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Household Items That Can Harm Your Dog or Cat

Household Items That Can Harm Your Dog or Cat

These 25 items may seem ordinary, but keep them away from cats, canines and other animal companions

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Many new parents baby-proof their homes carefully when a child is on the way, locking up medicines and cleaners, and carefully padding sharp furniture. But our pets need special consideration as well when it comes to basic home items. Useful supplies that may seem innocent to humans can sicken or even kill a pet if consumed. And before you think your sweet Mittens would never do such a thing, the truth is: They don’t know better. 

A representative of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals helped The Active Times compile 25 household items that could hurt your pet. Check the list and make sure that if you have these things, they’re safely out of reach.

Aspirin

Aspirin

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Most people have simple painkillers such as aspirin on hand to alleviate mild ailments like a headache. There may even be times when a vet prescribes small doses for your animals. In any case, it’s important to keep meds safely locked away. Adverse reactions to aspirin are relatively common in dogs and can cause vomiting, coma or even death.

Fabric softener

Fabric softener

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Dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener may help rid your clothes of static and smell good, but they’re not for pets. Be sure to store these high up out of your animals’ reach with a trusty home organizing hack because they could cause anything from mouth ulcers to seizures.

Batteries

Batteries

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Batteries help run everything from remote controls to robot toys. But don’t let your pets chew on batteries, whether they’re loose or snapped into a remote. Swallowing or chewing on a battery can cause it to leak alkaline or acidic material, which can cause mouth pain or perforate an intestine.

Fly bait

Fly bait

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Houseflies can be a major nuisance, and some homeowners go beyond the swatter to rid them. Fly bait, a chemical mix used to attract and kill flies, can be attractive to your pets too. An article from Science Magazine tells of a dog that collapsed after lapping fly killer from a pie pan in a neighbor’s barn.

Vitamins

Vitamins

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According to the ASPCA, 52% of Americans take dietary supplements and 31% take a daily multivitamin or mineral, but what’s good for your health may be deadly for your pet. Keep those vitamins stored out of reach just as you would prescription medicine. The ASPCA notes that while any vitamin can be a problem if pets eat it, iron and vitamin D can cause a dangerous reaction even if only a small amount is ingested.

Mothballs

Mothballs

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They may be falling out of favor, but older generations are familiar with the use of mothballs, which are used to repel pests or insects that like to chew clothing and fabric. This treatment is a foe of furry friends. A single mothball can poison a dog.

Balloons

Balloons

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Balloons have long been a colorful, lively part of celebrations, but the party could be over quickly if your pet ingests one. They may be drawn in by the shiny, bouncy shape, but if a curious animal eats a popped balloon, the nylon, latex or Mylar it’s made of will not break down in the stomach and may cause dangerous blockages. Balloon strings, too, can be tempting and cause stomach issues if eaten.

Confetti

Confetti

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Colorful confetti may seem a harmless way to celebrate, but it may not be worth it. Devoured confetti can lodge in a pet’s intestines and could require surgery to be removed.

Chocolate

Chocolate

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From candy bars to molded Easter bunnies, humans love their chocolate. But chocolate and cocoa contain caffeine and theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant, and both are toxic to household pets. Dark, milk, unsweetened, baking and white chocolate should all be kept safely away from animals.

Cooked bones

Cooked bones

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When Thanksgiving dinner is over, it might be tempting to toss a drumstick bone to your faithful pooch. Resist that urge. Cooked bones can splinter and cause intestinal issues, leading to an emergency vet visit. This goes for fish, chicken, pork and beef bones too. Fragments can pierce your dog’s stomach and cause a bacterial infection, constipation and bleeding as your pooch tries to pass them. Instead, offer a raw meat bone and, when it’s not being chewed, don't store it wrong and keep it in the fridge for up to four days before tossing.

Fake Easter basket grass

Fake Easter basket grass

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Plastic Easter grass is a staple of some families’ holiday, decorating the base of a basket piled high with candy and toys. If you have pets, you may want to rethink this hazard. Plastic grass can’t be digested once your pet accidentally snacks on some, and it could cause intestinal damage and eventual perforation.

