Spring is right around the corner, and that means deep cleaning, garden planting, and lawn maintenance. Hopefully, you’ll also be able to sneak in some play time with your four-legged friend.

But, be sure your pet’s curious nose stays out of any toxic substances you use to clean, fertilize, and treat your home and yard. It’s true that curiosity can kill the cat, but it can also harm your pup. Keep these possible poisons out of paw’s reach so you and your furry friend can enjoy the spring sunshine together without enduring a trip to the emergency room.

Inside your home

Our homes are full of hidden dangers. In addition to the obvious cleaners and chemicals, items labeled “natural” can even pose a threat to your pet. Watch out for these common household hazards:


  • Chocolate — Methylxanthines—compounds related to caffeine—found in this sweet treat can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, and death. The darker the chocolate, the more deadly it is for your pet.
  • Xylitol — This deadly sugar substitute can be found in chewing gum, toothpaste, and baked goods. Ingestion can result in a severe drop in blood sugar, causing lethargy, seizures, and liver failure.
  • Grapes and raisins — These fruits can cause kidney failure in dogs, although no one has discovered which toxic substance is the cause.
  • Macadamia nuts — These tasty nuts can lead to tremors, lethargy, hyperthermia, and vomiting in dogs.
  • Yeast in unbaked dough — Keep your pet out of your kitchen when you are baking. If your pet eats some dough, gas is released into her digestive system as the yeast in the dough rises, leading to a painful, bloated stomach that can become an emergency situation. Yeast also produces ethanol, which can make your pet drunk—another toxic situation.
  • Garlic and onions — If you share your food with your pet, be sure her portion does not contain garlic or onions, which can lead to a type of anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells.

Human medications

  • Antihistamines — Many allergy medications contain pseudoephedrine, a common decongestant that causes vomiting, hyperactivity, weakness, shaking, and agitation. Check with us before giving your pet an allergy medication to ensure its safety.
  • Human prescriptions — Medications are easily dropped on the floor, and your waiting dog or cat can snatch up a pill more quickly than you can blink. Heart medications and antidepressants are the two most commonly reported toxins.
  • Pain medications — Everything from OTC Tylenol and ibuprofen to stronger narcotic substances have potentially deadly side effects. Never give your pet a human-formulated pain reliever without consulting us first. You may inadvertently cause liver or kidney failure, seizures, anemia, gastric ulcers, or even death.

 Pet medications

  • Mix-ups — Mistakes can happen, such as giving your cat a canine flea preventive or mixing up your own medications with your pet’s pills. Always double check that you are giving your pet her correct medication.
  • Household cleaners — Bleach, rust removers, drain cleaners, detergents, and numerous other products are chock-full of chemicals your pet may ingest when running across a freshly mopped floor or nosing into an open bottle.

On your lawn and garden

Prepping lawns, gardens, and flower beds requires many chemicals. Are your fertilizers, weed killers, and plants safe for your pet?


  • Sago palm — All parts of the sago palm are poisonous to pets, but the seeds are the most toxic. Pets who ingest this popular plant can experience drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea within 15 minutes. If left untreated, liver failure and death can occur.
  • Lilies — All parts of a lily, including the pollen, are toxic to cats, causing lethargy, anorexia, and vomiting, but can quickly to progress to kidney failure.
  • Oleander — Oleander blossom contains cardiac glycosides, which produce muscle tremors, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea in dogs.
  • Tulips — Dogs that eat tulip bulbs, the most toxic portion, will drool excessively, become nauseous, and suffer irritation of the mouth.
  • Crocuses — These flowers can burn a dog’s mouth and cause digestive distress, liver and kidney damage, and cardiac issues.


The different types of commonly used rodenticides cause a wide variety of complications. The most common brand uses an anticoagulant that can lead to clotting problems and internal bleeding. Another type may increase your pet’s calcium levels and cause cardiac arrest.

Fertilizers and herbicides

After you apply fertilizers and weed killers to your lawn, it’s easy for your dog to ingest these dangerous chemicals. Signs of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, seizures, and abdominal pain. Beware of organic fertilizers, which dogs find highly attractive because they contain tempting blood or bone meal, but can lead to pancreatitis or gastrointestinal obstruction.

Cocoa mulch

This  mulch variety, with its delightful aroma and rich chocolate color, attracts lawn-care enthusiasts and their dogs. Cocoa mulch causes issues similar to chocolate, but can be even more hazardous because of the additional chemicals it contains.

Finding it hard to choose a pet-safe fertilizer or household cleaner? Schedule an appointment, and we’ll discuss options that will keep your pet safe from poisons.