Common Household Substances Toxic to Our Companion Animals and What to Do About Them

Whew, that’s a long name, but exactly what this article is about. So why beat about the bush? Which brings me to, well, bushes. Plants to be exact. Did you know several of our most favorite indoor and outdoor plants are quite toxic to our furry friends?

But I’m jumping ahead of myself as plants are third on the list of the 10 most poisonous substances found around our homes.

Quick overview: This article will offer basic information on the ten categories of common household items which our companion animals respond to very poorly if ingested. Then I’ll offer some information on items to be found in a pet first aid kit and also what to do if your pet is accidentally poisoned.

The ten most poisonous substances categories:

Human Medications are by far the leading pet poison. This includes all medications – both over the counter (please read Tylenol and other analgesics, as well as allergy medications, etc. here) and your prescription medications. Our curious pet friends too easily scoop up any stray pill, cap or lozenge they find on the floor.

Insecticides are second on this list. Sadly, it is most often the misuse of products created and purchased for use on our pets that cause the most harm. Flea and tick products cannot be applied cross-species, as the ingredients differ. What works on a dog’s physiology is dangerous to cats, and visa versa.

Now, we’ve arrived at plants, which are number three and four.

Five most dangerous indoor plants:

1. Cyclamen (hits both indoor and outdoor list)

2. Amaryllis

3. Pothos

4. Dieffenbachia or Dumb Cane

5. Schfflera arboricola (umbrella plant)

Five most dangerous outdoor plants:

1. Lilies (hits both indoor and outdoor lists)

2. Tulip and Narcissus bulbs

3. Azalea and Rhododendron

4. Oleander

5. Chrysanthemum

Fifth on our list is veterinary medicines. It seems that anxious pet parents sometimes dispense improperly or misapply the prescribed medications, including nutritional supplements.

Rodenticides are the sixth most commonly ingested poison by pets. Because these poisons are meant to attract and poison other small furry creatures, it stands to reason rodenticides smell rather delectable. Use of rat and mice killer is one very important area to follow all directions explicitly.

Next are household cleansers. Such cleansers (bleach, laundry powders, disinfectants, detergents) usually live under counters, or on low shelves or cabinets. These low areas are easily reached by curious paws and noses. These substances not only burn when ingested but also burn when inhaled. So simply the act of sniffing them out, nosing around to see what’s there, can be dangerous to your pet.

We’re almost to the end of this list. Number eight is heavy metals. Mostly the dangerous metals are found in linoleum, consumer electronics and in older homes, the flakes or dust of lead paint.

Garden products – both fertilizer and weed killer – can cause gastric problems and sometimes gastric obstructions to our outdoor furry friends.

And lastly we come to common household chemicals. Antifreeze is the main culprit, here. Although pool and spa Chemicals, paint thinner and drain cleaners are all quite dangerous to our pets. All cause gastrointestinal upset and respiratory difficulties.

Now comes the good part – What To Do If Your Pet Is Poisoned.

First and foremost – Stay Calm. I know it’s hard to do, but panic blocks your ability to respond quickly and appropriately and increases your pet’s stress. So breathe slowly and move gently. Gather together a sample of what your pet ingested, if possible, including the container.

Then, if your pet’s symptoms are life threatening – you know the one’s I mean: seizures, difficulty breathing, etc. – immediately take your pet to your veterinarian, along with the sample of item ingested. Phone your vet while on the way. This helps the staff prepare for you.

Otherwise, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is your best bet for quality and timely information. They are available 24 -7, and charge a $65.00 consultation fee. Their number is: 1-888-426-4435.

To better serve you they will ask the following specifics: age, breed, species, sex and weight of the animal involved, symptoms displayed, and what was ingested, as well as other questions – depending on the situation.

A Pet First Aid Kit is helpful to have on hand to support your pet in times of physical need.

The most important items you’ll need in that first aid kit are the names, and phone numbers of both your veterinarian and the ASPCA Poison Control Center. Other items include hydrogen peroxide, saline eye solution, artificial tear gel to use following eye flush, mild grease-cutting dish washing liquid for bathing after skin contamination, forceps for stinger removal, muzzle to prevent nipping by an anxious pet, and a pet carrier.

If you found this article helpful please follow my blog, Animals Galore ( ), to learn other health, wellness and training tips for our companion animals.