Three Household Items That Can Kill Your Pet

May 21, 2014 | By More




Scary title but unfortunately so incredibly true.  The items in and around our homes are killing our pets.  In fact, last year alone the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center received over 180,000 calls regarding pets and potential toxic substances.    180,000!  And those are just the calls they received.  How about the number of pets seen by local veterinarians and emergency vets each and every day?  The numbers have to be astonishing.

Dr. Kristy Layton, owner of Timberlane Pet Hospital and Resort in Plant City, FL sees two or three poisonings or potential poisonings a month.  And, Dr. Laurel Kaddatz, owner of Pound Ridge Veterinary Center in New York said in his interview with The North American Veterinarian Community website that in one month his practice lost three dogs to accidental ibuprofen and Tylenol poisoning.  Three deaths, by over the counter medications, in one practice.

In this article, I will introduce you to three common products that most of us have in our house and three dogs that came close to losing their lives because of them.

Ibuprofen, Xylitol and Chocolate vs. Hazel, Murphy and Luca

Pet Poison

Hazel, sick and losing weight from ibuprofen poisening

Ibuprofen– Carrie C. is all too familiar with ibuprofen poisoning.  Her dog Hazel, a Labrador, ingested ibuprofen after rummaging through her husband’s work bag and finding it in a baggie at the bottom.  Hazel took the small bag full of meds to her crate and ate what was inside.

Ibuprofen is toxic to dogs and even more so for cats.  It is a non steroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID) that comes in many strengths and in both brand and prescription form.  Common brands are:  Advil, Midol and Motrin.

The peer reviewed toxicology brief “Ibuprofen Toxicosis in Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets” written by Eric Dunayer, MS, VMD, lists the following symptoms:

Ibuprofen Dosages and Associated Signs/Outcomes:

25–125 mg/kg- Vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, anorexia

> 175 mg/kg- All of the above plus hematemesis, melena, polyuria or polydipsia, oliguria, uremia, acute renal failure

> 400 mg/kg- All of the above plus seizures, ataxia, coma, shock

> 600 mg/kg- Death

Hazel’s symptoms included constant drinking and urination, lethargy, and she had stopped eating.  After two vet visits (including an overnight stay), flushing her system multiple times and on the brink of kidney failure, Hazel’s strong will to live and the team of veterinarians were able to pull her through.

Pet Poison

Murphy- ingested half a pack of sugar free gum

Xylitol (Sugar Free Gum)– Not familiar with this ingredient?  Neither was Sara O. until the day her dog Murphy snatched a pack of sugar free gum out of her purse and proceeded to eat half the pack.  Sara, a new pet mom, immediately began searching the web to see if sugar free gum was harmful to dogs.  She soon learned about Xylitol and its toxic effect on pets.

This all natural sweetener is used in sugar free gum, oral rinse, mints, toothpaste and some foods.  According to the Pet Poison Helpline, ingestion of > .1 gram/kg of Xylitol can cause an acute, life threatening low blood sugar in under 15 minutes.  Consuming more than that can cause liver necrosis and liver failure.

Signs of Xylitol Poisoning

Black Tarry Stool





Read more symptoms here.

Sara immediately contacted her vet who instructed her to feed Murphy Hydrogen Peroxide and rush him to the office.  She did and Murphy is ok.  Sara says, “I now have a magnet on my fridge that includes a long list of items that are toxic or harmful to dogs. I’m learning!”

Luca ate too many FannieMae Pixies for his 4lb body to tolerate

Luca ate too many FannieMae Pixies for his 4lb body to tolerate

Chocolate– We probably hear the most about chocolate and its toxic effect on pets.  It is such a popular problem, that the Pet Poison Helpline lists chocolate as topping the charts in call volume.  Dr. Kristy Layton recommends that “Chocolate is never kept out because it is a rare dog that can resist the sweet smell of chocolate.”

Noelle P. learned this the hard way when her toddler took a box of Fannie Mae Pixies out of the cabinet and fed them to her 4lb Yorkie, Luca.  After many texts and phone calls with me and Luca’s veterinarian, Luca paid a visit to the vet where he remained overnight.  Normal heart rate for a dog his size is 60-80 and Luca’s was 220.  He made it through the night and Noelle feels that they all learned a scary, valuable lesson.

Milk chocolate is the least toxic and Baker’s chocolate the most. says that less than 1 oz of Milk Chocolate per pound of body weight could be deadly and less than .1 oz of Baker’s chocolate per pound of body weight could be lethal.

Signs of Chocolate Poisoning


Elevated Heart Rate



Read More Symptoms Here

A good rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate the more caffeine and theobromine it contains making it all the more toxic.


Luca, Hazel and Murphy- Three healthy, happy dogs

Luca, Hazel and Murphy- Three healthy, happy dogs

Good news though.  With expert veterinary care and loving pet parents all three of the dogs mentioned above made it.  Unfortunately, not all are so lucky.

I simply discussed three of the most common toxins but there are many many more.

Check out this list of the ASPCA’s Top Pet Toxins of 2013.

And, this list from Pet Poison Helpline.

Dr. Christy Layton says to veer on the side of being overly cautious in regards to medications and other toxins in your home.  Be diligent, have everything put away and cabinets locked if necessary.  Dr. Layton also recommends knowing the plants in your yard and their toxicity threat.

Carrie G. (Hazel’s mom) sends this message to pet parents: ” Go to the vet immediately if your pet ingests something they shouldn’t. I also think it is important to educate yourself on common toxic substances for your pet. I had no idea how toxic ibuprofen could be. I have been so surprised at so many friends of mine that have said they had no idea ibuprofen was toxic and some had said that they had given it to their dogs in the past for pain. I am so thankful that we still have Hazel as part of our family. It was a very scary and heart wrenching experience. I only hope that we save other pets and their parents the same awful experience by sharing ours.”

Thank you to Carrie, Sara and Noelle for sharing their stories and to Dr. Christy Layton for her expertise.  My hope is that this information will keep your pet’s safe and might prevent pet poisoning in your household!

Love those pets!











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Category: Pet Health, PET WELLNESS, Safety

About the Author ()

Jenn Fadal is a national Pet Wellness & Lifestyle Expert. In addition to being the founder of her own holistic pet boutique, Wag, this Tampa native can be seen frequently on Media General’s Daytime Television across the country, as well as on FOX, NBC and ABC. She is also a writer and subject matter expert for various publications.

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