Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month: Part 2

There is so much information on what is good for our fur-babies and what is not. Previously we touched on foods that can cause harm to our pets, however, it is not only foods that our pets can get into. There are so many plants, cleaning products, and household chemicals we have laying around our homes that can cause harm to our beloved pets.


Essential Oils

Essential oils are most toxic to cats. Cats do not possess the liver enzyme, glucuronly tranferase, which breaks down hydrocarbons and terpenoids, compounds that most essential oils are made up of. Essential Oil World comprised a great list of essential oils that are most toxic to cats. They include, lemon, lime, orange, bergamot, tangerine, pine, mandarin, spruce, grapefruit, fir, cinnamon, thyme, clove, savory and oregano.


Fabric Softener Sheets

Fabric softener sheets can be detrimental to your pets health. They coat fabrics with chemicals which help to disperse static cling. Some dryer sheets contain benzyl acetate, camphor or even chloroform. If you pet chews or ingest a dryer sheet, even a used one, it can cause serious issues ranging from skin irritation, systemic distress, or even kidney failure. Dryer sheets also do not biodegrade easily so if ingested these sheets can cause stomach or intestinal blockages.


Bar Soap and Face Wash

Most face washes and bar soaps contain detergents which, if your pet ingests it, can cause gastrointestinal irritation. Some soaps also contain essential oils which (also if ingested) can cause minor central nervous system issues. If any gastrointestinal issues are persistent it could lead to dehydration. If a large enough portion of a bar of soap is ingested it can cause an obstruction to the GI tract or stomach.


Breath Fresheners

Breath fresheners such as mouthwash which is extremely harmful to pets. There are certain breath strips and fresheners that contain menthol which can irritate the tissues in the mouth and/or the GI tract. Some breath fresheners also contain xylitol which, as discussed previously, can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar resulting in depression, loss of control, seizures and even liver failure.


Cigarettes and Nicotine Patches

Animals that are exposed to nicotine through second hand smoke, chewing on tobacco (cigar/cigarette butts), nicotine gum or patches are at a serious risk of nicotine poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, coughing, dehydration, seizures and coma. If you suspect your animal may have nicotine poisoning take them to the vet immediately.


Mosquito Repellent

There are certain mosquito repellents on the market which contain DEET. Dogs and cats are extremely sensitive to DEET and may even develop neurological problems, including tremors, seizures, and even death, if these products are used on them.


Antifreeze containing Ethylene Glycol

Ethylene Glycol is the main ingredient in most brands of antifreeze. It has a sweet flavor which can be enticing to animals looking for a tasty snack. Even a very small amount can cause major issues to animals. Antifreeze can cause kidney failure in a matter of days so knowing the signs and symptoms of antifreeze poisoning is essential. There ae two phases of antifreeze poisoning. At first, animals appear to be disoriented, lethargic and groggy. These symptoms become apparent 30 minutes to an hour after ingestion and can last for several hours. The second phase can last up to 3 days and can include vomiting, kidney failure, oral and gastric ulcers, coma, and death.


Insect & Rodent Baits

From the chemicals to the containers themselves, there are many aspects of insect and rodent baits that cause harm to dogs and cats. has a ton of helpful information on various chemicals and the types of reactions that can occur if your pet ingests them. Amitraz is used in some flea and tick collars (as well as some topical flea treatment) as insecticides. It typically causes little to no no damage when used properly but, if ingested, amitraz can cause lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and disorientation. Bring your pet in immediately if you feel they are experiencing any of these symptoms.



I’m sure everyone can name at least 1 plant that is toxic to animals. There are so many different types of toxic plants it is difficult to keep track. I found an extremely helpful site,, which discusses the 23 most common toxic plants and the signs to watch out for if your pet has ingested any of them. Most commonly you will notice vomiting and diarrhea first which can progress rapidly to more serious and life threatening issues.

From foods to chemicals to plants there is a lot out there that can cause massive harm to our furry family members. Staying educated is the easiest way to keep your pets happy and healthy. As always, if you have any questions about what your pet can and can’t eat (or if they have eaten something they shouldn’t have) please do not hesitate to call our office right away. For more information about different toxins you pet may encounter please visit some if the websites below:

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