Did you know over 100,000 dogs are poisoned unintentionally every year? There are so many things in your own home that may be poisonous to your dog. In honor of National Poison Prevention Week, we are sharing 10 things you probably didn’t know are toxic to dogs. We will discover common household items and foods that can cause serious problems for your dog.
If you suspect your dog has consumed any of these items or your dog is behaving abnormally, seek medical help immediately.
Engine coolant, or antifreeze, is a chemical used to keep your engine from overheating in warm weather and from freezing in cold weather. This chemical is extremely toxic to dogs, and it takes as little as 5 tablespoons to kill a medium-sized dog. Because of its sweet smell, your dog might be attracted to antifreeze and happily lap it up. It is usually brightly colored but can be darker when it is dirty. If you have a bottle of it in your house, make sure it is sealed and stored some place out of your dog’s reach. Keep in mind, cars and trucks commonly leak coolant, leaving a puddle behind for your dog to find. Always supervise your dog when outside and pay attention while on your routine neighborhood walks!
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes may seem like a healthy snack for your dog, but in reality, feeding your dog grapes can be fatal. Avoid feeding your dog grapes of all colors and types as well as products made with grapes. Your dog should also stay away from raisins as these are simply dried grapes.
The reason grapes are toxic to dogs is unknown. The toxicity may be due to dogs being unable to digest certain compounds found in grapes such as tannins, flavonoids, and monosaccharides. Even though the cause is unknown, refrain from feeding your dog grapes in any quantity. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry.
Onions and Garlic
Unfortunately, we have to add onions and garlic to the list. There have been so many meals that I would have loved to share with my dog but couldn’t because of these toxic vegetables. All parts and forms of onions and garlic are poisonous to dogs whether they are raw, cooked, or powdered. Before feeding your dog any human food, check the label. You’d be surprised how many products contain these vegetables!
Onions and garlic contain a chemical compound called allyl propyl disulfide which is toxic to dogs. This compound causes a condition called hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to damage and destroy its own red blood cells. Onion and garlic toxicity in dogs is based on the amount your dog consumes and your dog’s weight. Typically, if your dog eats more than 0.5% of its body weight in onions or garlic at once, it can be dangerous. Something to keep in mind is that the toxins can build up in your dog’s system. So if you feed your dog what is considered a “safe” amount of onions or garlic consistently, it can be life-threatening. To be safe, refrain from feeding your dog anything that contains allyl propyl disulfide in any quantity.
Yes, this sweet and tasty treat is toxic to dogs. Chocolate is toxic for two reasons: it contains theobromine and caffeine. (We will dive into the details of caffeine a little later.) Theobromine is a compound found in the cacao plant which is used to make chocolate. Unlike humans, dogs cannot metabolize theobromine quickly. As a result, this toxin builds up to an unsafe amount in your dog’s body.
Similar to feeding your dog onions and garlic, the toxicity of chocolate is based on your dog’s weight and how much is consumed. Typically, if your dog eats any more than one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of bodyweight, it can be dangerous. Notice that I mentioned “milk chocolate”. This is because the different types of chocolate each contain a different amount of theobromine. Below, I listed each type of chocolate in order from most theobromine content to least theobromine content (or most toxic to least toxic).
- Cocoa powder
- Baking chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate
As with everything else on this list, please refrain from feeding your dog chocolate in any amount; even if your dog has eaten it before with no problems occurring.
I bet you weren’t expecting peanut butter to be on a list of things toxic to dogs! Some peanut butter contains a chemical called xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and is used as a sweetener in many common food products, including ketchup, barbecue sauce, candy, and several other items. This chemical can significantly lower your dog’s blood sugar level and can cause liver problems.
Unfortunately, many companies will list xylitol under “Other Ingredients” or “Inactive Ingredients” on the labels of their products. This makes it very difficult to know if a product contains xylitol or not. If your dog loves peanut butter or you have some fun “dog-friendly” recipes that call for peanut butter, you can find peanut butter made specifically for dogs at your local pet store and online.
When ordering a delicious ice cream cone for yourself or your dog (we don’t judge), hold the cherries! These sweet little fruits can be toxic to dogs. The stems, pits, and leaves of cherries contain a poisonous chemical called cyanide. Cyanide is toxic to both humans and dogs in large quantities. So it isn’t likely one or two cherries will seriously affect your dog, but try to avoid feeding this fruit to your dog.
Maintaining proper oral hygiene for your dog is very important. However, avoid using human toothpaste. Most common toothpastes contain xylitol, which is a chemical toxic to dogs. This is the same chemical found in some peanut butter, which we discussed earlier. Xylitol can significantly lower your dog’s blood sugar level and cause liver problems.
If you are going to brush your dog’s teeth, use a toothpaste made specifically for dogs. You can find some online or at your local pet store.
Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system. It is commonly found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. If dogs consume a large amount of caffeine, it can cause several health problems, including raised blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia (or irregular heartbeat), and tremors or seizures. If your dog finds a cup of coffee or tea and decides he needs an “energy boost”, keep a close eye on him. A small amount of caffeine might not cause any harm but a large amount can be disastrous.
Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is a drug that relieves pain and reduces fevers in humans. When dogs consume it, however, serious problems can arise. Acetaminophen is metabolized by your dog’s liver, where it is converted to a substance known as glucuronide and excreted through urine. When your dog ingests too much acetaminophen for its body to convert and excrete, responsive metabolites are composed. These metabolites damage your dog’s liver cells, ultimately killing them. This can lead to liver failure. Metabolites can also damage red blood cells, making them unable to supply the body with oxygen. A toxic dose of acetaminophen in dogs is typically 45 milligrams per pound of bodyweight.
Many dog owners intentionally give their dogs acetaminophen, hoping to reduce pain. Never give your dog a drug intended for human use without the approval of a licensed veterinarian. There are some instances where your veterinarian will advise you to give your dog this medication. In that case, follow your vet’s instructions carefully and stick to the recommended dose.
If your dog is anything like mine, they like to catch (and eat) anything that dangles and flaps around, like dryer sheets. These sheets may make our clothes smell good and reduce static electricity but they can be very harmful to our dogs. Most dryer sheets contain chemicals that are toxic to dogs, such as chloroform, benzyl acetate, and camphor. Dryer sheets may also contain cationic detergents. These reduce static electricity. Dogs that are exposed to cationic detergents may experience skin, eye, and mucosal damage. (Mucosa is the tissue that lines certain cavities and organs inside of the body.) Other common problems that may arise include CNS depression and pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the lungs).
There is a tip going around on the internet that suggests pet owners use dryer sheets to remove loose fur off of their dogs’ and cats’ bodies. This can be very dangerous since cats and dogs will lick their fur (which now has toxic chemicals on it). If you use dryer sheets, keep them out of your dog’s reach and properly dispose of used ones.
There are over 100,000 dogs unintentionally poisoned every year, many by the things we learned about today. By reading this article, I can tell that you genuinely care about your dog and are on the track to preventing accidental poisoning. Some things to remember: always keep toxic items out of your dog’s reach; refrain from feeding your dog toxic foods, even in small amounts; contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect (or know) your dog has consumed something poisonous. By acting quickly, you can prevent major problems from occurring.
If you found this article helpful, share it with a dog owner. Together, we can raise awareness and help prevent accidental poisoning in our beloved pets