Things You May Not Have Known Were Poison to Your Pet

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We all love sharing things with our pets, but we think the best things to share with them are experiences and not foods! Pet nutrition is an important part of pet ownership, and knowing the things that can be toxic to our furry family is paramount, especially when they like eating things they shouldn’t. The third week of March is National Poison Prevention Week, so in anticipation of that we’re going to give you a short primer on things around the house which may be poison to your pet. Read on!

Chocolate and Coffee

Most pet owners already know this, but we wouldn’t feel good going on without reiterating this fact. Cocoa-based products are the items most commonly involved in food poisoning in pets, causing anything from mild problems such as tummy aches to seizures and death. While we’re past the holiday season when most of these poisonings happen, it’s still good to be vigilant throughout the year.

Chocolate contains two compounds that are toxic to pets: theobromine and caffeine. These compounds alter cellular processes and result in the stimulation of both the central nervous system and heart muscles. Depending on the type of chocolate (dark chocolate has more theobromine than lighter chocolate), one small piece can be enough to make a small dog sick. Coffee has caffeine, of course, and coffee grounds can contain more than enough coffee to make the average dog sick.

Most symptoms will manifest within 2 to 4 hours after ingesting the chocolate or coffee, and will typically include restlessness, incontinence, and vomiting. Getting your pet treatment as soon as possible is of paramount importance once you notice these symptoms happening.


There are lots of jokes that are made about this popular millennial food, but the fact of the matter is avocados are poisonous to almost every animal except for humans. Avocado contains a natural antifungal substance known as persin, which has been demonstrated to cause heart muscle and mammary gland necrosis in various species. While cats and dogs haven’t been known to exhibit well-documented side effects, other less-common pets such as horses, rabbits, mice, sheep, and other domesticated animals have exhibited symptoms after the repeated consumption of avocado. Birds in particular seem to be incredibly susceptible to avocado poisoning. Symptoms include weakness, depression, and respiratory issues.

Grapes and raisins

Continuing with fruits that may be toxic to our pets, grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants in both raw and cooked forms (including those found in snack bars and baked goods) have been reported to cause kidney failure in dogs. However, not all dogs have the same reactions to these foods, according to research. While results may be inconclusive, it’s simply smarter to not risk it: Dogs that develop symptoms may show signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, and abdominal pain within 24 hours of ingesting the grape products. In some cases, dogs have died after eating just a handful of grapes.

Aloe Vera

Moving on to household plants, aloe vera may be a great, hardy, and attractive plant to keep around the house for us humans (and is great for the skin, too), but for your pets, it actually does more harm than good. It’s mildly toxic to both cats and dogs, and while it’s usually not life-threatening, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.

Essential oils

While essential oils are exceedingly popular for humans, for your pets, especially cats, essential oils could be fatal. Using essential oils on your person is usually OK for your pet, but diffusing them in the air, as has become popular in recent years, can overwhelm your pets’ delicate (and hypersensitive) systems. Some of the most toxic essential oils for dogs include: Clove, Garlic, and Tea Tree. Some of the most toxic essential oils for cats include: Lemon, Eucalyptus, and Peppermint.

Surprised at some of these inclusions? We can’t say we’re surprised. Educating pet owners this way is one of our passions, as is taking care of your pets for you when you’re busy. Our Pet Nannies are all experts in the common pet toxins and will be sure to keep them away from your pets. If you have a busy schedule, give us a call and we will make sure your pets get all the attention they need.  Contact us at 734-981-6108 or use our on-line contact form and we will be in touch with you shortly.

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