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Household items that could be harmful to your dog

It’s pretty horrible to think about, but some household items that are harmless for humans could be deadly for your dog. You probably already know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but there are a range of ‘unsuspected’ household items like small toys and socks that can be extremely dangerous and costly if your dog ingests them.

Understanding what these potentially hazardous household items can help you take steps to protect your pet.

1. Regular house and garden plants

Sure, it’s a treat to keep flowers in and around your home, but there can be dangers lurking within their petals.

The list of flowers that are toxic to dogs is long – and we mean long. Lillies, daffodils, hyacinths, wisteria, buttercups, azaleas… there are dozens of dangerous plants to avoid.

This doesn’t mean you can’t keep flowers inside or grow a beautiful garden. Just choose non-toxic plants or, if you have potentially toxic plants/flowers, make sure your dog can’t get into them! A few ideas to keep them out include:

  • Putting up netting or a sturdy cage over outdoor flowers that are toxic to dogs;
  • Keeping vases in places your dog can’t easily get to; and
  • Promptly clearing away any dead petals/leaves that have fallen off.

2. Everyday human foods

More often than not, pets need no invitation to put something in their mouths. And unfortunately for dogs, they metabolise lots of ‘human foods’ differently to us. The good news is that with pet insurance you can potentially save yourself lots of financial stress if your pet requires emergency hospitalisation from ingesting something toxic. But, as always, prevention is better than cure!

Just a few of the most dangerous foods for dogs include:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Fruit stones
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener often found in chewing gum)
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Uncooked dough
  • Corn cobs

If you know that your dog has ingested something toxic, contact your vet immediately. Your vet may be able to induce vomiting to reduce the amount of toxicity ingested and may provide supportive therapy in hospital.

If your dog displays symptoms of toxicity like vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, shaking, restlessness, trouble breathing or seizures, then they may have ingested something they shouldn’t have. If this is the case, again it’s important to contact your vet immediately so that your dog can be provided with the care they need.

3. Items lying around the house

Sometimes it’s an item hiding in plain sight that can cause an unexpected visit to the vet.

Medication should be stored in a safe cabinet – preferably locked or with a latch – and high up enough so that a curious pet can’t figure out a way to get into it. The same goes for cleaning products, alcohol-based solutions, rodent, snail/slug and other poisons and fly sprays – keep any dangerous products somewhere your dog won’t be able to reach them.

Even your hand creams and face ointments could be a potential poison! Often these products contain Vitamin D which is poisonous to dogs. If your dog displays symptoms such as convulsions, vomiting, diarrhoea, or an abnormal heart rhythm, it’s best to contact your vet immediately.

Also be wary of regular items that could be a choking hazard for a playful pet. Socks, string, small toys like Lego and even chipped wood off a door or furniture could get lodged in your pet’s throat and cause asphyxiation.

As pet owners, we all want our pet to enjoy a safe and happy lifestyle at home. So, with a little know-how and responsible pet parenting, you can remove any potentially harmful items from your household and ensure your dog is safe at home.

We can’t always be prepared for the unexpected, but we can be prepared against expensive emergency vet visits with the right pet insurance policy.

Image of Dr Rosemary Elliot

Dr Rosemary Elliot 

Dr Rosemary studied veterinary science at the University of Sydney after having established her career as a clinical psychologist, and has qualifications of BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Animal Welfare), MPsych (Clin), BA (Hons) as well as previously establishing her career as a clinical psychologist. Her experiences during veterinary training fostered an ambition to focus directly on animal welfare and ethics, with a particular interest in animal sentience and the human-animal bond. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Rosemary combines her psychology background and veterinary skills to contribute to and promote animal welfare, and regularly contributes quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance's Pet Care blog.