6 Common Household Items that Are Toxic to Your Pets

There are several types of items that must be kept far away from your furry friends in order to prevent serious health complications and death. Here are the categories you should be aware of:

  • Food
  • Plants
  • Cleaning products
  • Medications
  • Skin care, hygiene, and cosmetic products
  • Home scents

Pet Safety Awareness

If you’re anything like me, you were taught as a child that animals can eat just about anything from the table. You may have also been taught that if an animal got into something they shouldn’t have, it was because they were unintelligent. Neither of these ideas hold true. We’re responsible for keeping our pets healthy and safe, and we shouldn’t simply shrug our shoulders if they come into harm’s way. 

When you adopt a new pet, you of course want to ensure their constant safety. There is a plethora of information out there, and it can be overwhelming to new pet parents! This resource is designed to guide you through what items you need to keep far away from your furry friend’s teeth. Some of the items below might surprise you!

I included items that affect cats and dogs specifically, but many of these are toxic to other domestic animals as well. Please visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) for a thorough list of species-specific toxins that may apply to your household. 

Foods that are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that their bodies are designed to digest muscle, bone, and the stomach contents of their prey. So, your cat is not meant to eat human foods. That being said, everyone makes their own choices and gray areas are unavoidable in some cases, so here are the foods that are an absolute danger to dogs and cats.

  • Grapes
  • Chocolate 
  • Citrus in large amounts
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Dairy 
  • Alcohol 
  • Coffee/caffeine 
  • Xylitol (a sugar that is used in processed human foods or found in vegetables and fruits) 
  • Dough with yeast in it 
  • Nuts in large amounts 

The ingestion of these foods can cause serious health issues, including but not limited to:  kidney failure, liver failure, painful gastrointestinal issues, heart problems, central nervous system problems, anemia, depression, or death. Please visit the ASPCA for more detailed, species-specific information, and keep these foods away from your pets to prevent a potentially life-threatening situation. 

Plants that are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I love plants…so much so that I have over 40 plants in my home. But I love my pets even more.

When I adopted my first cat, Minnie, I did lots of searching to find out which houseplants were safe for her to be around, which ones were mildly irritating, and which ones posed serious danger. There’s a lot of contradictory information out there, so here’s a list that I’ve compiled based on information from the ASPCA, Summer Rayne Oaks’s detailed videos on specific plant species, and confirmation from my pets’ veterinarian. The plants listed below are common houseplants you may already have in your home or would find in a garden center. 

  • Aloe (Aloe vera)
  • Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans)
  • Jade plant (Crassula argentea
  • Lilies (Lilium spp. and Hemerocallis spp.) – All parts of these plants are extremely toxic to cats. Cats CANNOT be in the same room as lilies without risking kidney failure which can result in the death of the animal.
  • Mother of Millions (Kalanchoe spp.)  
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Rubber tree (Ficus elastica)
  • Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata
  • ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Some of these plants are only mildly toxic to dogs and cats, meaning that biting the plant will cause mouth irritation and/or minor stomach upset. In my experience with over 20 different species of plants, many houseplants can cause minor oral irritation but enough to cause my pets to sink one tooth into the leaf and leave them alone for good. To be safe, however minor the toxicity level is, these plants should be kept away from your pets, especially if you have a cat or dog that loves to explore your plants. 

If you already have these plants in your home, please keep them out of your pet’s reach. This is easier said than done when it comes to cats, so there is more information coming in a future post! I have most of these plants (other than lilies, of course) in my home with my three pets, but after lots of experimenting, I’ve found a way to keep them well out of my fur babies’ reach. 


Give to our current fosters:

Give to our current fosters:

Give to our current fosters:

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Any contribution is greatly appreciated!

– $6.00 allows us to buy a bag of litter
– $25 helps us buy 12 cans of cat food
– $100+ allows us to fund general medical procedures for any felines that we foster on our own

Thank you so much for considering a donation! 🙂

Any contribution is greatly appreciated!

– $6.00 allows us to buy a bag of litter
– $25 helps us buy 12 cans of cat food
– $100+ allows us to fund general medical procedures for any felines that we foster on our own

Thank you so much for considering a donation! 🙂

Any contribution is greatly appreciated!

