20 Things You May Have Not Known Are Toxic to Pets

20 Things You May Have Not Known Are Toxic to Pets


Most of the following toxicities have the potential to be life-threatening. If you believe your pet has been exposed to or is displaying clinical symptoms of a toxicity, immediately call your veterinarian or take your pet to the clinic. This is a time sensitive matter. The faster your pet receives medical treatment, the greater the prognosis.

Routes of Exposure

  • Ingestion (most common)
  • Inhalation
  • Topical
  • Injection (accidental overdose of medication)

Toxic Plants

There are hundreds of plants that are toxic to pets. I only listed a few below. If your pet has ingested any unknown plant material and is displaying clinical symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, depression, lethargy, or abnormal behavior, please speak with or visit your veterinarian.

Lilies (Tiger lily, Easter lily, Stargazer lily, some day lilies)

  • All parts of the plant are toxic
  • Renal (kidneys) tubular damage = acute renal failure
  • In North America- found in Southern Canada and across the U.S.
  • Clinical symptoms: inappetence, vomiting, depression, inability to urinate, painful urination and frequent attempts to urinate with little urine output

Cardiac glycosides which is found in Foxglove, Oleander and Lily of the Valley

  • Found throughout eastern and southeastern U.S. and Canada Native to Europe, Mediterranean and Canary Islands
  • Clinical symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, inappetence and cardiac arrhythmias

Cycad (Sago) Palms

  • Toxic agent: cycasin
  • Seeds are especially toxic
  • Native to tropical islands of southern Japan
  • Found commonly in subtropics of the U.S. - Florida, California, Georgia and Puerto Rico
  • Clinical symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence and abnormal behavior


  • English Ivy, Marijuana, Schefflera, Pothos, Chrysanthemum, Tulips, Kalanchoe, Hyacinth, Dieffenbachia, Daffodils, Cyclamen, Azalea, Autumn Crocus

Food and Drinks

Wild Mushrooms

  • Clinical symptoms: abnormal salivation, watery eyes, increased urination, diarrhea, poor coordination, seizures and acute liver failure

Onions, Garlic, Shallots, Leeks and Chives

  • Clinical symptoms: weakness, lethargy, poor coordination, pale gums, anemia, red/brown urine, possible vomiting or diarrhea and red blood cell damage

Grapes, Raisins and Currants

  • Clinical symptoms: increased thirst, inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, inability to urinate or only able to produce small output of urine, seizures, tremors and renal failure

Dark Chocolate

  • Theobromine is the toxic element found in chocolate, the darker the chocolate the higher the content of toxin (white chocolate does not contain theobromine, but is high in sugar and should not be given to your pets)
  • Clinical symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmias and seizures


  • An artificial zero-calorie sweetener typically found in sugar free gum products
  • Certain brands of peanut butter contain xylitol, also check for this ingredient before giving to your pet
  • Clinical symptoms: hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level), vomiting, weakness, depression, lethargy, poor coordination and balance, seizures, tremors, blindness, restlessness, liver failure and coma


  • Clinical symptoms: hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination and coma


  • Sensitive to very small amounts of alcohol
  • Clinical symptoms: poor coordination, vomiting, depression, lethargy, drooling, decreased respiratory rate, low blood sugar, hypotension and hypothermia

Raw Yeast Dough

  • Clinical symptoms: distended/bloated abdomen, vomiting, unproductive retching, increased heart rate, weakness and collapse

Macadamia Nuts

  • Clinical symptoms: vomiting, weakness, fever, muscle tremors and depression

Large Quantities of High Fat Foods

  • High fat foods in large quantities can cause pancreatitis.
  • Dogs are commonly brought into the clinic on Thanksgiving displaying clinical symptoms of pancreatitis, which include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, inappetence, fever and lethargy.
  • Pancreatitis is painful and abnormal posture, specifically the “praying position” (rear end is raised while elbows are on the ground) is a common sign of abdominal pain.
  • During holidays or anytime large portions of food are left out on the table unattended, make sure your pet is unable to reach.

Rodenticides, Pesticides, Insecticides

Warfarin, Brodifacoum, Bromadiolone

  • Clinical symptoms: increased urination and thirst, neurological/behavior abnormalities, large tissue bruising and bleeding from orifices

Pyrethrin (derived from Chrysanthemum Plants)

  • Cats are sensitive to low exposure doses
  • Found in pesticides and topical pest prevention medications for dogs
  • Clinical symptoms: hypersalivation (increased saliva production), tremors/shaking, hyperthermia and seizures

Organophosphates (Pesticide)

  • Clinical symptoms: slow heart rate, hypersalivation and lacrimation (tearing), increased urination, diarrhea, twitching, paralysis, weakness, poor coordination and seizures


Immediately consult with a veterinary professional if your pet takes any medication they are not prescribed or takes the wrong dose of a medication they were prescribed.

Tylenol (Acetaminophen)

  • Clinical symptoms: brown gums, anemia, increased respiratory rate, poor oxygenation, vomiting, inappetence, jaundice and black-tarry feces
  • It is not uncommon for dogs to eat pills if there are bottles within reach.
  • Immediately seek medical attention if you have reason to believe your dog has ingested any medication that it shouldn't have or has overdosed on a medication.
  • Take the bottle and any remaining pills to the clinic as this information really helps determine an appropriate treatment plan.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories

  • Clinical symptoms: stomach ulceration, depression, seizures, poor coordination and balance, vomiting, diarrhea and inappetence

Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol)

  • Anti-freeze is an odorless, sweet tasting substance, which it is a common toxicity in dogs.
  • Clinical symptoms: increased urination and thirst, vomiting, poor coordination and balance, depression, renal failure, inability to urinate or little output of urine produced, metabolic and electrolyte disturbances


  • Zinc is present in pennies minted after 1983
    Clinical symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, lethargy, jaundice, seizures, anemia, liver and kidney damage, inflammation of the pancreas and orange-tinged feces

Forms of Treatment

Case/Toxin Specific Decontamination

  • Remove toxin to decrease absorption 
  • Induce vomiting (removes 40-60% of stomach contents) 
  • Gastric lavage (tube inserted from the mouth into stomach and stomach contents are removed)
  • Activated charcoal – absorbs toxic substances to limit absorption

Enhanced Elimination of Toxin 

  • Speeding up the body’s process of elimination
  • Intravenous fluids for water soluble toxins
  • Intravenous lipid therapy for fat soluble toxins

Antidote Therapy

  • Not available for all toxins 
  • Protects against damage to tissues and aids in metabolic detoxification

Supportive Care

  • Treating effects of toxin, example: blood transfusion, IV fluids, pain medication, oxygen therapy, etc.


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