We love our pets and want to make sure they’re safe and comfortable at home. But did you know some common household items can also be highly dangerous for animals and must be kept safely out of reach, or – in some cases – shouldn’t be brought into the house at all if you have pets? Here are some common items that can be dangerous, even fatal – this will help you protect your furry friends from things that can cause them harm. We encourage you to seek out advice from reputable sources like our Knowledgebase or your vet, as this isn’t an exhaustive list.
A surprising number of common household plants can be highly toxic to pets. For example, lilies can cause acute and potentially fatal kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours in cats – so if your cat has had access to a lily plant (even if you didn’t actually see them contact the plant), take them to the nearest vet immediately. Other common plant species can be toxic to dogs, cats, and horses – the US animal welfare organisation ASPCA has a good list on their website.
Some foods are toxic to your pets and should never be fed to them – and you should be careful if cooking with these foods to ensure animals don’t have access to them (watch out for kitchen countertops around some of our more enterprising pets!). These include chocolate; members of the Allium family like onions, garlic, chives and leeks; tomatoes (for cats); macadamia nuts; raisins, sultanas and grapes; avocado; and products containing caffeine.
Feeding fat trimmings may cause gastrointestinal upsets for your pet and even pancreatitis, and foods such as raw fish, liver and sugary foods can be dangerous in excess. Be careful not to feed your pets cooked bones as they can splinter and cause gastrointestinal obstructions.
Many prescription and over the counter medicines are toxic to animals – for example, paracetamol (Panadol) is highly poisonous to cats, even in tiny amounts, and ibuprofen is toxic to dogs. Never medicate your pet without the advice of your veterinarian and make sure that all medications – for humans or animals – are kept in sealed containers out of your pets’ reach. Some pet medicines can be dangerous if used incorrectly. For example, some flea prevention treatments for dogs contain compounds that are highly toxic for cats. Always use medicines according to your vet and the package’s instructions.
Fertilisers can be dangerous, although the exact effects may differ depending on the product in question. We recommend pet owners take active steps to ensure dogs and other pets don’t ingest any type of fertiliser material – and if you suspect your pet has ingested fertiliser, contact your vet for advice. Some types of fertiliser like bone meal and blood meal can cause significant gastrointestinal upset if eaten in large quantities by dogs.
Rodent poisons and insecticides
Rodent poisons and insecticides are one of the most common causes of pet poisonings. They are designed to entice animals to eat them and attempts to hide them in hard-to-reach places are often unsuccessful. Be aware that your cat or dog can also be poisoned if they eat a rodent who has been poisoned. We recommend more humane methods of pest control and, if you must use rodenticides or insecticides, keep them safely locked up and only use them in areas your pet definitely can’t access.
Other things to consider
Some other household dangers to watch out for include antifreeze (which is deadly even in small amounts), fruit stones that have dropped from trees (which can cause intestinal blockages or obstructions), and xylitol sugar substitute, which is very dangerous to dogs, so be sure that they cannot access any products containing this such as some chewing gums, lollies, drinks, toothpastes and baked goods.
For more advice, visit the RSPCA Knowledgebase, the Animal Emergency Centre advice on pet dangers, or your veterinarian.