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Five Sources of Household Poisons for Dogs

Dog-proofing the house is not as straightforward as it seems. Things that are obvious hazards are easy, but dogs see opportunities for fun or snacking in in places and objects that we don’t see as interesting – or edible.

Since Pet Poison Prevention is a popular topic this month, let’s talk about some sources of toxins for dogs that most of us might leave lying around the house.

Any medication can cause problems if taken in too high a quantity, but there are some human medications that are especially toxic to dogs. This includes common pain killers like acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories(NSAIDs like Advil, Aleve, Motrin, etc.), antidepressants, sleep aids, medications for blood pressure, heart conditions, and thyroid problems, and so on.

Paints and varnishes
Not only are paints and varnishes poisonous if swallowed, the fumes are also toxic and can cause aspiration pneumonia.

Xylitol is a natural substance that is often used as a substitute for sugar in things like gum, mints, packaged baked goods, pudding snacks, toothpaste, and a multitude of other household products. It is extremely toxic to dogs, even in small amounts.

Grapes and raisins
Grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs, causing kidney failure, although scientists don’t really know why. It is easy to forget about the raisins in baked goods, cereals and granola, and snacks like trail mix, and since the reason that they’re poisonous is not known, neither is the amount they’d have to eat to be poisoned.

Zinc is an essential diet element for pets and people, and it’s found naturally in some food and mineral sources. But zinc is also used in many common household products and metal items… and too much zinc can cause serious health problems for a dog.

You’ll find zinc in four main categories around the house:

  • Metal items such as nuts, bolts, zippers, toys, staples and many other common items
  • Skin creams (diaper rash cream, sunscreen, etc.), shampoos, deodorants
  • Vitamins and over-the-counter cold remedies and lozenges
  • U.S. pennies (pennies minted after 1982 contain a high level of zinc)


Leaving change around is so easy to do, and maybe your dog doesn’t typically eat strange things. But pennies are one of the most dangerous items containing zinc, and a single penny can cause life-threatening poisoning in a dog.


Poison Prevention

Most pet poisonings are preventable with a little effort:

  • Store medications behind doors, in drawers, or anywhere your dog can’t get to or chew through. Remember to put them away promptly after taking them so your curious pooch doesn’t find them on the counter.
  • Store your medications away from your dog’s medications. You don’t ever want to accidentally mix up those bottles.
  • Remember your bag – if you carry medication, gum, candy, snacks, or money, store your purse or laptop bag in a closet when you’re home.
  • Toss your change in a drawer instead of a table, or otherwise keep it well out of reach.
  • Keep your dog away whenever you are using paints, varnishes or household chemicals. Keep the area where you’re working well ventilated, too, so the fumes are cleared out before your dog comes back in the area.


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