What You Shouldn’t Feed Your Animals, or a Big List of Poisonous Foods, Household Toxins, and Plants

While at the vet clinic yesterday morning, a lovely woman brought in her six-month-old dog. He had been fine up until that morning, being a dog and doing normal puppy things, but suddenly he’d started wandering around, bumping into things. He didn’t act like he could see much, and as a result, he was moving less and less. What was happening? After running some tests, several consultations between multiple veterinarians, and the owner’s trip to the garage to find out if anything looked like it had been eaten by a curious puppy, it came about that the pup had gotten into Ivermectin, a pour-on cattle wormer. Ranches are lousy with all manner of organic and chemical necessities, and it got me to thinking–and worrying–what else a curious animal might find if it went looking.

Human Food That Is Not Really Good for Animals

Many of us, myself included, are known to give dogs treats from the table. However, just because people can eat something does not mean that your pet should. Here is a short list of human food that your pet should not be given:

  • Alcoholic beverages (for those of you that think it amusing to give your dog a beer, knock it off)
  • Avocados
  • Bones (both chicken and turkey bones are bad for pets as they can easily get wedged in the GI tract)
  • Chocolate (all forms)
  • Coffee (all forms)
  • Fatty foods, but most especially pork fat
  • Ice-melting products
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Moldy or spoiled foods (Rule of thumb: if you won’t eat it, that doesn’t mean that your dog should)
  • Onions or onion powder
  • Raisins or grapes
  • Salt
  • Yeast dough
  • Garlic
  • Xylitol-sweetened products (xylitol is a sweetener often found in chewing gum and candies)

Common Household Poisons

Cleaning-supply closets, tool sheds, garages, barns, bathrooms, medicine cabinets, and even that cabinet under the sink are notorious places in which we all stash the not-so-nice aspects of being human. This is a list of common household poisons that you not let your pet touch or ingest:

  • Ant and roach baits
  • Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol
  • Batteries (this includes car batteries as well as disposable batteries)
  • Bleach
  • Fertilizer, including plant foods
  • Homeopathic products of unknown use (Nux Vomica, sometimes used as a physic, is better known as strychnine)
  • Hydrocarbons (paints, polishes, and fuel oils)
  • Illegal human drugs (meth, heroine, cocaine, marijuana. If you can get arrested for possessing it, selling it, or imbibing it, it’s not good for pets. Period.)
  • Legal animal drugs (Ivomec)
  • Legal human drugs, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine
  • Rodenticides (rat or mouse killer)
  • Salt (driveway salt used to melt and clear ice can burn your pet’s foot pads)

Common Household Plants That Are Poisonous to Pets

Plants often smell nice, soften a room, and add a decorative touch when needed. This table provides a list of common household plants that are poisonous to pets, including the common name, a picture of the plant, and the plant’s Latinate name.

Plant Name Latinate Name
Azalea/Rhododendron Rhododendron Tsutsuji or Rhododendron Pentanthera
Castor Bean Ricinus communis
Cyclamen Cyclamen hederifolium
Kalanchoe Kalanchoe beharensis
Lilies Lilium
Marijuana CannabisAuthor’s note: No, marijuana is not often a common household plant (although it might be a bit more common, depending what part of the country you’re living in. However, this section is the most likely place for marijuana, common or not).
Oleander Nerium oleander
Sago Palm Cycas revoluta
Tulip/Narcissus bulbs Tulipa gesneriana
Yew Taxus baccata

You should also be mindful of rocks and sticks. Many dogs like to pick either or both up, and it is far too easy for a dog to choke as these items can easily become wedged in the esophagus.

Keys to Successful Treatment

Okay, so what do you do if you suspect that your pet got into one of the above toxins or poisons? Use this procedural list to gather the necessary information to help your veterinarian treat your pet effectively.

  1. Do not panic. Stay calm and gather as much information as possible regarding the incident.
  2. Find the poison. Determine the poison to which the pet was exposed.
  3. Determine how much. Determine the amount of the poison the animal ingested or was exposed to by other means.
  4. Determine how long. Determine the time frame during which the exposure to the poison occurred.
  5. Denote the time. Write down the time at which signs of poisoning first appeared.
  6. Gather it all together. Collect the poison’s container and packaging. This will help your veterinarian determine possible courses of treatment.
  7. Contact your veterinarian. As clearly and as succinctly as possible, describe the poison situation to your veterinarian or veterinary technician. If you do need to go into the vet clinic, make certain to take all of the above information with you.

With this important data, your veterinarian can treat the poison and its effects rather than running a battery of tests in the hopes of determining what poison your animal ingested. This is especially helpful as while some poisons are distinct and easy to determine, others are much more subtle and difficult to ascertain.

Long-Term Fixes

Now that you know what to foods, plants, and substances to avoid, what should you do in order to avoid this happening altogether? Use these steps to help minimize the possibility of your pets ingesting poisons.

  1. Install child locks on cabinets that contain known poisons. Pets, especially when young, are curious and nosy and like to snoop, so it is unfortunately all too common that they get into nasty substances. Child locks on cabinets do more than just protect your children–they also protect your pet!
  2. Keep known poisons high up on shelves and cabinets. This will remove the temptation for dogs to sniff and sample what they find. But remember, cats like to perch, so even items kept up high need to be safely contained against feline intruders.
  3. If you have young children and you have dogs, be mindful of what the child is spilling or throwing on the floor for the dog to slurp up. Make good choices!

And as for the puppy that got into the Ivermectin, I’m thrilled to report that her eyesight returned! She’s a very lucky girl, but not all animals are so fortunate. We’re hopeful that this type of list helps to ensure that we don’t see this type of case at all.

Author’s note: This post was written with the help of several veterinarians and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s