Poison prevention week is March 20th - 26th. This week focuses on educating pet parents on some of the common things poisonous to pets. Pet poison prevention week ties into National Poison Prevention Week and spring! This is a good time to remind everyone about the dangers found in spring such as cleaners, plants, fertilizer, pesticides and so much more. The ASPCA lists many household products and food that can be lethal to pets. Those include chocolate, grapes, mushrooms, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other over-the-counter drugs.


There are a plethora of plants that can be harmful to pets, some are well known to many pet owners and others may not be so obvious. 

Aloe Vera:

This plant has seen a rise in popularity but may not be the best to keep around curious pets. Aloe Vera plants contain anthraquinone glycosides which are purgatives (medications that encourage bowel movements). When ingested, these glycosides are metabolized by intestinal bacteria forming compounds that increase mucus production and water in the colon. Some signs of an anthraquinone overdose include vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. 


Chrysanthemum also known as Mums, contain a few different toxic elements. If your cat or dog eats this plant, you can expect some vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, incoordination, dermatitis. Mums are a wildly used plant so make sure you keep them out of reach of your pets or keep them in certain areas of your yard your pets can't access. 


Daffodils are a very common easter plant- along with lilies- and can be just as toxic to both cats and dogs. The flower can cause vomiting, salivation, diarrhea; large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmias, but be mindful that the bulbs are the most poisonous part. 


Hydrangeas are a common yard plant that helps to brighten up any landscaping, but did you know that they are pretty nasty for your pets? Hydrangeas can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea due to Cyanide intoxication. Cyanide intoxication is rare. Typically the toxin produces more of a gastrointestinal disturbance.


Lilies are very toxic to cats, and can even cause kidney failure in extreme cases compared to dogs where you only typically see a slight stomach irritation. It is critical that if you suspect your cat has eaten any part of a lily, they be bought in immediately. Permanent damage to the kidneys can more often than not be reversed if the cat is treated within 18 hours of exposure. 


Tulips are a common sign spring has sprung. However, tulips contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions, and cardiac abnormalities. Best to keep them out of reach of your pet! 

Household Cleaners


While properly cleaning with a diluted bleach solution is a great way to keep your pet's cage and other items clean, make sure you fully air out and dry any products you use it on. Just like with people, straight bleach can irritate the skin, and if ingested, can cause heavy drooling (especially in cats) and redness and irritation on the skin and in and around the mouth. While household bleach is more of an irritant rather than a crosive, the symptoms are can be worrisome for most pet owners. In cases of ultra-concentrated bleach, it will cause chemical burns and lesions both internally and externally. If your pet has gotten into any amount of ultra-concentrated bleach, treat this as an emergency and contact your local E-Vet or Animal Hospital for instructions. 

Essential Oils:

Contrary to what some people think, Essential Oils can cause a plethora of issues, especially in cats. If ingested, they can cause gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression and even liver damage could occur if ingested in significant quantities. If inhaled in large quantities, they can cause aspiration pneumonia. 

Human Pharmaceuticals


Unlike humans, aspirin should not be given over the counter to pets to help ease any pain. While it can be used to help pets, the risk of an overdose is very high and can lead to liver failure. We strongly recommend consulting with your vet if you believe your pet to be in pain


Any NASID painkillers are not metabolized the same way in humans as they do in pets. Because of the difference in elimination, even small amounts can cause significant medical problems in dogs, including gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney failure. Please consult your veterinarian before giving any over-the-counter medications for pain


These products contain salicylates, which are similar to aspirin. Depending on the circumstances of exposure, large enough doses of bismuth salicylate could cause effects similar to aspirin poisoning. These include gastric irritation or ulceration, bleeding problems, seizures, and liver damage.


Pseudoephedrine can be found in many over the counter decongestants. Clinical signs include nervousness, hyperactivity, and other behavioral changes; panting; fast heart rate; and high blood pressure. 

Commonly Asked Questions:
Answered by Dr. Connor at Russell Ridge Animal Hospital

What items are toxic to dogs? 

  • Chocolate/Grapes
  • Xylitol
  • Ethylene glycol: A chemical commonly found in antifreeze. Pets have been known to drink antifreeze due to its sweet taste. 
  • Rat bait
  • Prescription & over the counter human medications that are dropped including Tylenol, ibuprofen & several others. 

What items are toxic to cats? 

  • Ethylene glycol: A chemical commonly found in antifreeze. Pets have been known to drink antifreeze due to its sweet taste. 
  • Rat bait
  • Lillies
  • Prescription & over the counter human medications that are dropped including Tylenol, ibuprofen & several others

Is chocolate as deadly for dogs as we are led to believe?

  • Yes! Dark chocolate and baker's chocolate both contain high levels of caffeine and theobromine. Theobromine is a chemical we humans can digest quickly whereas dogs cannot. The slower digestion period allows for the chemical to build up and reach toxic levels at a quicker rate. 

How do I know if my pet has gotten into something poisonous?

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, disorientation, seizures, etc.

What do I do if I suspect my pet has ingested something poisonous?

  • Bring your pet into a veterinary hospital immediately and/or call poison control for immediate advice. 

Is there anything I can do for my pet at home before taking them to the emergency vet?

  • Call poison control. Bring a sample of toxin ingested for veterinary evaluation.

Is marijuana toxic to pets?

  • Yes! If they eat the actual buds of the plant it can result in lethargy, breathing problems, lower blood pressure, abnormal heart rates, loss of balance, and even loss of bladder control. 

As your pet's doctor, we do not care! We are more concerned about your pet's safety and well being. If you believe your pets managed to get into any drug or toxin on this list, please let us know so we can better treat your pet. 

If you have any questions regarding these toxins please contact us today.