Avoid Letting Your Pet Eat These Common Household Foods, Plants, and Chemicals

Emergency Situations

Every year, my colleagues and I help treat dozens of pets who are inadvertently exposed to poisonous substances. The best way to keep your pets safe is to prevent them from getting access to dangerous drugs, plants and food.

If you believe your pet has been exposed to something dangerous, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661, the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435, or EMRVC at 410-687-1111.

Foods and Household Medicines That Cats and Dogs Should Avoid

The most common toxicities that we see are:

  • Chocolate which causes vomiting, excitability, and can cause seizures at high doses
  • Grapes or raisins, which can cause kidney failure
  • Foods (such as certain peanut butters) that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs and causes severe hypoglycemia.

In addition to these foods, I recommend avoiding very fatty foods which can cause pancreatitis and vomiting or diarrhea.

Keep Your Pets Away From the Medicine Cabinet

While there are some medications that are used for both humans and dogs, most human medications are poisonous to dogs and cats. Never give your pet any medications unless you have been advised by a veterinarian that it is safe. This includes prescription and over the counter drugs.

For instance, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and most NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications), like aspirin, can cause serious harm to dogs and cats. Do not give these medications to your pet even if they seem to be in pain. If your pet is in pain, call your veterinarian. There are many medications which are relatively safe which can be prescribed or recommended by a veterinarian to help control pain in cats and dogs.

Medicinal Marijuna May be Legal, But It’s Not Safe For Pets

Recently we have also seen pets that have gotten medical marijuana products which are dangerous for dogs. There have been 2 dogs that have died from overdosing on concentrated marijuana products in the past.

Protecting Your Pet From Household Poisons

Most owners know to keep their pets away from insecticide and rodenticide products (rat-poison, ant-bait stations or other granules, sprays and topical flea and tick medications). But, we still see them occasionally and they cause major problems. Sometimes owners accidentally leave rat poison where their dog can get into it. This causes uncontrollable bleeding which can lead to death.

Another common mistake is using a dog flea and tick product on a cat. The dose is too high, and causes uncontrollable tremors and can lead to death if not treated. Never apply any flea and tick medicine that is not labeled for your pets specific species and weight range.

Plants Can be Poisonous, Too

House plants are sometimes consumed by animals and often cause GI upset or irritation to the mouth and face. Some plants, such as Easter Lilies are very poisonous, especially to cats and will cause kidney failure. If you aren’t sure if your cat or dog will try to eat a plant, I recommend avoiding bringing them into the house or yard. I also recommend that any household with cats avoid Easter Lilies altogether.

If you ever have any doubt about whether your pet may have been exposed to something they shouldn’t have do not hesitate to call a veterinarian.

– Dr. Shawn Budge, DVM

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center provides medical and surgical care for cats and dogs at our animal hospital and veterinary clinic in Essex, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Our services include preventive wellness care exams, vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care. Our state-of-the-art veterinary offices are conveniently located near I-695 where we see pets from Towson, Honeygo, White Marsh, and other neighboring Baltimore areas.

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