The Top Dangers For Pets

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Your pets are members of your family. Just like small children, they sometimes get into things they shouldn't, and come to harm through household products that seem innocent, but hold hidden dangers. Just as you childproof your home to protect your children, you should pet-proof your living areas to safeguard your pets. Look at your home through your pet's eyes, and consider any dangerous scenarios you can avoid. Think about hazardous items your pet might consider interesting or tasty. Get down at your pet's eye level, and look for risks you might overlook, but are easily spotted by a cat or small dog. The following discussion of common household dangers will help you in making your home a pet-friendly space.


Many common houseplants are poisonous to a pet that decides to take a nibble. Dogs are less likely to bother plants, but many cats are attracted to greenery, and will chew or even completely eat houseplants. Keep plants safely out of the reach of your pets, especially away from your cat. If you have a kitty that enjoys nibbling on greens, think about providing a small pot of sprouts specifically for your cat's enjoyment. The following are some of the most common poisonous houseplants, but there are many others.

  • Aloe Vera
  • Boston ivy
  • Caladium
  • Dumbcane
  • English ivy
  • German ivy
  • India rubber plant
  • Philodendron
  • Poinsettias
  • Weeping fig
Ready for Planting Finished Product



Rover is hard to resist when he gazes at your sandwich with pleading eyes, but many foods that humans enjoy are dangerous to pets. Effects can range from mild digestive upset to shock or even death. It is best to reserve human food for your family, and keep pets on a diet designed for their specific nutritional needs. The following are a few foods that are harmful for your pets:

  • Avocados
  • Cherry pits
  • Candy - particularly chocolate, which is toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets, and any candy containing the sweetener Xylitol
  • Coffee - grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans
  • Grapes
  • Human medications - pain relievers, prescriptions, vitamins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mushroom plants
  • Onions and onion powder
  • Raisins
  • Tea - caffeine
  • Walnuts

Trash Containers

Trash cans also pose a danger, as the tempting scent of scraps of food and garbage can attract your pet. Not only can your pet eat trash that might be toxic, but many items in the trash are choking hazards. Keep trash containers safely locked under the sink, in a cabinet, or use containers with tight fitting lids. Of particular concern in the trash are the following:

  • Bones - these can splinter, and are a choking hazard
  • Cans with food residue - pets can get their head stuck, or be cut on sharp edges
  • Fat trimmings
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Glass
  • Moldy food
  • Pits from fruit
  • Plastic wrap - food residue will attract a pet, and plastic wrap can cause choking
  • Tin foil

Chemicals/Cleaning Products

Many chemical products around the house are dangerous to pets. Always use caution in storing cleaning products, chemicals used for yard or pool care, automotive supplies or any other household products. Keep these in a closed cabinet, in the garage, or another area inaccessible to your pet. Be especially cautious with these:

  • Antifreeze containing ethylene glycol
  • Cocoa mulch - the chocolate smell attracts pets
  • De-icing salts - this is an irritant to paw pads
  • Fertilizers or plant food
  • Human medications
  • Insecticides for home or garden
  • Rat poison or traps
  • Snail or slug bait
  • Toilet bowl cleaners

Small Objects/Choking Hazards

Pets can also get into trouble when they try to eat small, non-edible objects. Just like a human baby, everything goes into a pet's mouth, and dogs are especially likely to sample some strange items around the house. Be particularly careful with the following items:

  • Batteries
  • Beads or other small craft items
  • Coins, especially pennies
  • Holiday decorations or lights - choking hazard as well as possibility of electrical shock
  • Rubber bands
  • Small balls or toys - never let your dog play with a ball small enough to swallow
  • Socks
  • String
  • Tinsel - cats often eat tinsel, and it can damage their digestive system

Pets bring so much joy into our lives. To keep your furry companion safe, follow the same basic safety measures you would use with a baby or toddler. You will keep your pet out of trouble, out of the veterinarian's office, and ensure your pet continues to be a loved member of the family for years to come.

Last Updated: July 23, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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