At Animal Medical Hospital of Naples, we love to see happy, healthy pets thrive. But did you know many seemingly harmless household and food items can pose a serious health risk to your four-legged companion? We offer tips on what to look out for and how you can keep your pet safe. 

Food and treats that are toxic to pets

Pet owners love to give their four-legged BFFs special treats, but some human foods should be strictly off-limits. Here are just a few that are toxic to pets: 

  • Chocolate — The culprit in this sweet treat is theobromine, a stimulant that dogs and cats metabolize more slowly than humans do. Even small amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and, in severe cases, seizures or even death. Symptoms typically appear within six to 12 hours of ingestion.
  • Grapes and raisins — While the exact toxin in grapes and raisins remains unknown, these snacktime staples can lead to kidney failure in dogs. Keep them out of reach, and if your dog ingests any, contact your veterinarian immediately. Vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy can appear within 12 to 24 hours.
  • Xylitol — This sugar substitute, which is commonly found in sugar-free gum, candy, and baked goods, is highly toxic to dogs. It causes a rapid drop in blood sugar, leading to weakness, seizures, and liver damage. Symptoms can appear within 30 minutes of ingestion.
  • Onions, garlic, and chives — These vegetables contain N-propyl disulfide, a compound that causes Heinz Body anemia, which damages red blood cells in dogs and cats. Ingestion can cause anemia, weakness, and pale gums, typically within 24 to 72 hours.
  • Macadamia nuts — While not fatal, these nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and weakness in dogs within 12 hours of ingestion.
  • Yeast dough — Raw dough ferments in the stomach, producing alcohol that can lead to intoxication and bloat in dogs. Symptoms like vomiting, difficulty breathing, and a distended abdomen appear within 30 to 60 minutes.

Household products that are dangerous to pets

It’s not just food that owners should worry about. Everyday household chemicals and medications can cause serious problems if pets ingest them.

  • Antifreeze — This sweet-smelling liquid is highly toxic because of the ethylene glycol it contains. Even a few licks can cause kidney failure and death in pets. Symptoms may not appear for 12 to 72 hours, making early intervention crucial.
  • Household cleaners — Bleach, ammonia, and drain cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can irritate or burn skin, eyes, and respiratory systems if ingested or inhaled. Symptoms like coughing, vomiting, and difficulty breathing can appear immediately.
  • Insecticides and rodenticides — These products contain toxins that can be deadly if a pet ingests them or if they ingest an animal that has eaten the bait. Symptoms vary depending on the specific product but can include tremors, seizures, and vomiting.
  • Medications — Many common human medications — including Tylenol, Motrin, Advil, and Aleve — are often toxic to pets and can cause poisoning, even in small doses. Symptoms vary depending on the medication but can include lethargy, vomiting, and seizures. Do not give your pet any human medication without consulting with your veterinarian first. 

Plants that are toxic to pets

Though beautiful, many types of plants and flowers can make pets sick. 

  • Lilies — Many lilies, including Easter lilies, tiger lilies, and stargazer lilies, contain toxins that cause acute kidney failure in cats. Symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, and decreased urination can appear within 12 hours.
  • Aconitum (Monkshood) — This attractive plant contains toxic alkaloids that can cause paralysis, irregular heartbeat, and death in both dogs and cats. Symptoms like vomiting, weakness, and difficulty breathing appear quickly, within minutes to hours.
  • Azaleas and rhododendrons — These common garden plants contain grayanotoxins, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and even coma in pets. Symptoms typically appear within one to 2 hours of ingestion.

Recognizing signs of pet poisoning and taking action

If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, act quickly. Contact your veterinarian immediately, or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. 

Keeping your pet safe from household toxins starts with awareness and proactive measures. Store dangerous items securely, educate family members about pet safety, and consider pet-proofing your home. Remember, even small amounts of certain substances can be harmful.

Our dedicated team is committed to your pet’s health and well-being. If you have any concerns about potential toxins in your home or suspect your pet has ingested something harmful, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at Animal Medical Hospital of Naples. We are here to answer your questions and provide the best possible care for your pet. Schedule an appointment today to discuss pet safety and ensure your pet thrives in a healthy, hazard-free environment.