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Top 13 Poisons Around Your House

Our pets are commonly and excessively exposed to a variety of both natural and man-made products that can be toxic to our pets.  If your pet ingests or you believe your pet has ingested any of the following, we recommend they be seen and treated immediately.  **Samples of the suspected poison or containers should be brought in with the animal.**

Grapes and Raisins:

They do not appear to be  a problem for all dogs but as few as 4-5 grapes have been seen to be toxic in some animals.  The mechanism of toxicity is unknown at this time.  It would appear to alter blood supply to kidneys.  The danger is that you cannot predict which dogs will be affected. 

Clinical signs: of kidney failure include loss of appetite, vomiting, and dehydration.  Treatment: includes aggressive fluid therapy to support the kidneys. 

Prognosis: depends on how quickly the problem was identified and how rigorously it was treated.  This is a concern for dogs only.

Macadamia Nuts:

The minimum ingestion seen in dogs to cause toxicity is about 1 nut/kg of body weight.  It is associated with weakness, tremors, depression, vomiting, wobbliness, joint swelling and joint pain. 

Clinical signs: usually develop within 24 hours of ingestion of the nuts.  Pets need supportive treatment.  Signs usually resolve in 48 hours. 

Prognosis: is excellent.  This has only been seen in dogs. 


Xylitol is a sucrose substitute found in many sugar-free products.  Dogs can become intoxicated within 60 minutes of ingestion.  Intoxication causes massive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) leading to weakness, collapse, and seizures.  It may also give rise to liver failure.  Immediate

Treatment: which is necessary which includes induction of vomiting, supported by IV fluids. 

Prognosis: depends on the age and size of the dog, how much was ingested and how early aggressive therapy is initiated. 

Sago palms:

This is an ornamental house plant that will cause severe gastrointestinal signs  when ingested which can progress to dehydration and severe liver disease.   

Clinical signs: vomiting, bloody diarrhea.

Treatment: includes IV fluids and supportive care. 

Prognosis: depends on size of the animal, how much was ingested and how long the condition has been going on.  The prognosis can be very guarded.  This toxicity has been documented in both dogs and cats.

Paint Balls:

The paint in the paint ball is not toxic but the ball is made up of sorbitol, gelatin, and structural sugars which is toxic upon ingestion.  Ingestion will lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Clinical signs: dehydration, and diarrhea. 

Treatment: therapy is needed to correct electrolyte imbalances. 

Prognosis: Most dogs recover within 24 hours of treatment. 

Gorilla Glue:

This is a popular woodworking adhesive.  The glue contains polymeric diphenylmethane diisocyanate.  It reacts to form urethane and expands, foams and cures within 15 minutes.  When ingested by animals, we see a rapid increase in the material volume in the confined space of the stomach especially after drinking water. There is an eight-fold increase in the size of the ingested glue in the stomach within 2 hours and causes a stomach blockage.

Clinical signs: animals display belly pain, not eating, vomiting and intense discomfort.  This is diagnosed by x-ray. 

Treatment: abdominal surgery is required to remove the obstruction.


Anticoagulant Rodenticides:

This appears as green or turquoise pellets that interfere with the production of vitamin K dependent clotting factors in the body.  Clotting factors can be depressed from anywhere to 7-28 days. 

Clinical signs: With no clotting factors we see difficulty breathing, lethargy, decreased appetite, hemorrhaging, and prolonged bleeding. 

Treatment: is immediate hospitalization and vitamin k supplementation.  If there is an acute bleeding crisis, a blood transfusion may be necessary. 

Nonanticoagulant Rodenticides:

These contain cholecalciferol and bromethalin to cause a significant increase in calcium which can cause calcification of soft tissues and kidney failure. 

Clinical signs: include vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac abnormalities, kidney changes and neurologic changes.  Sudden increase in drinking, decreases appetite and depression may be noted. 

Treatment: requires immediate, aggressive therapy.  Severe poisonings can lead to muscle tremors, seizures within 24 hours, paralysis and even death. 


Intoxications can result from incorrect dilution, accidental exposure, intentional misuse or hypoallergenic reactions in pets to these products. 

Clinical signs: include vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, muscle tremors, and seizures.  Onset of signs usually occurs within minutes to an hour of toxic exposure.

Ethylene glycol - Antifreeze:

This toxicity has the highest fatality rate of any toxicity.  This substance is commonly found in homes, has a pleasant sweet taste, and requires a very low amount to be a lethal dose. 

Clinical signs: Early signs include vomiting, increase in drinking, increase in urination, and depression.  Later signs may be excessive salivation, not urinating, and oral ulcers.  A blood test can be used to detect ingestion only within the first 24 hours of ingestion. 

Treatment: includes aggressive  and immediate therapy.

Chocolate (also to include "no-doz" or "Vivarin": human caffeine products):

Any amount of ingested chocolate can be toxic however, unsweetened baking chocolate is much more dangerous that milk chocolate

Clinical signs: the primary effect is the buzz of caffeine to lead to muscle contractility, cardiac arrythmias, seizures, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Treatment: includes IV fluids and supportive care.


This is primarily found in pennies, zinc oxide and galvanized metallic hardware.  Pennies from 1983 or later are composed for 96% zinc.  As little as one penny has been reported to be toxic. 

Clinical signs: include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and depression.  Anemia (low red blood cell count) is a consistent finding.  

Treatment: includes inducing vomiting or possible surgery to remove the metal object as well as hospitalization and monitoring.  Abdominal x-rays may be necessary to document the presence of a metal object. 


There are over 100,000 species of spiders and aside from 2 families, all spiders are venomous.  However, not all spiders possess the biting mouth parts necessary to penetrate animal skin.  Spiders are for the most part, not aggressive and prefer dark,  quiet areas with no drafts.  They enter human habitats during cold weather and the vast majority of bites in animals occur from October to March

Clinical signs: include swelling, redness or pain in a particular area.  If this is noted, the pet should be seen and treated.

Over The Counter Drugs:

Naproxen (Aleve):

A very small amount can cause gastrointestinal ulcers and possible kidney and liver disease. 

Clinical signs: include dark bloody stool, vomiting, anemia, and abdominal pain.

Ibuprofen (Motrin):

Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney failure.  Cats are more sensitive and therefore have more severe clinical signs to include seizures, tremors and coma. 

Clinical signs: include anorexia, vomiting, lethargy, and bloody diarrhea.

Acetominophen (Tylenol):

Toxic ingestion can result from a single dose or repeated cumulative doses. Casts are extremely sensitive.  Toxic ingestion causes liver disease and severe oxidative stress to the red blood cells to cause damage of the RBC's and thickening of blood. 

Clinical signs: include weakness, increased rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, and vomiting.


Ingestion can inhibit platelet (cloting factor) aggregation which can lead to an increase in bleeding and iver disease. 

Clinical signs: include weakness, radid breathing, vomiting, and gastrointestinal ulcers. 

Treatment: includes hospitalization and continued monitoring.

Check out a list of toxic foods to pets at


Check out a list of toxic plants to pets at  http://www.earthclinic.com/Pets/poisonous_plants.html