Pet Poisons From A to Z — 26 Common Items That Are Dangerous to Cats and Dogs

Windshield wiper fluid
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  • Unbaked bread dough can expand in the stomach. If the stomach twists, cutting off the blood supply, emergency surgery is needed. The yeast in the dough can also produce alcohol, leading to seizures and respiratory failure. Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe.
  • Veterinary prescriptions, such as arthritis medications, are often meat-flavored, which can be enticing to dogs. Ingestion of large quantities can result in stomach ulcers, liver failure or kidney failure. Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.
  • Windshield wiper fluid can contain methanol or ethylene glycol. Ingestion of methanol can cause low blood sugar and drunken walking in dogs and cats. Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate.
  • Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener commonly found in chewing gum, breath mints and toothpaste. In dogs, it can lead to dangerous drops in blood sugar and liver failure. Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe.
  • Yard products, including snail and slug bait, herbicides and fertilizers, are never good for pets. Signs will vary by the ingredient. Toxicity Ranking: varies.
  • Zinc toxicity can happen when dogs and cats eat metal or coins. Ingestion of even a single zinc penny can be fatal. Zinc can cause anemia, as well as liver, kidney or heart failure. Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.

How to Safeguard Your Pet

So how can you prevent your pet from an accidental poisoning? Start by visiting the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center website to learn about other potential poisons, how to poison-proof your home and what to do if you suspect that your pet may have been poisoned.


It’s also a good idea to post the organization’s phone number — 888-426-4435 — on your refrigerator for easy reference in the event of an emergency. The call center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“To poison-proof your home, don’t keep medications where pets can get at them,” Dr. Wismer says. “Keep cleaning products behind doors, and take your medication in another room, behind a locked door.”


While dogs can be notorious for refusing to take their own medications, Dr. Wismer adds, “we sometimes say that the surest way to pill a dog is to drop one on the floor.”

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