Keeping Your Pets Safe At Home: A List Of Household Items That Are Dangerous To Dogs And Cats

By Courtney Wilkinson (Los Angeles, CA)

Everyone knows not to feed your dog chocolate or not to light a candle where your cat’s tail could swish over the flame, but there are many foods and household items that can be lethal to your pets. 

Here are some of the most dangerous things commonly found around the house that could seriously harm your cats and dogs:

Dangerous Foods for Dogs

  • Sugar Substitutes: A lot of diet foods, and even gum and toothpaste, are sweetened with Xylitol which is highly toxic to dogs and can cause liver failure. Xylitol is also common in generic peanut butter, so check the label as natural and organic peanut butter is a great treat for your pups, but peanut butter that is artificially sweetened can be very harmful.
  • Avocados and Macadamia Nuts: Avocados contain persin, a toxin that can cause serious health issues in dogs. Macadamia nuts are also known to be toxic to dogs, so be very careful as just six nuts can hospitalize a dog.
  • Children’s Toys: Toys that aren’t specifically made for dogs are often made of materials that can be highly dangerous if ingested.
  • Coins: Make sure to pick up any spare change you may have dropped since ingesting them can cause serious intestinal blockages.
  • Fruits with Pits or Seeds: A slice of a plum, peach or apple won’t hurt a dog, but if your dog gets a hold of a whole fruit and ingests the pit it can cause a blockage in their small intestines. Apple seeds are highly toxic so avoid letting your dog eat the seeds or core of an apple.

  • Dangerous Foods for Cats

  • Lilies: These flowers are among the most poisonous plants for your cats. Even inhaling the pollen can cause kidney failure and the consequences can be much worse if your cat eats the flower. Not all flowers are toxic to cats, but the list of which ones are is very long (including Amaryllis, Tulips, Daffodils, Poinsettias, and Eucalyptus) so before you pick up a bouquet double check that the flowers aren’t among those that will harm your cat.
  • String: Although cats love to play with string, you should avoid leaving it around once you’re done playing as ingesting string can be highly dangerous.
  • Milk: Contrary to popular belief, milk is not good for cats. In fact, cats are largely lactose-intolerant. Dairy products should be avoided as cats lack the enzyme to digest this properly, causing diarrhea, vomiting, and upset stomach.
  • Tuna: Even if your cat’s favorite flavor of cat food is tuna, you should avoid giving them tinned fish meant for humans as it doesn’t contain the other key nutrients that cats need and eating too much can lead to mercury poisoning.
  • Over the counter drugs: Cats are particularly sensitive to Aspirin, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen. While they are not recommended for dogs either, even a small dose of any of these medications in cats can be fatal. It should go without saying that prescription drugs should be kept far away from both cats and dogs as they can cause serious damage to both animals. 

    Dangerous for Both

  • Onions and Garlic: Both are highly toxic to cats and dogs in their raw or cooked form and you should avoid giving any leftovers that were cooked with either to your pets.
  • Chocolate: Everyone knows not to give chocolate to dogs, but it can be equally lethal to cats.
  • Caffeine and Alcohol: This may seem like a no-brainer, but even a sip of coffee or beer could mean a trip to the vet for your dog or cat.
  • Grapes and Raisins: Grapes can be just as harmful as chocolate to dogs, and are equally dangerous for cats as they can cause acute kidney injury or even failure that could lead to death.
  • Raw Meat, Fish or Eggs: Any of these raw foods can contain bacteria that are seriously harmful to both cats and dogs.
  • Salt and Sugar: Foods high in salt can cause dehydration or sodium poisoning and too much sugar can not only cause hyperactivity but over the long term can cause obesity and diabetes.
  • Jade Plant: This common houseplant (also known as a rubber plant) is very toxic to cats and dogs and can cause vomiting, gastric problems, as well as heartbeat irregularities.
  • Fat Trimmings and Bones: No matter how much they beg, these leftovers are not good for your pets and cooked bones should never be given to them as they can splinter and cause serious internal damage.
  • Electrical Cords: Puppies and kittens can be quite mischievous and love to chew so best to keep your cords safely tucked away to avoid the risk of electrical shock. Signs that your pet may have been shocked include: burns around the mouth, seizures, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, and collapsing to name a few.
  • Dog Food for Cats and Cat Food for Dogs: In a pinch, or if eaten by accident, dogs and cats eating each others’ food isn’t a world-ender. However, both animals need very different types of nutrients to stay healthy and feeding either animal any food that isn’t specifically designed for them can cause health problems in the long-term.
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