One of the most important things to do before bringing home a dog is to puppy-proof your home (yes, even if the new member of your family is well into their golden years). Because, as any dog owner will tell you, your pup will get into it everything. Your shoe collection is no match for their teeth, your pantry is their new play area, and your garbage, well, nothing has ever looked more enticing. So, it’s key to lock down anything you don’t want them to eat—especially things that could be toxic. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes difficult to know what those are. To help, we asked veterinarians to tell us the most harmful things, other than foods, they see patients ingest. Read on to learn about five common household items you probably didn’t know were toxic to dogs.
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You probably don’t think twice before popping an Advil to ease a headache or muscle pain. But if your dog ingests these types of medications, there can be serious consequences. “Dogs have very narrow therapeutic ranges of medications, meaning that a small amount of pain medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which we think of as harmless and generally very safe for us, can be quite harmful to pets,” says Caroline WildeDVM, staff veterinarian at pet insurance company Trupanion.
Accidental ingestion can cause gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney damage, so you should contact your vet immediately if your dog swallows any amount. And no, you should never give your dog any dose of pain reliever that is not prescribed by your vet.
This stuff is bad for rats and dogs alike. Unfortunately, pups get into it way too frequently. “The most common non-food toxin I see dogs eating would probably be rat bait,” he says Linda Simon, DVM, a veterinary surgeon and consultant for FiveBarks. “It is used by many people both indoors and outdoors; also, the dog can eat a poisoned mouse, thus ingesting the poison itself.”
Rat bait can cause toxicity by impacting the neurological system or by causing internal bleeding, Simon explains. “Now commonly, the dog’s clotting ability is affected and they will bleed internally, which can lead to death,” says Simon. “This will take a few days to occur, so dogs initially seem fine.” If you suspect your dog may have ingested some, get to the vet ASAP.
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It is important to note that mothballs are a type of pesticide, and pesticides should be kept far away from all pets. “Mothballs contain naphthalene, which is toxic to dogs and can cause organ damage if ingested,” he says Melissa M. Brockboard-certified veterinarian and writer at Pango Pets.
Your dog may also display signs of gastrointestinal upset, according to VCA Animal Hospitals (VCAAH). To use them safely, keep your mothballs in a sealed container to reduce the spread of fumes and the possibility that your dog will attempt to play with or eat them.
Remember the Tide Pod Challenge? Well, it turns out it’s just as dangerous for puppies as it is for teenagers. “You might think it wouldn’t be that harmful as it is soap used to clean things that we use on a daily basis, but they are actually severely toxic to dogs,” says Alex Crow, DVM, a veterinarian who works with HappiestDog. “They look like a treat when they are in pod form, which is attractive to your dog, so it’s important to keep them locked up and out of reach at all times.”
Common symptoms of toxicity from these pods are drooling, shaking the head vigorously, excessive licking, trouble breathing, vomiting, and an overall sense of distress and discomfort, Crow notes.
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You may know that there are several houseplants that are toxic to dogs, but the veterinarians we polled thought it was important to stress the issue. “Not all owners understand how dangerous houseplants are,” says Wilde. “Some plants are non-toxic, while others can cause serious adverse effects and even death.”
If your dog eats a toxic plant, remove the plant and wash its mouth with water. “Then bring them to a vet for emergency care, which will likely include vomit induction, intravenous fluids, and other supportive care,” Wilde adds. To prevent issues in the first place, research each plant thoroughly before bringing it into the house. This applies to gifts and floral bouquets, too.
If you believe your dog may have ingested something harmful, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline, a 24/7 animal poison control center, at 1-800-213-6680.