Poison Prevention Week: Common Toxicities in Pets

mount carmel animal hospital poison prevention week

In honor of Poison Prevention Week, Mount Carmel Animal Hospital informs readers of some of the most prevalent items that present a danger to companion animals.

What do you visualize when you think of the word “poison?” Did you know numerous substances that may not come to mind are hazardous to pets? Pet owners should become familiar with the common toxicities in pets. In honor of Poison Prevention Week, Mount Carmel Animal Hospital informs readers of some of the most prevalent items that present a danger to companion animals.


Chocolate, Grapes, and Raisins

Although chocolate differs in toxicity levels, baking chocolates and darker chocolate are generally more potent than milk chocolates. Chocolate has two substances that are problematic for canines – caffeine and theobromine. These ingredients can cause an array of symptoms depending on the amount ingested. For instance, diarrhea and vomiting are common in smaller amounts. Hyperactivity, rapid respiratory rates, and erratic heart rates can occur at higher amounts. Large enough amounts of ingestion may even lead to cardiac failure and seizures, so you should seek veterinary care immediately.

Raisins and grapes have contributed to kidney failure and other fatalities in dogs, even in small amounts. Also, the symptoms may include inappetence, lethargy, and urinary abnormalities and take several days to become apparent. In case of raising or grape ingestion, your vet may induce vomiting and administer IV fluids for treatment to help support the kidneys.

Onions and Garlic

One of the common toxicities in pets involve onions and garlic. Both foods are known to cause anemia in companion animals by causing damage to red blood cells. Signs of anemia might vary from pet to pet and the onset is not immediate. Some clinical signs take multiple days to appear, including pale gums, and lethargy. Contact a veterinarian right away if you suspect your dog or cat has ingested one of these food items.

Artificial Sweeteners

Xylitol is a sweetener used in place of sugar for various food items and is very harmful to dogs if eaten. Most people know that xylitol is present in different gum brands, but it can also be present in some mouthwashes, toothpaste, certain juices, sugar-free candies and mints, and even peanut butter brands. When ingested, this sweetener can lower blood sugar levels in canines to dangerous levels. As a result, hypoglycemia can develop, leading to organ failure, seizures, and even death. If your pet ingests even the smallest amount of xylitol, contact your veterinarian to seek immediate treatment.



Death of animals by rodenticide ingestion is unfortunately common. Pets are at risk even when consuming other small animals with the toxin in their systems. In addition, rodenticides function through different mechanisms. For example, anticoagulant rodenticides keep blood from clotting, causing internal and external bleeding and death. Non-anticoagulant poisoning can present with various groups of clinical signs, including seizures and neurological abnormalities. So, as part of Poison Prevention Week, please take your pet to the vet if you suspect ingestion of any amount has happened.


Fertilizer ingredients vary because there are many purposes and brands for each type. Certain fertilizer brands have ingredients that may cause immobility issues and muscle pain. Plus, ingesting significant amounts of fertilizer in canines can lead to bloat, requiring immediate medical attention. It’s ideal for pet parents to keep fertilizers out of reach from pets and supervise them when being outside where fertilizers might be present.

Household Cleaners

While it might seem apparent that household cleaning products pose a risk to animals, many pet guardians don’t realize that many can be harmful, even via inhalation. For example, bleach can cause severe skin irritation if pets come into close contact with the substance. Clinical signs of household cleaner toxicity include diarrhea, vomiting, and neurological or respiratory issues.


The Easter lily is perhaps the most prevalent lily that poses a threat to cats. Ingestion of leaves, stems or pollen from these plants can cause kidney failure in one to three days. Day and Tiger lilies are also common toxicities in pets since they are in the same family. Treatments include hospitalization with fluid therapy and medications. Additionally, pets have been known to consume mushrooms in yards. While most mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are toxic can be life-threatening to pets.

Holiday plants are beautiful but may be harmful to pets. Poinsettias are mildly toxic plants and pet owners should be cautious. The milky white part found in poinsettia stems has chemicals similar to those in household detergents. Mild signs of drooling, vomiting, or sometimes diarrhea might be seen after ingestion. Even though azaleas are lovely to look at, they also tempt your pet. If your cat or dog eats any piece of the azalea, they will experience difficulty walking, drooling, vomiting, and possible seizures.

Human Medications

Since companion animals and their guardians process medicine differently, you should never give any medication to your dog or cat without approval from a veterinarian. Common medications hazardous to pets include anti-inflammatories and pain medications like Ibuprofen and Tylenol.

Remember that what is safe for humans is not always safe for pets. In honor of Poison Prevention Week, keep all medications out of your pet’s reach and always seek vet intervention if you suspect your pet has ingested any product you think may be toxic to your pet.


Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook

This entry was posted on Friday, March 15th, 2024 at 9:52 am. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.