Common Pet Poisons Hiding In Your Home | PetFirst
Common household items that can harm pets
Pet Care & Health

Common Pet Poisons Hiding In Your Home

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
2 years ago

We all want the best for our pets.  Even the savviest pet-owners may be unaware of pet poisons lurking in plain sight.  

The ASPCA Poison Control Center received 199,000 reports of possible pet poisoning cases in 2017.  This number was a ten percent increase from the number of cases in 2016.  The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) listed the 10 most common pet toxins based on the reports it received.

Many pet owners know that chocolate, mouse and rat poison are toxic if ingested by pets.

With March being Poison Prevention Awareness Month, we thought it fitting to point out some less known household items that could turn dangerous if they ended up in our furry friends’ paws.

Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets, otherwise known as fabric softener sheets, are placed in the dryer to eliminate static cling and minimize wrinkles in clothing.  They do this by depositing chemicals on our clothing.

These chemicals could be toxic if a pet were to chew on or eat a dryer sheet.  Even a used dryer sheet contains enough chemicals to be harmful if ingested.

Sugar-free gum or sugar-free candy

Sugar-free gum and sugar-free candy or breath mints contain a sweetener called Xylitol.

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol and is currently widely used as a sugar substitute. It is not dangerous to humans because it does not stimulate the pancreas to release insulin in a human.  

However, according to Dr. Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, Associate Director of Veterinary Services at the Pet Poison Helpline, when a dog eats something containing xylitol, it causes the rapid release of insulin.  

This release of insulin leads to a rapid drop in blood sugar levels, otherwise known as hypoglycemia.  If untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to death.

Pet owners should read labels carefully since numerous products now contain xylitol.  Some of these are:

  • Puddings
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Vitamins
  • Cough syrups
  • Baked goods
  • Laxatives
  • Prescription medications
  • Allergy medications
  • Children’s chewable vitamins
  • Sleep aids (disintegrating tablets)


Curious dogs tend to chew on whatever they can find.  Unfortunately, if this curiosity leads to the remote control or a child’s toy, your dog may end up chewing on or puncturing a battery.

Once punctured, the compounds from the battery can cause severe injuries to your dog’s mouth, tissues, and digestive tract.

Human medication

Prescription and over-the-counter medications have been the two most common causes of pet poisoning cases.

Prescription medication

According to a Consumer Reports article, the drugs most frequently seen in pet poisoning cases are those most commonly prescribed for humans:

  • Antidepressants
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) medications
  • Heart medications

Over-the-counter medication

Other common causes of poisoning include over-the-counter pain medications including:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

Apple seeds

While apple slices are a healthy snack for dogs, make sure to remove the core and all apple seeds.

Apple seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide which, over time, can build up in a dog’s system and become toxic.

Grapes and raisins

Even a small number of grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.


While onions and onion powder add a dash of flavor to many human recipes, make sure none of these table scraps end up in your dog’s dish.

In dogs, onions lead to a breakdown in red blood cells, ultimately causing anemia.

Tea and coffee

Tea and coffee, like chocolate, are toxic to pets because they contain caffeine.

Lily Plants

Lily plants can cause kidney failure in cats.


Signs of pet poisoning

Signs of poisoning differ depending on the toxin and the amount ingested.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination

If you think your pet may have ingested something poisonous, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

At PetFirst, we are here to help keep your pet healthy.  If an accident or illness does occur, you can make sure that your pet is covered with PetFirst Pet Insurance. Get a quote today!

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