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Most Common Toxins That Dogs Ingest

Colin GrubbMar 21, 2017

When parents bring a new baby home, particularly if it’s the first one, they usually spend a lot of time making sure the environment is safe. As the infant grows, and becomes mobile, first by walker and then crawling and walking, any parent will tell you that you can’t turn your back on them for a second. They simply get into everything.

Baby proofing starts out with the obvious: locking the cupboard under the sink where the bleach is kept, the knife drawer in the kitchen, blocking access entirely to the garage. But then, if you have a particularly determined and curious tot, you begin finding more and more breakable items accumulating on high surfaces and more and more bedroom doors locked from the inside.

Fast-forward a few years. The little one has survived the minefield of toddlerdom and is preparing for school. You decide this is the perfect time to augment the family with a friendly, furry friend. You naturally think that if you went through all that effort to make the house safe for a baby it certainly by default should be safe for a dog, right?

The answer, actually, is no.

There are many things in our everyday lives that are of no danger to us, but are seriously hazardous to a canine. Chief among these are foods and medications we take everyday. Depending on the amount ingested, certain foods and medicines can cause serious stomach issues, neurological problems, heart and lung issues, even death. And it doesn’t always take a lot.

Here we will explore some of the most often overlooked, everyday dangers to your dog.


Chief among all doggy threats is medication. This can be either our own prescribed meds in the cabinet, the over the counter stuff, or medication for the dog itself. We might be in the habit of leaving these items out from time to time on the counter, or nightstand, assuming our kids won’t be able to open them. Remember, though medicine bottles may have baby proof caps they are, however, not “chew-proof.” Common medications you are going to want to always keep locked away are:

  • Blood pressure meds like Metoprolol, Losartan, and Lisinopril can cause GI upset (vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia), central nervous system disorders like stumbling, tremors or seizures.
  • Anti-depressants like Lexapro, Zoloft, or Prozac can cause a condition called “serotonin syndrome.” This can raise blood pressure and heart rate causing seizures.
  • Anti-inflammatory and pain meds. These kinds of drugs can cause kidney failure and ulcers in dogs.
  • Any over-the-counter drugs. This doesn’t just include Tylenol or Advil. If you happen to have herbal medications or vitamin supplements, these too can harm a dog in large doses.
  • Dog medications. Dogs can be hurt by the medications meant to help them. This includes painkillers or worm medicine.
  • Flea and tick treatments.  These can also hurt dogs if they ingest them.


  • Chocolate. If baby gets into the Halloween candy and eats an entire bag of fun size Snickers, chances are all he’s going to have is a huge tummy ache. However, chocolate can actually be fatal to dogs because of a chemical called methylxanthine. In small amounts, methylxanthine only causes vomiting. But 4 to 8 ounces of chocolate could be enough to kill the dog, depending on the size. Dogs should never be fed chocolate.
  • Onions and Garlic. Members of the Allium family include onions, garlic, chives and leeks can all cause problems for your dog as they all contain a compound that can damage hemoglobin and cause anemia. A telltale sign of this would be red or brown urine. Generally, a dog would have to consume about .5% of its body weight to be affected.
  • Raisins and Grapes.  These fruits have been linked to kidney failure in dogs.
  • Sugar Substitutes. Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in a wide variety of products like chewing gum, mints, candy, etc. It can provoke a drop in blood sugar, seizures, and liver failure in dogs. For a complete list of products with Xylitol check here.
  • Avocado. Although the edible part of an avocado is harmless, the skin and pit contain persin, which is poison to dogs.
  • Alcohol. This would manifest itself much the same way as in humans. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to vomiting, difficulty breathing, passing out, and death.


Here we get into a no-brainer area. These are the items from around the house that can poison human and canine alike. Things like pool chemicals, bleach, and antifreeze will cause symptoms of vomiting, chemical burns and kidney failure. Lawn and garden care products like fertilizer and insecticide can cause everything from mild stomach upset to death. Also, pest control chemicals can be potentially harmful in certain circumstances, including the dog eating a dead pest killed by the treatment. Here are some suggestions for safer pest control alternatives.


Regardless of how diligent you are in keeping your dog away from these items, there are always accidents. And there’s no telling what a dog might eat away from the house, or when a child or unaware guest will think giving the dog some artificially flavored gum or chocolate is being nice. To be prepared for the worst, we recommend you take a look at our Top Ten Pet Insurance providers for the year.