Harmful substances and food

There are many common foods that dogs can’t eat and non-food substances, including plants, which are potentially poisonous. Some of these you’ll know, while others might come as a surprise.

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Reducing the risks to your dog

Here are some tips to help keep your home safe for your dog.

  • Keep cleaning products out of reach. While some may only result in a mild tummy upset, others can cause severe burns to the tongue, mouth and stomach – or even be fatal.
  • Position pesticides in areas your dog can’t access. This applies to rat/mouse baits, ant and cockroach traps, and snail/slug baits.
  • Never give your dog any medications unless under the direction of a vet. Many human medications can be deadly to a dog so please seek advice first before proceeding.
  • Keep medicines out of harm’s way. Ideally, prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs should be securely stored in closed cabinets.
  • Never leave chocolates unattended. Just half an ounce or less of baking chocolate per pound of body weight can cause problems.
  • Be aware of what’s lying around the house. Even everyday household items can be dangerous, like pennies (contain a high concentration of zinc), mothballs, potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, automatic dish detergents (contain cationic detergents which could cause corrosive lesions), batteries (contain acids or alkali which can also cause corrosive lesions), homemade play dough (contains high quantity of salt), hand/foot warmers (contain high levels of iron), cigarettes, ground coffee and alcoholic drinks.
  • Car products are deadly for dogs. Keep oil, petrol and antifreeze out of harm’s way – even the slightest amount of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) could prove fatal.
  • Check flea treatments before use. Ask your vet to recommend a flea product suitable for your dog, and make sure you follow the instructions on the label. If you’re uncertain about the usage of a product, contact the manufacturer or your vet for directions.
  • Keep your dog out of the way when using fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides. Make sure they stay away from the area until it has dried completely, and always store the products safely away from your dog.
  • Be mindful of pollutants. These include fumes from cleaning products, pesticides, paints and varnishes, and also microbial and fungal agents found in air conditioners, air ducts, filters and humidifiers.
  • Take care when removing lead paint. Ingesting lead can cause vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, loss of appetite or muscle co-ordination, blindness and even seizures. Be sure to keep items containing lead, such as lead-based paint, linoleum and caulking compounds, out of the way.
  • Be aware of plants in your house and in your garden. Ingesting a poisonous plant can be fatal for your dog. See below for more information

Plants which may be poisonous to dogs

It goes without saying, it’s incredibly important to know which plants may potentially cause harm to your dog. To help, we’ve created the list below. Please note that while it is thorough, it is not exhaustive. Remember to keep a watchful eye on your dog if you have these plants in your home or garden, and consider whether to remove them.

  • Aloe vera
  • Apple (seeds)
  • Apricot (pit)
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Cherry (seeds and wilting leaves)
  • Daffodil
  • Easter Lily
  • Elephant Ears
  • English Ivy, Poison Ivy, Devil's Ivy and other Ivies
  • Foxglove
  • Geranium
  • Marijuana
  • Narcissus
  • Oleander
  • Oriental Lily
  • Peach (wilting leaves and pits)
  • Primrose
  • Rhododendron
  • Tomato plant (green fruit, stem and leaves)
  • Yew
  • Amaryllis
  • Azalea
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Clematis
  • Cyclamen
  • Eucalyptus
  • Indian rubber plant
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Mistletoe
  • Nightshade
  • Onion
  • Peace Lily
  • Poinsettia (low toxicity)
  • Swiss cheese plant
  • Tiger Lily
  • Weeping Fig

Further information

The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is an internationally renowned poisons information service based in London. Although their experts only handle direct enquiries from vets (not pet owners), the VPS website does provide lots of useful information. If you have any concerns about any potential toxins your dog may have ingested, you should always speak with your vet first to obtain advice and guidance.

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