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Blog category: Pets

Cat and Dog Owners Beware: Items in Your Home Toxic For Pets

5 min read

We love our pets. Many of us cannot imagine our whole life without our furry friends. We even call them our “fur babies” because we love them like our kids. But while our cats and dogs may also be people, they aren’t human. Too many things we eat or drink and enjoy are toxic to pets. So, it’s critical to be aware of common household items that are toxic to cats or dogs. From pet-endangering holiday table scraps to house plants toxic to pets, there’s much to learn to keep your furry family members safe and healthy. While some poisonous household items lead to vomiting, others can prove deadly.


Plants lead our list of the things we love that are toxic to pets because cats and dogs love plants, too. Plants smell wild, living, outdoorsy, and green — everything our pets crave. But many plants have evolved toxic compounds to protect themselves from being eaten. Some plants bite back with a sharp and nasty taste. But other plants, like tulips, lilies, jade plants, amaryllis, dieffenbachia, corn plants (Dracaena frangrans), pothos, ivy, and many other plants, are toxic to pets. Even nibbling a few leaves can have severe effects. For instance, cats who eat a bit of a lily flower, leaf, or bulb can experience liver failure, diarrhea, dehydration, anorexia, or even death. So, before bringing a new plant home, be sure it will pose no threat to your cat or dog by running it through the ASPCA database on toxic plants.


Avocado is a superfood for humans, making us healthier and happier. So it’s no surprise that animal lovers ask, can cats eat avocado? And on Super Bowl Sunday, as you pass the chips and dips, you may wonder, can dogs eat guacamole? Unfortunately, no. What is good for us (and yummy, too) is toxic to pets. Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called persin found in their flesh, pits, skin, and foliage. Persin is highly toxic to dogs and cats. In large amounts, it can even be deadly.

Essential Oils

As much as you may love the uplifting scent of essential oils, they are highly toxic to pets. Many essential oils like eucalyptus and tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, pine, and ylang-ylang will sicken your dog, and many more will be toxic for cats. Even diffusing the oils in the air can be harmful, so beware of air fresheners. The microdroplets that settle out of the air onto your pet’s fur will be ingested when they bathe. Pets poisoned by essential oils may vomit, struggle to breathe, have muscle tremors, become weak, paw at their face, or experience burns on their lips, tongue, or gums.


Chocolate proves that the things we love aren’t always as good for those we love. Chocolate is made from cocoa, which contains the toxic compound theobromine. Theobromine makes chocolate highly toxic to dogs and dangerous for cats, too. Common signs of chocolate poisoning in pets include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, restlessness, excessive urination, and a racing heart rate. Watch for increased thirst as an early sign. And keep the Easter candy for yourself! (and the kids, too, of course.)


Can pets be toxic to pets? Yep — when one of the pets is a toad from the Bufo toad family. The Colorado River toad and the cane/marine toad are two members of this toxic toad family. The toads secrete a toxin when threatened to deter predators. While some people lick these toads (blech!) to get high, dogs will foam at the mouth, retch, and can experience heart arrhythmia. Dog-loving families living in or traveling to California, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, or Mexico often discover toad poisoning in dogs up close. As the toads’ habitats expand, this problem will invade nearby states. So always be cautious if your dog shows interest in a toad.

Garlic and Onions

Garlic, onions, chives, scallions, shallots, and other alliums are other examples of flavorful and healthy foods we enjoy that are toxic to pets. All plants in the onion family contain N-propyl disulfide, a poisonous substance that breaks down red blood cells in dogs and cats. This toxin is found in the leaves, bulbs, and even powdered forms. It’s easy to become distracted when cooking or preparing for the holidays, so keeping an eye on your pets so they don’t encounter foods that can harm them is critical. (Read our post on additional ways to protect your pets during the holidays.)


In certain areas of the country, citizens have the freedom to consume cannabis, medically or recreationally. And like humans, dogs and cats have cannabinoid receptors in their brains and bodies. So we may even use tinctures formulated for our pets to ease stress or joint pain effectively. However, cannabis flowers or edibles made for humans can be toxic to pets, especially dogs. Symptoms of cannabis intoxication in dogs include stumbling, lethargy, tremors, uncontrolled urination, agitation, and, in severe cases, coma or even death.

Grapes and Raisins

What’s most frightening about the toxicity of grapes and raisins is that scientists are unsure what makes them so dangerous. It’s hard to believe that one of nature’s healthiest, tastiest, and most convenient snacks is so wildly toxic to pets. For the many pets that experience a toxic reaction to grapes or raisins, sudden kidney failure can result from eating a single fruit. Even worse, some pets can eat them without mishap, making those pet parents more likely to risk them with another dog or cat, possibly with tragic results. Call the vet immediately if your pet eats a grape or raisin.

When you make a home with pets, you fill your life with love and laughter. Just be sure to make certain your home is safe for your furry friends. Pet insurance from a trusted Wawanesa partner can help you prepare for any surprises. You don’t want to learn the value of pet insurance and what it covers the hard way.

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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

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