Pet Poison Prevention Week: Toxic Items For Cats and Dogs

Pet Poison Prevention Week is approaching, running from March 20th - 26th. This week focuses on educating pet parents on some of the common things poisonous to pets. Pet poison prevention week ties into National Poison Prevention Week and the many dangers that spring brings with it. So we want to take this opportunity to remind everyone about some of these hazards. The ASPCA lists many plantshousehold items, and foods that can be lethal to pets. Those include chocolate, grapes, mushrooms, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other over-the-counter drugs. We've rounded up some of the culprits that can be potentially toxic to pets and shared them and the signs of their toxicities below. Familiarize yourself with these items in order to prevent a heartbreaking situation for your dog or cat.



There are a plethora of plants that can be harmful to pets; some are well known to many pet owners, and others may not be so obvious.


Aloe Vera

This plant has seen a rise in popularity but may not be the best to keep around curious pets. Aloe Vera plants contain anthraquinone glycosides, which are purgatives (medications that encourage bowel movements). When ingested, these glycosides are metabolized by intestinal bacteria, forming compounds that increase mucus production and water in the colon.

Some signs of an anthraquinone overdose include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea


chrysanthemums toxic to pets


Chrysanthemums - also known as Mums - contain a few different toxic elements. Mums are a widely used plant, so make sure you keep them out of reach of your pets or keep them in certain areas of your yard that your pets can't access.

If your cat or dog eats chrysanthemums, you can expect some:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypersalivation
  • Incoordination
  • Dermatitis



Daffodils are a widespread Easter plant - along with lilies - and can be just as toxic to both cats and dogs.

Daffodils can cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Salivation
  • Diarrhea
  • Large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmias


Also, be mindful that the bulbs are the most poisonous part of the daffodil plant.

hydrangeas toxic to pets


Hydrangeas are a common yard plant that helps to brighten up any landscaping, but did you know that they can cause nasty illnesses in your pets?

Although hydrangea toxins typically cause more of a gastrointestinal disturbance, they can also cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea due to cyanide intoxication (rare)


Lilies are Deadly to Cats


Lilies are very toxic to cats and can cause fatal acute kidney failure (compared to dogs where you typically only see a slight stomach irritation). It is critical that if you suspect your cat has eaten any part of a lily, bring them to the vet or emergency hospital immediately. Don't wait to see if your cat displays any abnormal symptoms! Kidney damage can more often than not be reversed if the cat is treated within 18 hours of exposure.

Tulips are poisonous to cats and dogs


Tulips are a common sign spring has sprung, but it's probably best for pet owners to keep them where dogs and cats can't reach them or out of your house or garden altogether.

Tulips contain toxins that can cause:

  • Intense gastrointestinal irritation
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression of the central nervous system
  • Convulsions
  • Cardiac abnormalities


household cleaners toxic to pets

Household Cleaners


While properly cleaning with a diluted bleach solution is a great way to keep your pet's cage and other items clean, make sure you fully air out and dry any products you use it on. Just as with people, straight bleach can irritate the skin, and if ingested, it can cause heavy drooling (especially in cats), redness, and irritation on the skin and around the mouth. While household bleach is more of an irritant than a corrosive agent, the symptoms can be worrisome for most pet owners. In cases of ultra-concentrated bleach, it will cause chemical burns and lesions both internally and externally. If your pet has gotten into any amount of ultra-concentrated bleach, treat this as an emergency and contact your local vet, e-vet, or animal hospital for instructions.


Essential Oils

Contrary to what some people think, essential oils can cause many issues, especially in cats. (Essential oil diffusers release the oils into the air, which can come to rest on the cat. The cat then cleans himself, ingesting the essential oils.)

If ingested, essential oils can cause:

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Central nervous system depression
  • Liver damage if ingested in significant quantities
  • If inhaled, they can cause respiratory issues and aspiration pneumonia


Human Pharmaceuticals


Unlike humans, aspirin should not be given over the counter to pets to help ease any pain. While it can help pets, the risk of an overdose is very high and can lead to liver failure. We strongly recommend consulting with your vet if you believe your pet to be in pain.



Human NASID pain relievers (e.g., ibuprofen, alleve, and others) are not metabolized the same way in pets as they are in us. Because of the difference in metabolism and elimination, even small amounts can cause significant medical problems in dogs, including gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney failure. If your pet needs an NSAID pain reliever, your veterinarian can prescribe a pet-specific one (e.g., Rimadyl, Galliprant, or Onsior).



These products contain salicylates, which are similar to aspirin. Depending on the circumstances of exposure, large enough doses of bismuth salicylate could cause effects similar to aspirin poisoning.

Symptoms of this bismuth salicylate poisoning include:

  • Gastric irritation or ulceration
  • Bleeding problems
  • Seizures
  • Liver damage



Pseudoephedrine can be found in many over-the-counter decongestants.

Clinical signs of pseudoephedrine poisoning include:

  • Nervousness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Other behavioral changes
  • Panting
  • Fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure


Pet Poisoning FAQs

What items are toxic to dogs?

  • Chocolate, Grapes, other foods
  • Xylitol
  • Ethylene glycol: A chemical commonly found in antifreeze—pets have been known to drink antifreeze due to its sweet taste
  • Rat bait
  • Prescription & over-the-counter human medications that are dropped including Tylenol, ibuprofen & several others


What items are toxic to cats?

  • Ethylene glycol: A chemical commonly found in antifreeze—pets have been known to drink antifreeze due to its sweet taste
  • Rat bait
  • Lillies
  • Prescription & over-the-counter human medications that are dropped including Tylenol, ibuprofen & several others


Is chocolate as deadly for dogs as we are led to believe?

Yes! Dark chocolate and baker's chocolate both contain high levels of caffeine and theobromine. Theobromine is a chemical we humans can digest quickly, whereas dogs cannot. The slower digestion period allows the chemical to build up and reach toxic levels faster.

In fact, chocolate is just as dangerous for cats, but - because most cats don't have a "sweet tooth" - they're less likely to get into it.


How do I know if my pet has gotten into something poisonous?

If your pet has gotten into something potentially poisonous, you may see:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures


go to vet for emergency pet poisonings

What do I do if I suspect my pet has ingested something poisonous?

Bring your pet into a veterinary hospital immediately and/or call poison control for immediate advice. For many toxins, you shouldn't wait for your pet to display symptoms of toxicity to bring them to the vet. The sooner treatments can start, the more likely everyone gets a happy outcome.


Is there anything I can do for my pet at home before taking them to the emergency vet?

Call poison control. Bring a sample of the toxin ingested for veterinary evaluation.


Is marijuana toxic to pets?

Yes! If pets eat the actual buds of the marijuana plant, it can result in:

  • Lethargy
  • Breathing problems
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rates
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of bladder control


The ASPCA Animal Poison Control (APCC) is one of the best resources for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, along with Pet Poison Help Line. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call 888-426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.

As your pet's doctor, we do not judge you or how your pet got into a toxin! We are more concerned about your pet's safety and well-being. If you believe your pets managed to get into any drug or toxin on this list, please contact us and let us know so we can better treat your pet.


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