– $6.00 allows us to buy a bag of litter
– $25 helps us buy 12 cans of cat food
– $100+ allows us to fund general medical procedures for any felines that we foster on our own

Thank you so much for considering a donation! 🙂

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Cleaning Products that are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

In general, if it’s not water, your pet should not drink it! 

Leaving out household cleaning chemicals such as bleach can be very hazardous to your pets. Instead of diving into the detailed chemical makeup of commercial cleaning solutions, let’s agree to err on the side of caution and make sure that all cleaning products are out of your pet’s reach.

However, you should be aware of what surfaces you use cleaning products on and what surfaces your pets have access to. For example, if you use a bleach solution to clean your kitchen counters, make sure your pets are safely tucked away in another room until the kitchen has been aired out and the bleach has been completely rinsed off. Alternatively, you can opt for pet-safe commercial cleaning products or create your own non-toxic multi-purpose cleaning solution with vinegar. 

Medications that are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Similarly to cleaning products, your pets will undergo serious harm if they ingest your medications. The only medications your pet should ingest are the ones that a veterinarian prescribes, and even then those medications should be kept safely out of your pet’s reach. 

The bottom line with this category of toxins is: Always keep your medications put away and out of reach! 

Skin Care, Cosmetics, and Hygiene Products that are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

This category is a bit trickier because pets are not typically motivated to explore these types of items. However, if you have a pet that loves to chew on things other than their own toys it’s best to keep the items listed below tucked away. This is by no means a complete list, but the ingredients in these products are definitely not meant for your pet’s digestive system and could cause serious harm. So, if you have an overly curious pet, here are examples of things to keep tucked away: 

  • Face wash
  • Skin treatments
  • Moisturizer
  • Makeup
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Lotion 
  • Nail polish
  • Beard oil
  • Bar soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash

Home Scents that are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love a pleasantly aromatic home as much as anyone. I have way too many soy candles and incense sticks, but I’ve had to find a way to enjoy these home scents while protecting my pets’ health.

Essential oils are at the top of the list in this category. If you don’t know, essential oils are extremely concentrated scents that are extracted from plants. Please use caution when considering using an essential oil in your home, whether it’s on a surface, your body, or in a diffuser. Research the type of essential oil you’re considering using and never ever apply an essential oil directly to your pet. 

Many essential oils irritate cats’ and dogs’ upper respiratory systems. One specific oil you need to avoid around cats in particular is tea tree oil. This essential oil, while great for humans to use in different hygiene products and for its antibacterial properties, can cause neurological problems and death in cats (Pet Poison Helpline).

Candles, incense, wax warmers, and scent diffusers are a few of many different scent sources we find in our homes. The concern here is not because your pet is at risk of ingesting the item, but because inhaling the scents and off-gassing chemicals can cause eye, nose, and lung irritation (Texas A&M University). Do your best to limit the amount of artificial scents you expose your pets to in order to avoid upper respiratory irritation. 

For example, you can light one candle in your home instead of having a lit candle in every room. I do this not only for general supervision, but so my pets can access other artificial-scent-free rooms in our home. You can also opt to burn soy candles as opposed to paraffin wax candles. Paraffin wax is made of petroleum and is harmful to inhale for both humans and animals alike. 

Please keep these items out of reach of your pets, especially if they’re young or if you know that they like to get into mischief. Plants are a trickier topic that I’ll cover more in-depth in a future post. However, keep any life-threatening plants and ALL toxic products completely out of reach of your pets if you’re in doubt. I have heard awful stories, from dogs eating an entire bottle of ibuprofen to cats going into kidney failure from exposure to lilies. It’s so much better to be safe than sorry.

All of this being said…our pets are intelligent. Sometimes, no matter what precautions we put into place, they get a hold of the worst things you could imagine. Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 the minute you think your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t have.

When my dog Maisy was still a puppy, she climbed on top of the couch and took a delicate bite out of one of my orchids. I had no idea what to do, so I called the poison control number and they were immensely helpful. Since Maisy wasn’t showing signs of imminent danger, the person spoke with me on the phone for at least five minutes and even took the time to help me classify the species of my specific orchid! I highly recommend adding the Poison Control phone number to your favorites in your phone’s contact list!

PSA: Orchids are non-toxic. 🙂 

References: ASPCA, Pet Poison Helpline, Texas A&M University Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Summer Rayne Oaks

Exploring animal welfare one foster kitten at a time

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: