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Top Household Dangers to Pets
by May Monten

Many items around the house, including some that may surprise you, can be dangerous to animals. The top household dangers to pets include rodent and insect poisons, many plants, some common foods that are safe for humans but not animals, nicotine, and household items such as recliners, shredders and electrical cords.

Keep potentially dangerous items out of the reach of pets. If you think your pet has been poisoned, call your vet or a vet emergency service immediately.


The risk of getting poisoned is a top household danger to pets, as common substances can be fatal to pets when ingested.

Rat poisons and insecticides

Rat poisons and insecticides are the top household sources of pet poisoning, but other items commonly found around the house are poisonous to pets as well.

Other common poisons

  • Antifreeze with ethylene glycol is very toxic — as little as one teaspoon can kill a cat. A safer antifreeze to keep in a home that has pets is one that contains propylene glycol, which is safe if ingested in small amounts. Snow globes can also contain ethylene glycol.
  • Chemical fertilizers and plant foods are toxic.
  • Many common human prescription and over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins, can be toxic to pets.


Food is a top household danger to pets because it is always present in the home, and some foods that are good for people can be harmful or even fatal to pets.

  • Chocolate can be poisonous to dogs, cats and ferrets.
  • Garbage can be harmful. Don't let your pets get into the garbage cans. Food may be contaminated with bacteria, and leftover chicken bones can choke a pet.
  • Other people foods that are bad for pets include coffee, alcoholic beverages, macadamia nuts, avocados, grapes and raisins. Onions, garlic and chives are more toxic for cats than for dogs, but it's not safe even for dogs to eat them in large quantities.


Nicotine is toxic in all its forms. Keep cigarettes, cigarette butts, cigars, snuff, loose tobacco, and nicotine patches and gums out of the reach of pets.


More than 700 plants pose a danger to animals. Lilies are very toxic to cats. Marijuana, sago palms, tulip bulbs, azaleas, chrysanthemums and English ivy are all harmful or toxic to animals.

Household items

  • Recliners: Kittens and puppies may like to crawl underneath recliners. They could get crushed when someone sits down, so look out for them.
  • Electrical cords: Kittens and puppies like to chew on them.
  • Toilet bowl water is dangerous if it contains continuous self-cleaning chemicals.
  • Paper shredders: Cats may be attracted to the warmth of paper shredders. Their fur can get caught in the gear teeth. Dogs may get their tongues caught in the teeth. Make sure that you turn the auto-feed off.

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