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Ten Tips for a Poison-Safe Household
- Be aware of the plants you have in your house and in your pet's yard. The
ingestion of azalea, oleander, mistletoe, sago palm, Easter lily, or yew plant
material, by an animal, could be fatal.
- When cleaning your house, never allow your pet access to the area where
cleaning agents are used or stored. Cleaning agents have a variety of
properties. Some may only cause a mild stomach upset, while others could cause
severe burns of the tongue, mouth, and stomach.
- When using rat or mouse baits, ant or roach traps, or snail and slug
baits, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your animals. Most
baits contain sweet smelling inert ingredients, such as jelly, peanut butter,
and sugars, which can be very attractive to your pet.
- Never give your animal any medications unless under the direction of your
veterinarian. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly
when used inappropriately. One extra strength acetaminophen tablet (500mg) can
kill a seven-pound cat.
- Keep all prescription and over the counter drugs out of your pets' reach,
preferably in closed cabinets. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer
drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are common examples of human
medication that could be potentially lethal even in small dosages. One regular
strength ibuprofen (200mg) could cause stomach ulcers in a ten-pound dog.
- Never leave chocolates unattended. Approximately one-half ounce or less of
baking chocolate per pound body weight can cause problems. Even small amounts
can cause pancreatic problems.
- Many common household items have been shown to be lethal in certain
species. Miscellaneous items that are highly toxic even in low quantities
include pennies (high concentration of zinc), mothballs (contain naphthalene
or paradichlorobenzene. one or two balls can be life threatening in most
species), potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, automatic dish detergents
(contain cationic detergents which could cause corrosive lesions), batteries
(contain acids or alkali which can also cause corrosive lesions), homemade
play dough (contains high quantity of salt), winter heat source agents like
hand or foot warmers (contain high levels of iron), cigarettes, coffee
grounds, and alcoholic drinks.
- All automotive products such as oil, gasoline, and antifreeze, should be
stored in areas away from pet access. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze
(ethylene glycol) can be deadly in a seven-pound cat and less than one
tablespoon could be lethal to a 20-pound dog.
- Before buying or using flea products on your pet or in your household,
contact your veterinarian to discuss what types of flea products are
recommended for your pet. Read ALL information before using a product on your
animals or in your home. Always follow label instructions. When a product is
labeled "for use in dogs only" this means that the product should NEVER be
applied to cats. Also, when using a fogger or a house spray, make sure to
remove all pets from the area for the time period specified on the container.
If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the manufacturer
or your veterinarian to clarify the directions BEFORE use of the product.
- When treating your lawn or garden with fertilizers, herbicides, or
insecticides, always keep your animals away from the area until the area dries
completely. Discuss usage of products with the manufacturer of the products to
be used. Always store such products in an area that will ensure no possible
These helpful tips were compiled by:
Jill A. Richardson, DVM.
Veterinary Poison Information Specialist
ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center
1717 Philo Road, Suite #36
Urbana, IL 61801