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I-20 Animal Medical Center

Surprising Pet Toxins

We are all familiar with poisons like antifreeze or pesticides, but many things can harm your pet that may seem harmless to us. Pet owners need to be educated on potential dangers to their pets. Having a pet is a lot like having a perpetual toddler in your house- one that never learns from mistakes. If your dog eats your couch and throws up, he won’t think about how bad he felt the next time he has an opportunity to eat a couch.

What is One of the Most Common Poisonings We See?

Rodenticides (Rat and mice poisons) are made to be tasty so rats and mice will eat them and die. Mo matter how well you think rat bait is hidden your dog can smell it, find it and eat it, because it is also apparently very tasty to dogs. We see rodenticide poisoning almost every day, and yet we have never seen an injury caused by a mousetrap.

There are no symptoms right away- but most rat baits work by interfering with blood clotting, and in 48 hours internal bleeding can occur. At that point, blood transfusions are usually required to save the patient.

Things You May Not Realize Are Toxic to Your Pet

Bread Dough

Bread dough can be toxic, especially since dogs ingest the entire batch. The dough expands in the stomach and produces ethanol, so the dog not only has alcohol poisoning, but the distension of the stomach can be very dangerous. We recently treated a dog that didn’t wait for the homemade bread, but instead consumed the packet of yeast. Also, not good.

Grapes and raisins

Fewer than 10 grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs or cats. Immediate treatment is needed if your pet ingests grapes or raisins.

Tremorgenic Mycotoxins

A fancy name for mold that grows on spoiled food, especially dairy products. It is tempting to feed leftovers to the dogs, but throw them away. We have seen dogs die of this poisoning. The first symptom is tremors which progress to seizures. Treatment can be successful if started early.

Sugar free gum

Xilitol is a sugar alcohol used in sugar free products. In dogs, it causes a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar and can also cause liver damage.

One of the most common statements we hear from owners is “I knew there was rat poison in the garage/shed/under the house/etc but I did not think the dog could get to it.” If you know your pet has ingested anything unusual, it is best to call your vet for advice. If they ingest a known toxin, seek veterinary care immediately. Our hospital has 24-hour access to a poison control hotline, which helps guide treatment for poisoned pets. One last tip- never ever use a flea control product for dogs on your cat- some products made for dogs are very toxic to cats. Read labels!


All onions, whether raw or cooked, are toxic to dogs and cats. Surprisingly it only takes a small amount of onions to poison your pet. This is because onions contain thiosulphate which acts as a toxin by destroying or damaging red blood cells. Symptoms include lethargy, difficulty breathing and anemia.

Because many types of foods contain onions (even onion powder is toxic) you have to make sure that if you feed table food it does not contain onions. Foods to consider that you may not have thought of as a problem would be pizza, tomato sauce, sauces and baby food. If you suspect that your pet has consumed onions, call your vet immediately.

Things You May Not Realize are Toxic to Your Pet Include:

  • Moldy Food- especially dairy products

  • Grapes and Raisins

  • Bread Dough

  • Homemade Play Dough

  • Liquid Potpourri

  • Hair Mousse

  • Fabric Softeners

  • Batteries

  • Mothballs

  • Pennies

  • Paintballs

  • Avocados in Birds

  • Macadamia Nuts

  • Onions and Garlic

  • Kaopectate in Cats

  • Orajel in Cats

  • Lily Flowers and plants in Cats

  • Tylenol in Cats

Items Surprisingly NOT Toxic

  • Birth Control Pills (unless they contain iron)

  • Silica Gel Packets

  • Glow-in-the Dark Sticks and Jewelry

  • Super Glue

  • Blue Toilet Bowl Water

  • Bars of Bath Soap