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Common Household Items that Can Harm Your Pet

Updated on October 10, 2016
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Sadie Holloway is an all-around animal lover and most definitely a cat person. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her cat and husband.

Keep your pets happy, healthy, and safe. Find out what dangerous household items are hiding in plain sight around your home.

If you're a pet owner, you're responsible for another life. It's your job to keep your pets out of harm's way and that means securely putting away dangerous household items that can poison and/or seriously injure your animal companions.

Your pet can't control her environment, so it's up to you to pet-proof your home. Don't end up with a broken heart. Protect your cats and dogs today!

Regular check-ups at the veterinarian is vital to your pet's overall health and well-being.
Regular check-ups at the veterinarian is vital to your pet's overall health and well-being.
My cat was well supervised when I took this photo. You should never leave your pets unattended near open flames, fireplaces, or candles.
My cat was well supervised when I took this photo. You should never leave your pets unattended near open flames, fireplaces, or candles.

If you want to pet-proof your home, start with this checklist of safety tips for pet guardians:

  • Keep household plants that are toxic to pets out of your home (i.e.; lilies).
  • Store medicines, chemicals and cleaning products in secure cupboards and drawers or on shelves out of reach to cats and dog.
  • Secure and tie up electrical cords to keep them away from playful claws and curious jaws.
  • Remove heavy items that can be pulled off tables and land on your pet
  • Properly store human foods, such as dark chocolate, that are toxic to animals in secure, sealed containers.
  • Secure balconies and windows to protect curious cats and kittens from dangerous falls.
  • Keep pesticides, anti-freeze and other chemicals safely out of reach.
  • Keep small, sharp objects such as tacks and paperclips in secure jars or containers.
  • Protect pets from the cold weather of fall and winter
  • Clear kitchen counters of food items to avoid temptation
  • Never leave pets unattended near candles and open flames.
  • Keep garbage cans and kitchen waste bins out of reach of your pets. Food scraps, empty tin cans and chicken bones are tempting to animals looking for a snack. But the sharp edges of tin cans and broken chicken bones can be very harmful to your pet's mouth, snout, and digestive system.

This is a pretty big list of things you should do to make your home pet-friendly. But did you know that there are many more household dangers that can cause your pet to become seriously ill, or worse, die?

Lillies are toxic to cats and dogs.
Lillies are toxic to cats and dogs.

Here are some essential items to put in a first-aid kit for your pet:

  • Gauze pads and rolls
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Rubber gloves
  • Shock blanket
  • Muzzle
  • Emergency phone numbers: Poison control; 24-hour emergency pet clinic; your veterinarian; local animal shelter and wildlife control agencies in the event that you find a lost and injured animal


The dryer sheets you use to make your laundry soft, fresh, and fluffy can be toxic to pets. Always dispose of used dryer sheets carefully and store laundry supplies out of the reach of pets and children.
The dryer sheets you use to make your laundry soft, fresh, and fluffy can be toxic to pets. Always dispose of used dryer sheets carefully and store laundry supplies out of the reach of pets and children.

Beware, and be aware! Here are some surprising household items that should always be kept away from your four-legged companions.

  • Certain types of flea control. Spot-on flea control applied to your dog's skin can harm your cat. These types of flea control products are often sold without a vet’s prescription at pet supply stores. These products contain an insecticide called perethrin, which can cause some cats to have seizures. Never use these products on your cats. Cats can be inadvertently exposed to perethrin if they groom, sleep or play with dogs who have been treated with this type if flea control product.
  • Flower bulbs. Lily, daffodil and tulip bulbs contain natural chemicals that are toxic to pets. Dogs may pick up the bulbs in their mouths and playfully chew on them. Some curious dogs could dig up freshly planted bulbs, especially if the bulbs were planted with fish and bone meal fertilizers. Signs that your pet has come into contact with toxic bulbs include seizures, vomiting and diarrhea. Sadly, ingesting the bulbs can also lead to the death of your pet.
  • Oil-based room fresheners. Liquid potpourris and oil diffusers contain essential oils that can harm your cat or dog if ingested. Ingestion can cause loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting and muscle tremors. Keep these ingredients away from your pets to avoid accidental ingestion. Clean up spills and leaks immediately. Cats can be exposed to the chemical residues when they groom themselves.
  • Dryer sheets. Dryer sheets contain corrosive chemicals called cationic detergents. Cationic detergents can cause skin, eye and gastrointestinal irritation. Dryer sheets, especially unused dryer sheets, are particularly harmful to cats who are very sensitive to cationic detergents. Symptoms of exposure include skin rashes, eye ulcers, appetite loss, drooling and burns to the throat and mouth. Cats love to lie on freshly folded laundry so make sure used dryer sheets (which often stick to clean clothes) are removed and safely discarded.
  • Artificially sweetened gum. Sugar-free gum is made with an artificial sweetener called xylitol which is toxic for dogs. Your dog can become very sick from swallowing sugar-free gum because xylitol absorbs quickly in dogs causing hypoglycemia and acute liver failure. Signs of poisoning from sugar-free gum include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of muscle coordination, collapse and seizures.

Act fast! Your pet's life is in your hands! If you suspect that your pet has come into contact with any of these or other poisonous products, call your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic right away. Acting quickly is critical to your pet’s health and safety.

Article references: The BC SPCA

If your dog or cat is injured or becomes gravely ill, getting prompt veterinary care is vital to your pet's chances for survival.
If your dog or cat is injured or becomes gravely ill, getting prompt veterinary care is vital to your pet's chances for survival.

© 2014 Sadie Holloway

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  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

    Glad to read that about the dryer sheets cause I use it as an anti-mosquito rub on my arms and legs and I have two new kittens so I will be sure I don't hold them or have them rubbing on my legs before I wash it off. Thanks!

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    It's important to publicize these tips for protecting pets. Thanks for sharing them.

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