Common Household Chemicals Harming Your Dog or Cat – Top 10

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 07/07/20 •  11 min read
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If you know for sure your cat or dog has eaten or inhaled a harmful chemical, then call the vet immediately. This could be a medical emergency and your pet will need to be treated as soon as possible in order to save his life.

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If you even suspect or worry that your fur baby has eaten or been exposed to something toxic, then be sure to call the vet right away. They’ll be able to give you guidance on what needs to be done next to help your cat or dog.

We all keep household cleaners around and use chemicals indoors and outdoors. But have you ever wondered if these chemicals could be harming your dog or cat? Most pet parents do everything possible to make sure their fur babies are safe and healthy. But our household chemicals can be dangerous to our pets. Even so, dogs and cats are curious beings who may try to get into things that aren’t good for them. Dogs, for instance, are famous for eating and everything, while cats are a bit more circumspect, though they can also get into trouble with chemicals in the home.

We’ve put together an article that includes a list of commonly found household chemicals that can be toxic for dogs and cats. Let’s get started.

What Household Items Can Kill a Dog or a Cat?

Here are some of the most common household products that can lead to dog poisoning or cat poisoning:

1). Lawn Fertilizers

These are common in homes that have a yard with grass and are used to make sure the grass receives what it needs to stay green and healthy. Some of these products may also contain herbicides, which are chemicals that kill weeds and other unwanted plants.

One of the most serious problems that come from this type of household chemical is cancer. Dogs that are exposed to the herbicides in these products have a high risk of developing malignant lymphoma. In fact, one study showed that if a “weed and feed” lawn product is used on the grass about 4 times (or more) a year, a dog has 2x the risk of developing lymphoma. But even just one application in a year is enough to cause this serious health issue in some dogs. These products can also be harmful to cats.

To prevent this problem, you can use products that contain corn gluten. This is a natural fertilizer that also works to kill weeds before they start. The best part is that it’s safe for pets.

Another alternative is to avoid spraying or spreading regular lawn fertilizers where your fur baby runs around in the yard. In addition, you can also wipe your dog’s feet after he’s been out on the yard, which can be helpful if the fertilizer has been recently applied. It’s also a good idea to keep your dog or cat off a yard that’s been recently treated. When the product is completely dry, after 2-3 hours, then your fur baby can walk on it. But be sure to clean their feet afterwards.

2). Bleach

Bleach is another common household chemical that is poisonous to cats and dogs, but it depends on which type of bleach. If your fur baby is exposed to household bleach, they will more than likely be OK. That’s because these products are an irritant. You can quickly treat your fur baby for exposure to this chemical.

However, if your pet is exposed to ultra-concentrated bleach, then the situation can be more serious. This is because ultra-concentrated bleach is a corrosive product. This type of bleach can cause severe chemical burns on the skin, mouth, in the esophagus and even into the stomach.

Another type of bleach that can be dangerous is non-chlorine bleach, which is sometimes called “color-safe bleach.” If your fur baby drinks this, they could begin to vomit and suffer from tissue irritation.

3). De-Icing Salts

This type of product is used in regions where it becomes very cold in the winter, and work to melt ice and snow. These can be very dangerous to dogs and cats. Once the product has been used on a surface, then a pet can walk across the area. Later, they may lick their feet, and develop symptoms such as excessive salivation, nausea and vomiting. If a pet eats a large amount of de-icing salts, the product can cause an increase of electrolyte levels in the blood, lethargy, weakness and irritation of the mouth and the digest system. The pet may even develop tremors. The products can also cause burns, cracked skin and irritation to the paws.

The chemical responsible for these health issues in dogs and cats is sodium chloride, which is used in most de-icers (also called rock salt). Other products may contain potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate magnesium acetate. While these chemicals can still cause problems, they aren’t as toxic.

A safe alternative is the use of boots for your pet, which can be used when going for walks in the winter. Another option is to use sand or cat litter instead of de-icing products on pavement and sidewalks.

4). Laundry Detergent Pods

Laundry detergent pods have become very popular in recent years. What could be easier than throwing in a pod that contains detergent? Then you don’t have mess with pouring and measuring the detergent, which can sometimes be messy. However, these can be dangerous for cats and dogs if they bite into the pods or even eat a pod.

The laundry detergent pods contain a high concentration of chemicals used in laundering clothing. Biting one can release enough of the chemicals to make your fur baby sick. Dogs or cats that eat or swallow some of the laundry chemicals may being to vomit and/or develop respiratory issues. Another problem is that the chemicals become foamy when they are combined with a liquid. When swallowed, your fur baby’s saliva can make the product begin to foam, and the foam could then be aspirated into the lungs. This is a very dangerous situation.

