How to Protect Our Pets from Household Poisons

It is commonly known that we need to be careful about certain plants, human foods and household items because they can poison our pets. However, it is good to review this from time to time and check our surroundings to be sure none of these items has become accessible to our pets.
Pictured to the right is Activated Charcoal which can be used for cats, dogs and livestock.
Remember that just because we would not find something interesting or appealing does not mean our pets would not. They are inquisitive and are attracted to eat things we can not fathom.
Please note that certain specious of pets may have specific issues not listed below. This guide is meant to be generic and not focused on only one species.
So, were are the areas we should look when evaluating our pets safety?
  • Places that allow access to human food: Outside of weight control and nutritional issues, many human foods are poisonous to pets.
  • Places that allow access to human medications. An everyday human medication can be poison. An example is acetaminophen which is found in most households.
  • Garbage: In addition to human foods found in garbage, rotting food can produce bacteria that cause illness in pets. Also, it is not uncommon for non-food items to be thrown out that our pets should not have access to.
  • Compost piles can attract animals and are not safe. The decaying organic material can create dangerous toxin and mold.
  • Some surface algae on ponds (Blue Green Algae for example) can be poisonous.
  • Areas used to store household cleaner and chemicals
  • Areas used to store outdoor cleaners and chemical (garage/sheds etc.)
  • Areas used to store garden/lawn insecticides, fertilizers and general chemicals
  • Areas were pest poisons have been applied (rat & mice for example)
  • Plants – both inside the house and in outside gardens. Many plant specious are both attractive and poisonous for pets. Certain outdoor mulch products may be an issue as well such a cocoa mulch .
  • Mushrooms growing in the yard can be poisonous
  • Note that seasonal holidays can bring new items into our homes that are poisonous. Candy at Halloween and holly/mistletoe/lilies and Christmas & Easter are examples.
How do make these areas safe for our friends?
  • A lot is just recognizing the risks above and applying common sense. A few things to consider are:
    • Don’t assume doors will be shut or access denied to areas of concern. Assume your pet, at some point, will be able to enter an area of concern. If something is accessible to your pet once he is in the area it needs to be in a sealed container. Try to locate items up high and out of access if possible.
    • Indoor plants should not be accessible. Be mindful that leaves can fall off a plant to the floor. Therefore the plant itself may be safe in it’s location but once the leaves fall off your pet may be able to ingest them.
    • Evaluate whether you really need an item. If it’s not likely to be used again than properly dispose of it. This simply eliminate the risk entirely.
    • Make sure garbage cans have locking lids or use cords to lock the top on the can to prevent access.
    • Prevent access to areas in your yard that are a concern –  plants, compost piles, ponds, etc. This may require fencing. You’ll need to evaluate your pets behavior and how dangerous an area is to assess the risk level. One pet may sample everything in site (especially young dogs) while other other pets are not that inquisitive.
    • If you have a pond try to prevent algae build up. Clean areas free of mushrooms.
    What are a list plants and food items to be concerned with?
    The following is a list of plants and foods of concern. It is not meant to be a full list (as it is difficult for us to think of all possibilities) but a good starting point. The sources for these items are the AAHA (www.healthyPets.com), ASPCA (www.aspca.org)
  • Alcohol (all beverages, ethanol, methanol, isopropyl)
  • Amaryllis bulb
  • Amanita mushrooms
  • Anthurium
  • Apple seeds
  • Apricot seeds
  • Avocado (leaves, seeds, stem, fruit, skin) in birds and pocket pets
  • Azalea (entire rhododendron family)
  • Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
  • Begonia
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Bittersweet Boxwood
  • Buckeye Bulbs (most kinds)
  • Buttercup (Ranunculus)
  • Bleeding heart
  • Caladium
  • Castor bean
  • Cherry pits
  • Chocolate
  • Chrysanthemum (a natural source of pyrethrins)
  • Choke cherry, unripe berries
  • Chrysanthemum (natural source of pyrethrins)
  • Clematis Crocus bulb
  • Coffee
  • Croton (Codiaeum species)
  • Cyclamen bulb Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)
  • Chinese sacred or heavenly bamboo
  • Crocus bulb Delphinium, larkspur, monkshood
  • Eggplant
  • Elephant’s ear
  • English ivy (All Hedera species of ivy)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis)
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Hyacinth bulbs
  • Hydrangea
  • Holly berries
  • Hops
  • Iris corms
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit
  • Japanese pieris
  • Jimson weed
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lantana
  • Lily-of-the-valley
  • Lily-Asiatic
  • Lily-Calla
  • Lily-Day
  • Lily-Easter
  • Lily-Star Gazer
  • Lily (bulbs of most species)
  • Lupine species
  • Marijuana (Cannabis)
  • Milkweed
  • Mistletoe berries
  • Mountain laurel Oleander
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Morning glory
  • Moldy foods
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Narcissus, daffodil (Narcissus)
  • Oak
  • Onions
  • Peach pits
  • Pencil cactus(leaves and stem)
  • Potato (leaves and stem)
  • Rosary Pea
  • Raisons
  • Rhubarb Leaves
  • Lantana
  • Scheffelera
  • Shamrock
  • Spurge (Euphorbia species)
  • Tea (caffiene)
  • Tomatoes (leaves and stem)
  • Tobacco Products Yew
  • Walnuts
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast dough