We’ve compiled this list of 8 common household products that you may or may not be surprised to know, can actually be toxic to your pets. Some are obvious, like anti-freeze, but did you know that liquorice is toxic? In fact liquorice can even be toxic to humans if eaten in large enough doses!
The majority of things on this list are dangerous not because of their toxicity, but because they taste good! Slug pellets, antifreeze, chocolate, they all taste sweet! This makes it much more likely that your pet will happily gobble the poison down without a second though.
Interestingly though, cats don’t have sweet receptors, which makes them much less likely to consume the sweet tasting toxic products such as antifreeze. The best advice in all cases of poisoning is to contact your vet, they will be able to help your pet remove the toxin from their system – time is of the essence, so make so you contact your vet as soon as you suspect that your pet has consumed one of these items.
Slug Pellets (Metaldehyde)
Slug pellets contain an organic compound called metaldehyde. Metaldehyde is used in a variety of pesticides, but mainly those used against snails and slugs.
Slug pellets are both vibrant and sweet tasting – making them a risk for accidental ingestion by your pet.
Anything from 50 to 500g of a typical 4% metaldehyde pesticide can be fatal in dogs, if the ingested amount is smaller vomiting, diarrhoea, increased heart rate/body temperature, salivation, unconsciousness and liver damage may occur.
Anti-freeze (Ethylene glycol)
We’ve touched on the dangerous of anti-freeze before, which can be something to watch out for over the winter. Traditional anti-freezes are sweet tasting so another tasty poison to watch out for!
Ethylene glycol poisoning will affect your dog in stages; initially they will experience vomiting and diarrhoea as the body tries to remove the poison – they may also suffer some coordination problems. After around 12 hours as the body begins to break down ethylene, the heart, muscles and lungs will be affected. Finally, after 24 hours the kidney will begin to suffer and if large amounts of ethylene were consumed the kidney can fail.
If you suspect your dog has been poisoned by ethylene glycol, it is imperative to get them to the vets quickly – they can administer drugs that will stop ethylene being broken down into more dangerous components in the body.
When humans are given medicines, they are typically prescribed for a single person. A GP or pharmacist will work out the correct dose for that person to take. Incorrect doses of this medicine can be toxic to humans, let alone dogs.
There are hundreds of medicines that can be prescribed to us – all with different active ingredients, some safer than others. It is not known in all cases how these active ingredients will react in other species so it is important to see a vet immediately if you suspect your pet has consumed your medicine.
All medicines should be kept in cupboards, out of the reach of dogs (and children).
Tulip Bulbs (Tulipalin)
There are a number of plants that can be toxic to dogs; one in particular is the Tulip. Tulips contain a compound called tulipalin, which is found in the highest concentrations in the bulb – but it is also found throughout the grown plant.
A tulip bulb isn’t as appealing as the sweet tasting antifreeze for example, but some dogs may still attempt to eat them!
Tulipalin isn’t a life threatening poison, but if you suspect that your dog has consumed a tulip bulb, it is definitely worth visiting your vet. Vomiting and diarrhoea are likely to occur following ingestion.
Lilies are toxic to cats, the exact reason why is not yet know. For some reason, some cats adore chewing on plants – if your cat is one of them, I wouldn’t recommend having lilies around the home.
If you notice that that your lily plant has been gnawed at, contact your veterinarian specifying how much you think your cat may have consumed – they will likely ask you to bring in your cat to ensure they are closely monitored over the next few days.
See our 13 popular but toxic plants for cats article for more poisonous plants.
Despite the fact that most dog owners are aware of the fact that chocolate can be poisonous to dogs, some still give the occasional choccy treat!
Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical produced by the cocoa plant that is normally broken down quickly in humans. In dogs however, theobromine is broken down much more slowly making it easier for dogs to develop theobromine poisoning.
As little as 50-400g of chocolate is enough to cause theobromine poisoning, which can cause digestive upset, dehydration, seizures and in the most severe cases, death.
The occasional consumption of chocolate is unlikely to do any major harm, but if your dog were to eat a whole box of chocolates (Christmas anyone?) it might be worth consulting your vet.
If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, you can use our chocolate toxicity calculator for advice on what to do.
Grapes & Raisins (Unknown)
There has always been some debate over whether or not grapes and raisins are actually toxic to dogs. But it has now been confirmed that they are indeed toxic – the reason why however is still unknown.
A toxic dose of grapes for a 20kg dog is around 640g, so the occasional grape shouldn’t be a cause for concern, but if a whole bunch were to go missing – that might be the time to contact a vet. Because raisins are dried, the toxic component is more concentrated – the same 20kg dog might experience toxicity after consuming around 60g of raisins.
Grape/raisin poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and kidney failure. If you get to your vet soon after ingestion, they may be able to induce vomiting to stop the grapes/raisins being broken down, otherwise they can help to prevent the toxins being absorbed by the body.
Natural liquorice derived from liquorice root contains glycyrrhizin. It is this compound which makes liquorice sweet. Surprisingly, even humans can overdose on liquorice!
The excess consumption of liquorice can cause liver damage, raise blood pressure and cause muscle weakness.
Again, this is one where an occasional, small amount of consumption is probably not going to be a concern, but if your pet has consumed a whole bag of liquorice it might be worth contacting your vet.
Xylitol has become an increasing problem over the last few years. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that is harmless to humans but is toxic to dogs. As xylitol has gained popularity as a food additive, the number of cases of xylitol poisoning in dogs has increased.
Xylitol is commonly found in sweets, mints, chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash and can now be found in peanut butter too! Read more about xylitol and dogs.
Do you have any other everyday items that you think should be on this list? Have you ever had to visit the vets with suspected poisoning? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!