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Household Chemicals Toxic to Dogs

Many items that we use every day in our homes can be dangerous and poisonous to our furry companions. Without knowing what they are, we can be putting our dogs in danger of severe illness, even death. The following is a partial list of substances that should be kept far from the reach of our dogs and other neighborhood animals.

Antifreeze, containing ethylene glycol, produces increased thirst and urination, vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, panting, loss of appetite, acute kidney failure and possibly death. As little as 2 ounces of anti-freeze can prove fatal to a medium-sized dog within 24 to 48 hours. If you suspect your pet has lapped up any antifreeze at all, consider this a veterinary emergency and get her to your veterinarian immediately.

Because of the theobromine, a type of stimulant found in cacao shells, cocoa bean mulch can be toxic to your dog if ingested. It results in restlessness, hyperactivity, panting, vomiting and diarrhea, irregular heart beat, seizures, coma and eventual death if enough is eaten. 

DEET, or N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, found in insect repellents, was originally developed by the US Army as a pesticide to use during jungle warfare. It can cause tremors, over excitement, vomiting, and seizures if your dog eats any of it. It can also cause skin irritation if it gets on your pet’s coat and skin.

Acids and alkalis, such as those found in bleach, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners,  and batteries, can result in burns on your dog’s tongue and gums, drooling, holes in the esophagus, stomach, and intestinal tract, severe abdominal pain, sepsis, and eventual death. You need to keep these products locked safely away from both pets and children.

Citrus oils, such as linalool and limonene, found in candles, mosquito deterrents, and room fresheners, produce weakness, drooling, tremors, depression, ataxia (the inability to walk correctly), low blood pressure, fevers and possible death.

Human pain medications, including aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, should never be fed to dogs, unless recommended by a veterinarian. This includes products containing those medicines, including stomach gas reducers and certain antacids. These medicines trigger loss of appetite, bloody vomit, drooling, stomach ulcers, intense pain and drunken behavior.

Petroleum products, including gas, motor oil, kerosene, turpentine, paint thinner, and lighter fluid, result in tremors, breathing problems, coma, seizures, vomiting, respiratory failure and even death if not treated promptly after you dog ingests them. The old farmer’s remedy of treating mange with motor oil has long been proven ineffective, and can also kill your dog.

Mothballs, containing the chemicals naphthalene and dichlorobenene, are toxic to your dog, and if ingested, cause serious illness. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, damage to the liver, blood cells, and kidneys, brain swelling, seizures, coma, and even death. If your dog eats mothballs, you should consider this a veterinary emergency and seek immediate veterinary care.

Other toxins found in your home that can make you pet ill or even cause death include lawn fertilizers, the lead found in paint and golf balls (also responsible for intestinal obstructions), pine oils found in cleaning products, poisonous pest baits manufactured with arsenic, warfarin, and strychnine, and pennies made after 1982 that contain large amounts of zinc.

Note: If you suspect your pet has eaten any of these products or chemicals, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.