If you’d like to keep using the laundry determent pods, then be sure to store them in a place that’s not accessible to your dog or cat. This can be a challenge, especially since cats can climb or jump, but you could use a child-safe lock on the cabinet where the pods are stored. This would make it much harder for your fur baby to access the pods.

5). Antifreeze

Antifreeze is another commonly used chemical that’s toxic for dogs and cats. These products are made with a chemical called ethylene glycol, which cause death, even if only a small amount is swallowed. Ethylene glycol is attractive to pets because it has a sweet smell. Antifreeze is something we may not even realize that our pets can easily access. For instance, it may drip, leak of spill on the garage floor, or on the driveway, and we may not even notice.

This is why it’s very important to watch for antifreeze drips, leaks and spills. If you find some, then it’s best to clean it up right away. Antifreeze usually has a greenish color that you may notice on the pavement or on the floor of the garage.

6). Mothballs

Many of us keep mothballs around the house. These are commonly used to repel and kill moths. However, if your fur baby gets a hold of one of these, they can become very sick. Moth balls are made with chemicals that when inhaled can cause headaches, breathing difficulties, eye irritation and more. If the mothballs are swallowed, they are toxic and can lead to liver damage, respiratory failure, seizures, heart problems and even death. If your cat or dog swallows just one mothball, they can become very sick.

Mothballs are commonly made with naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. These are both highly toxic chemicals. If you need to use mothballs, it’s best to keep them completely away from your cat or dog. They are best stored in airtight containers, safely stored away from pets.

7). Insecticides

Insecticides are products commonly used inside and out in the yard of many homes. They work to repel and/or kill insects of all types. Sometimes these products are used inside the home to kill pests, and are commonly found in sprays, foggers, and even traps for flies and other insects. Outside, many people spray insecticides on the yard, or they may spread granules, both of which kill bugs.

Insecticide products can be poisonous for your cat or dog if eaten, swallowed, licked off paws, etc. These chemicals can cause fever, vomiting, seizures and even loss of appetite. They can also lead to death. If you need to use insecticides indoors or outdoors, be sure to ask your vet about pet-safe alternatives.

8). Formaldehyde

You may not even realize that formaldehyde may be in your home, but this is a common toxin for pets. This is a chemical that is found in many things around the house—everything from furniture, cleaners and even in construction materials. It can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or even eaten. This is a known carcinogen in both pets and pet parents.

If your fur baby likes to chew on fabric, wood-veneer furniture and woodwork, laminated flooring and more, these may contain formaldehyde. Even so, these products can even leach the chemical into the air, which can also be very dangerous for pets.

To avoid these problems, you may want to buy solid-wood furniture and make sure your home is well ventilated at all times. In addition, make sure that products made for pets, such as bedding, cushions, etc. are washed before letting your dog or cat use them.

9). Household Cleaners

Many cleaners we use every day contain chemicals that are poisonous to dogs and cats. Many of them produce vapors which can be harmful to our fur babies. The chemicals in cleaning products can also be toxic if ingested.

Household cleaners with harmful chemicals include everything from products such as window cleaners, oven cleaners, to all-purpose cleaners and automatic dishwasher detergents. Even disinfecting wipes contain chemicals that can cause health issues in our fur babies.

To avoid problems with household cleaners, be sure to keep them stored in a way that pets are not able to access them. You might also consider using non-toxic cleaners, as many of the newer products are as effective as older household cleaners. Or you can even make your own homemade cleaners using non-toxic, natural ingredients.

10). Medications

You may not consider medications to be a household chemical, but they are chemical substances. Any type of medication can be toxic to cats or dogs, even those made for pets. For instance, if your fur baby somehow gets a hold of his medication and eats all the pills in that were in the bottle, this can quickly become a medical emergency.

Another problem is human medications. If your fur baby happens to find a pill that accidentally fell on the floor, and then eats it, they could be come really sick. Human medications are not meant for our pets. And if they are some of the same medications that a pet might take, the doses in our medications are usually much higher than those given to a pet.

To avoid issues with medications, be sure to keep everything stored in a locked cabinet that your pet can’t access. And if you or another person happens to drop a pill, be sure to find it so your fur baby can’t get it and eat it.

Symptoms of Poisoning in Dogs and Cats

Here are lists of the most common symptoms of poisoning in cats and dogs:

Poison Cats Symptoms

Here are some of the most signs of poisoning to watch for in your cat:

Poison dog symptoms

Here are some of the most common symptoms that a dog has been poisoned:

When it comes to using and storing household chemicals of all types, including medications, it pays to be extremely careful. Make sure to clean up any spilled chemicals and pick up all medications quickly. Then keep them stored in a place that is not accessible to your cat or dog. Take the time to pet your cat and dog to check for new fur and skin conditions.

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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