Dog-proofing your home is just as important as child-proofing, since many common household items can be toxic to dogs. From food and drinks to toys and plants, this guide will tell you some everyday items that are best kept away from dogs and puppies.
If you suspect your dog may have ingested something dangerous, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
Food & Beverages
Your dog might beg for a taste of what you’re eating, but it’s important to know that many foods can be dangerous for your dog. Some of the most common things include:
- Onions, garlic & chives
- Grapes & raisins
- Tree nuts
Check out our blog about foods that are dangerous for dogs to eat for even more foods to look out for. If you want to treat your dog to something special, feed them a treat made specifically for dogs. Our freeze-dried raw dog treats are made from all-natural ingredients dogs love!
Drinks can also pose a threat to your dog’s health, because alcohol and caffeine are very toxic for animals. Keep these common household beverages safely away from your pup:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Coffee & coffee grounds
- Tea that has caffeine
- Energy drinks
- Drinks sweetened with xylitol
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in many different drinks and food products (such as gum and candy) and is very toxic to dogs, so always check labels and don’t leave any human foods or drinks unattended around your dog. Xylitol can also be found in some peanut butter, so dog parents should check the label.
Even though most medications are stored in child-proof containers, that doesn’t always mean those containers are dog-proof as well. And, since most dogs are curious creatures, it’s best to keep any medications out of their reach. Some common examples you might have in your house include:
- Cold medicine & cough drops
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol)
- Allergy medication
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Digestive/Nausea medication
- ADD & ADHD Medicine
- Cardiac medication (beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, anticoagulants & many others)
- Prescription creams/ointments
- Nicotine patches/gum
- Vitamin & mineral supplements
Vitamin pills made for people can be toxic for dogs because they contain high quantities of iron, calcium, and vitamin D. These are fine for dogs in the right amount (like the complete nutrition found in our dog food), but large doses can lead to health problems.
Also remember to lock up any prescription or over-the-counter medications you may have on hand for your dog or other pets!
Household Cleaners & Chemicals
Before you bust out the toilet bowl cleaner, make sure your dog or cat isn’t nearby because this, along with other cleaners and chemicals like bleach, ammonia, chlorine, formaldehyde phenol and isopropyl alcohol, poses a threat to your pet:
- Bathroom & kitchen cleaning sprays/wipes
- Window & glass cleaner
- Floor cleaner
- Oven cleaner
- Laundry detergent
- Fabric softeners (liquid or sheets)
- Car cleaning products
- Paint thinner
- Pool/hot tub chemicals
- Pest bait/poison (for ants, roaches, mice, slugs or snails)
- Air fresheners/Potpourri/Essential oils (check with your veterinarian for safe alternatives)
When possible, avoid doing a deep clean when your dog is around, and ensure that your cleaning products or chemicals have fully dried or been washed away before allowing your pet back into the area. And, as always, be sure to store your cleaners and chemicals in a safe place that your dog cannot access.
Toiletries & Makeup
Some of the items you probably use on a daily basis are things that your dog shouldn’t get their paws on. Toiletries such as toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamin gummies, and lotion may contain Xylitol, which is a common sugar substitute and is usually labeled “sugar alcohol”. This sweetener causes a sudden rush of insulin in your pet’s body, which can cause serious health conditions like seizures, lethargy, liver failure, and potentially death.
Other personal care products that can be toxic to dogs include:
- Petroleum jelly (Vaseline)
- Skin cleansers
- Bug repellent
- Hair growth/removal products containing minoxidil
- Nail polish & remover/nail glue
- Hand sanitizers
- Tea tree oil
Besides the products themselves, many types of grooming and beauty tools can be dangerous if licked, chewed on or eaten by your dog, such as:
- Makeup brushes
- Curling irons
- Cotton swabs
- Dental floss
Be sure to safeguard not only the areas where these items are stored, but the bathroom garbage as well.
Common Household Objects & Toys
Some popular household items and children’s toys can also pose a threat to your dog’s health, including:
- Kids’ toys with small parts
- Christmas tree ornaments
Give your dog their own toys and safe things to chew on so they’re not as tempted to go exploring. Dogs have a natural scavenging instinct, so providing them with plenty of enrichment activities (like a snuffle mat) can also help safely direct their energy.
Plants and Flowers
Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful and common household plants can also be the most deadly to your furry friend if ingested!
The following is a non-exhaustive list of plants that can be toxic to dogs. If you have any of the following plants in your home, be sure to keep them out of reach from your dog or cat:
- Snake Plants
- Jade Plants
Remember that plant-based substances such as tobacco and cannabis products are also dangerous for dogs and should be kept away from them. Cocoa mulch (commonly used outdoors) is also poisonous for dogs if eaten. To learn more about safe plants for your dog, check out our Safe Houseplants for Pets blog!
How Do You Know If Your Dog Ate Something Harmful?
You might find evidence such as a blister pack of pills that’s been chewed on, an empty box of chocolates, or a container of laundry pods spilled on the floor. Other signs that your dog ate something toxic can include:
- Digestive upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, or lack of appetite
- Pale gums, speeding heart rate, listlessness, or fainting
- Sudden changes to thirst & urination habits
- Yellow gums, black colored poop
If you think your dog has eaten something poisonous, try to identify the substance and call your veterinarian, an emergency animal hospital, or animal poison control right away.
Tips for Keeping Toxic Items Away from Your Dog
Taking the time to do some dog-proofing in your home can give you peace of mind. Try these tactics to protect your dog (and your belongings!):
- Install child-proof latches on cabinets and drawers
- Keep toxic items on the highest shelves
- Put trash cans inside latched cabinets
- Don’t leave food or drinks (or wrappers) sitting out
- Keep children’s toys & games in a latched bin or closet
Depending on how big your dog is and how well they jump, you could also install a gate to keep them out of certain rooms, or a fence to keep them away from a garden or pool. Learn more about pet safety around swimming pools. For more helpful tips on how to help your best friend live his best life, check out our blog for the pet obsessed!