What Is Toxic For Pets?

  • Common medications can be toxic to pets because they metabolize things differently than humans
  • This can include drugs like Tylenol, Advil, and blood pressure medication
  • Foods like chocolate, macadamia nuts and alcohol are poisonous for pets
  • Xylitol (commonly found in sugar-free gum) is toxic for pets
  • During winter, antifreeze is a big problem, as it is very sweet and can be fatal in low doses
  • In a case of emergency call the 24-hour Animal Poison Control Center: 800-213-6680

Pet Poison Awareness Month

There are many household items that are poisonous to pets, such as human medications (Tylenol, Advil, blood pressure meds, etc.), chocolate (especially dark chocolate), and xylitol (commonly found in sugar-free gum). Another common household item that’s toxic to pets is antifreeze, which tastes sweet, but can be deadly if ingested.

Listen to the podcast on iTunes or read the transcription below:

Steve: “March is Pet Poison Awareness Month. With “Eye on Pets,” I’m Steve Grzanich with Dr. Julia Georgesen.”

Dr. Georgesen: “Nearly 50% of pet poisonings involve some type of human medication. Cats and dogs metabolize medications very differently than humans, and something that can seem very benign can, in fact, be toxic to pets. Thyroid medication, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and even the seemingly common medications such as Tylenol and Advil should not be given to pets. Aspirin can have drug interactions. It can cause gastric ulcerations. Pet-proof your house to make sure you have your medications stored high, up and away from your pet. Never leave pill bottles in the pet’s reach. A lot times they’ll think those plastic bottles are chew toys.”

“Don’t forget that chocolate, macadamia nuts, and alcohol are toxic to pets. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which acts a lot like caffeine whenever a pet ingests it, and causes vomiting, sometimes hyper excitability, and heart disturbances, and a large amount can cause death. Dark chocolate is the worst.”

Steve: “What is the most dangerous piece of candy, would you say, for a dog or a cat?”

Dr. Georgesen: “Xylitol is something that people don’t think of, and it is in a lot of the sugar-free gums these days. You really wouldn’t think that it would be something you should be concerned about, but whenever a dog does eat xylitol…it drops their blood sugar very low, and it can cause them to have weakness and seizures.”

“One of the deadliest problems with the cold weather is when pets accidentally ingest antifreeze. It’s really, really sweet, but it contains ethylene glycol, and a small amount of that can be fatal. Signs to look for—if you think they’ve ingested it—include stumbling or vomiting, almost as if your dog or cat could look intoxicated. The best thing to do would be to call your veterinarian’s office or the Pet Poison Hotline.”

Steve: “The Pet Poison Help Line, 24-hour Animal Poison Control Center: 800-213-6680. You can also visit the Pet Poison Help Line at petpoisonhelpline.com. That’s “Eye on Pets” with Dr. Julia Georgesen. I’m Steve Grzanich, News Radio 780 at 105.9 FM.”