestion. 

Dog lying down next to chocolate bars

6. Slug Bait

Slug bait is commonly used to kill slugs and snails. These products contain toxic pellets that attract these animals and kill them. When ingested by dogs, slug bait can cause diarrhea, difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, and behavioral changes (like anxiety), and can kill a dog. 

The exact symptoms vary depending on the type of bait that is ingestedIn severe cases, slug bait ingestion can lead to hyperthermia, liver failure, kidney damage, or even death.

7. Mosquito Repellent

Mosquito repellent often contains chemicals such as DEET or permethrin, which can be toxic to dogs. If a dog consumes mosquito repellent, he or she can experience vomiting or diarrhea. So it's important to keep mosquito repellent out of reach of your dogs and to use it cautiously when applying it to your own skin around dogs.

8. 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.

9. 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, difficulty breathing, or changes in your dog's behaviorIn severe cases, rat poison can lead to irrevocable organ damage or kill a dog

It 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.

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 poisonous to dogs. 

Sometimes antifreeze can leak accidentally from your car and may be licked by your dog. 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 membranes

In severe cases, antifreeze poisoning can lead to renal failure, seizures, coma; if left untreated, it can be fatal

11. Some 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 in dough. If these items are ingested by dogs, they can cause a range of severe symptoms

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 proactively 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. 

Good places where you can safeguard toxic items are locked closets, cabinets, or pantries. You can also place items on high shelves where your dog can't reach them.  

It's important that toxic products are labeled so that you can easily identify them. This helps prevent accidental exposure of your pup to toxic items. Additionally, it's 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 helps make sure that your dog is not accidentally exposed.

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 mos

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


What household items can kill a dog instantly?

Some of the most dangerous household items for dogs are dark chocolate, xylitol, antifreeze, rat and mouse poison, and grapes or raisins. These items are especially dangerous for dogs and can may cause organ failure in even small quantities.

What should I do if my dog eats something toxic?

If your dog ingests a toxic item, immediately contact your veterinarian or a pet poison control hotline. Do not try to induce vomiting unless instructed by a professional. If possible, bring the packaging of the ingested substance to the vet. You can call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1 (888) 426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1 (800) 213-6680.

Are household plants dangerous for dogs? 

Many household plants like lilies, sago palms, philodendrons, poinsettias, and dieffenbachia can be toxic to dogs. 

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which dogs’ bodies can’t process quickly. These compounds overstimulate the nervous system and the heart and so can cause seizure and toxicity. Dark chocolate is especially dangerous because it has more theobromine and caffeine.

Are puppies more susceptible to certain dangers than adult dogs?

Yes, puppies are at greater risk due to their smaller size and curiosity. Common food hazards like chocolate and grapes pose a higher risk to puppies because of their less developed immune systems. Small objects and toys can also be more of a choking hazard for them. 

What human foods can dogs eat safely?

There are plenty of human foods that dogs can eat safely, including: lean beef, chicken, and turkey, carrots and apples, and plain cooked grains like rice and oatmeal.


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