Candles

Candles

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Pets eat the weirdest things, candles included. Whether it’s a tea light or a giant scented pillar candle, they're great for taking "me time," but keep them away from your pets. Unscented candle wax usually isn’t a problem, but many candles are imbued with scents that may be toxic. The candle itself could also contain metal or long wicks that can damage a pet’s insides.

Holiday lights

Holiday lights

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Pets can suffer electric shock if they chew on light strands over the holidays, so keep yours from dangling where your animals can reach them. The younger the animal, the more tempted they are to chew on whatever is in sight, so households with puppies and kittens need to be especially careful. 

Tinsel

Tinsel

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Just as with lights, Christmas tree tinsel can brighten up a holiday for humans, yet pose dangers to their pets. Cats, who are well-known for loving string, can be especially susceptible to chewing tinsel and may end up with an intestinal obstruction. You may be looking for a toy your cat will actually play with, but it's not this.

Easter lilies

Easter lilies

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Lovely Easter lilies are a common springtime holiday gift, but they aren’t edible for pets. Easter lilies contain toxins that can result in kidney failure if eaten by cats. While dogs don’t have that same scary reaction, they could experience adverse side effects if a large amount is eaten.

Raw bread dough

Raw bread dough

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Home baking is a wonderful hobby even for an amateur baker, and the smell of fresh bread is hard to resist, but bakers need to keep a close watch on that dough as it’s rising. If a pet eats unbaked dough, it can rise inside their stomachs, and fermenting alcohol from the yeast can cause alcohol poisoning, which could lead to seizures and respiratory failure.

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts

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Macadamia nuts are a tasty snack and an OK way for humans to get more protein, but keep them far from the reach of dogs. When eaten, macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, weakness, hyperthermia and other symptoms.

Coffee

Coffee

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Most people know somebody whose most important meal of the day is coffee — be it a latte, cappuccino, macchiato or the like — but it’s important to keep pets away from your morning joe. If dogs or cats ingest enough, the caffeine in coffee can lead to illness and even death.

Alcohol

Alcohol

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It may be five o’clock somewhere, but it’s never happy hour for your pet. Fortunately, pets aren’t usually attracted to your leftover wine or margarita dregs, but should they decide to drink up from your favorite cocktail, they could get alcohol poisoning and need to be rushed to the vet. Keep their water bowls filled and the adult beverages safely out of reach.

Mistletoe and holly

Mistletoe and holly

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As with some other holiday decor, rethink this one if you have pets. Holly can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested, and mistletoe can lead to stomach woes and cardiovascular problems. Try artificial versions instead — no one at your party will know and it's a life hack every cat owner should know.

Ribbons on gifts

Ribbons on gifts

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Pretty ribbons and bright bows can make holiday, birthday or wedding gifts look extra special, but don’t let your pets help you unwrap or play with debris left after a gift-opening session. Colorful ribbons may look like toys to cats and dogs, but if eaten, can cause vomiting and serious intestinal damage.

De-icing salts

De-icing salts

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If you live in a snowy climate, ice melts can be a lifesaver for frozen sidewalks and steps, but some pets, especially dogs, may enjoy the salty taste of these products. Depending on the product’s specific ingredients, dogs may suffer mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea and other issues.

Milk

Milk

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One of the coziest images of cathood is a furry feline lapping a dish of milk, but in truth, they shouldn’t have it. Yes, kittens drink their mother’s milk, but grown cats usually lose the ability to digest lactose, and giving them cow’s milk may cause gastrointestinal distress. Dogs shouldn’t have milk either, because it could lead to diarrhea, vomiting and loose stools. All creatures need plenty of water, so keep their bowl full of H2O instead.

Peanut butter with xylitol

Peanut butter with xylitol

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Peanut butter seems innocent, and people often use it as a treat for good boys, but you need to make sure the ingredients list does not contain the sugar substitute xylitol. Even a small amount can be fatal to a dog. Xylitol can also be found in sugar-free gums, candy and throat lozenges. Believe it or not, peanut butter isn’t the only thing you need to keep an eye out for. If you’re snacking around the house and your dog begs for a bite, don’t give him any of these common foods you might not know can harm your pet.

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