Dogs are very curious animals and as omnivores and natural scavengers, can get into and eat just about anything. However, there are many toxic substances found in your home that could potentially kill your dog. The following is a list of ten common household substances that you should make sure to keep out of your dog’s reach.
1) Antifreeze: Many people do not realize it, but common antifreeze kills many pets each year. It smells and tastes very sweet to your dog and is very appealing to him. Ethylene glycol is toxic however, and each winter, many animals are killed by it. Symptoms of toxicity include seizures, vomiting, stumbling and lethargy leading to kidney failure. Make sure to keep your antifreeze out of your dog’s reach. If you suspect that your dog has ingested antifreeze, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.
2) Chocolate: Chocolate contains a substance called the obromine which is toxic to dogs. Baking chocolate and dark chocolate is especially dangerous. While it usually takes a somewhat large amount of chocolate to kill a dog, poisoning and death does occur with smaller amounts ingested. Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination, and increased activity. This can progress to seizures and unusual heart rhythms. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate.
3) Bleach: As you might imagine, household bleach is toxic to dogs. Keep all products containing bleach out of your dog’s reach. Symptoms of bleach poisoning include drooling, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Do NOT induce vomiting if you suspect your dog has ingested bleach and contact your veterinarian immediately.
4) Tylenol: As little as two regular strength Tylenol tablets can kill a small dog. Dogs lack the proper liver enzymes to break down acetaminophen. Signs of toxicity include drooling, lethargy, and abdominal pain. If you suspect your dog has ingested Tylenol, call your veterinarian immediately.
5) Watch Batteries: If your dog ingests a watch battery, it can cause a potentially fatal ulceration in the stomach within 12 hours. All other alkaline batteries are toxic to dogs as well. Symptoms of toxicity include drooling, lack of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. If you suspect your dog has ingested a watch battery, contact your vet immediately.
6) Moth Balls: Moth balls are very dangerous to dogs. They contain an insecticide that causes central nervous system excitement and seizures. When metabolized, ingestion of moth balls can lead to liver failure. Symptoms of poisoning by moth balls include vomiting and seizures. If your dog has consumed moth balls, do NOT induce vomiting. Seek veterinary care immediately.
7) Fabric Softeners and other detergents: All sorts of household detergents are toxic to dogs at one level or another, but fabric softeners fall into the highly toxic category. Signs of toxicity include vomiting, lethargy, burns to the mouth, drooling, muscle weakness, and even coma. Do NOT induce vomiting if your dog has ingested any detergent. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
8) Mouthwash: Mouthwash can contain boric acid which is highly toxic to dogs. Symptoms of poisoning by mouthwash include vomiting, drooling, seizures, and coma. You should take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if you suspect poisoning by mouthwash or other household item containing boric acid like contact lens solution or denture cleaner.
9) Peach Pits: With most fruits, the pits and the seeds are toxic to dogs. Signs of poisoning include drooling, vomiting, and lethargy. If you suspect your dog has eaten a peach pit or the pit or seeds of any fruit, take him to the veterinarian immediately.
10) Household Plants: Many common and popular household plants are highly toxic to dogs. A partial list of toxic plants includes poinsettias, lilies, ferns, devil’s ivy, aloe, and ivy. Symptoms of poisoning due to ingestion of toxic plants include vomiting and central nervous system excitement. Many of these plants are fatal if ingested. Please contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten a toxic houseplant.
With diligence on our part, we can help prevent our dogs from getting into substances that are toxic to them. Many veterinary school websites offer lists of things that are toxic to dogs and what you should do if your dog ingests such things. As always, if you think your dog may have eaten something dangerous, contact your veterinarian immediately or take your dog to the closest emergency clinic.