Toxins for Dogs and Cats

There are many different things in our daily environment that are toxic to our canine and feline babies. Being aware of these hazards is very beneficial as a pet parent.


  • NSAIDS (Motrin, Advil, Aleve) – Ingestion of any NSAID can cause kidney failure, stomach ulcers, liver failure, and even death.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – For cats, it can damage their red blood cells limiting their ability to carry oxygen and also cause liver and kidney failure. In dogs, it can cause liver and kidney failure and damage red blood cells.
  • Antidepressants (Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro) – Overdoses with antidepressant drugs can lead to sedation, incoordination, tremors, seizures, elevated heart rates, blood pressure, body temperature, and death.
  • ADD/ADHD Medications (Conerta, Adderall, Ritalin) – Due to containing certain ingredients such as amphetamines, ingestion of any medications used to treat ADD/ADHD can be life threatening to our furry friends. Tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures, heart problems and death can be a result of ingestion.
  • Benzodiazepines and Sleep Aids (Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta) – Dogs can become agitated, have severe lethargy, slowed breathing, and incoordination upon ingestion. Cats can experience liver failure as well.
  • Birth Control (estrogen, estradiol, progesterone) – Ingesting birth control pills can cause bone marrow suppression, and for intact females can run the risk for estrogen poisoning.
  • ACE Inhibitors (Zestril, Altace) – Overdoses of blood pressure medications can cause low blood pressure, dizziness and weakness.
  • Beta-Blockers (Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg) – This category is very dangerous, if your furry friend ingests any type of beta-blocker, they will experience a drop in blood pressure and slowed hear rate, and can be deadly.
  • Thyroid Hormones (Armour desiccated thyroid, Synthroid) – Even though these are used to help control the thyroid hormone in cats and dogs, overdose can result in muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, aggression, and a rapid heart rate.
  • Cholesterol Lowering Agents (Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor) – Ingestion of any medication that can help control cholesterol can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but no severe side affects unless there is long term ingestions.


  • Chocolate is toxic to our four-legged babies! The less sweet and more bitter chocolate is more toxic.
  • Ethanol (found in alcohol and yeast) can result in alcohol poisoning in pets, along with bloating, elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse, and death.
  • Grapes, Raisins, and Currants if ingested (even the smallest amount) will ultimately lead to renal failure. Symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal drinking or urination, lethargy, inappetance, halitosis, and dehydration.
  • Hops poisoning signs include: elevated body temperature, increased breathing, racing heart rate, anxiety, vomiting, abnormal clotting, and ultimately, death.
  • Macadamia Nuts can be mildly to moderately toxic to dogs, signs include: severe lethargy, increased body temperature, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, and inability to walk.
  • Moldy Food toxicity signs include: vomiting, agitation, walking drunk, tremors, seizures, and severe secondary hyperthermia. Moldy foods contain tremorgenic mycotoxins and are moderate to severe in level of toxicity.
  • Onions are toxic to cats and dogs, and signs of poisoning may not be present for several days after ingestion. Signs include: drooling, nausea, oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, elevated hear rate and respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, collapse, and visibly pale gums.
  • Garlic is considered five times more potent than onions, and is toxic to both cats and dogs. Signs may not appear immediately but days after and include: drooling, nausea, oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, elevated heart rate and respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, collapse, and pale gums.
  • Xylitol can be severely toxic to dogs. Xylitol is a natural sugar-free sweetener found in many different household food items. Signs of poisoning include: weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, tremoring, seizures, jaundice, malaise, black-tarry stool, coma, and death.
  • Mushrooms can be toxic to animals depending on the type, but it is best to err on the side of caution. Signs include: nausea, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, walking drunk, depression, tremors, seizures, and organ failure.
  • Coffee Grounds and Caffeine of any kind are very dangerous to our four-legged friends. Caffeine is found in so many different products, it is always important to pay attention to the ingredients in drinks and food items. Signs of caffeine poisoning: Hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate, hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia, seizures, collapse, and death.
  • Cherries, while the pulp is not toxic, the rest of the cherry plant contains cyanogenic glycosides. If ingested, poisoning signs include: dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, inadequate oxygen levels, bright red gums, shock and death.
  • Raw and Green Potatoes contain solanine and other toxic alkaloids that if eaten, can cause drooling, severe gastrointestinal upset, loss of appetite, drowsiness, central nervous system depression, confusion, behavioral changes, weakness, dilated pupils, and slowed heart rate.
  • Apricot stems, leaves, and seeds contain cyanide. Signs include: dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, inadequate oxygen levels, bright red gums, shock and death.
  • Herbs and Spices contain oils and resins that can upset our pet’s tummies. Ingestion can cause diarrhea, vomiting, gastritis, and pancreatitis.
  • Star Fruit can be severely toxic to both cats and dogs. Along with rhubarb, star fruit contains oxalic acid and oxalate salts. If ingested in large enough quantities, signs include: Drooling, inappetance, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine, and changes in thirst and urination.


  • Amaryllis can be toxic to both cats and dogs. The most toxic parts of the plants are the leaves, stems, and bulbs due to the fact that they contain phenanthridine alkaloids. Signs include: drooling, vomiting, hypotension, respiratory depression, abdominal discomfort.
  • Aloe Vera can be a stomach irritant if ingested causing vomiting and diarrhea, depression, anorexia, and changes in urine color.
  • Baby’s Breath is a GI tract irritant, causing vomiting and diarrhea, lethargy, depression, and anorexia.
  • Lilies – Although there are certain types of lilies that are toxic and some not, it is best to err on the side of caution and always check to see if you have lilies in your household that are toxic to your pets. Easter, Lily of the Valley, Tiger, Day, Asiatic Hybrid, Japanese, Show, Rub Rum, Stargazer, Red, Western, and Wood Lilies are all highly toxic to cats. Even the smallest ingestion of any part of the lilies, including just the pollen, can cause acute kidney failure in cats. Immediate veterinary care is recommended for any cat that has come in contact with toxic lilies. Signs of poisoning are: inappetance, lethargy, hiding, vomiting, diarrhea, halitosis, dehydration, inappropriate urination, seizures, and death.
  • Mistletoe can also be poisonous to both cats and dogs, mostly the American and European varieties. Berries contain polysaccharides, alkaloids, and lectins which can cause GI upset. Signs of poisoning include: drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypotension, walking drunk, collapse, seizures and death.
  • Poinsettias are toxic to not only cats and dogs, but also to horses, cows, and birds. They are considered a mild toxin and signs include: drooling, licking lips, dermal irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Rhododendrons are considered a mild to severe toxin to both cats and dogs. This also includes the deciduous species Azalea. How toxic this plant can be depends on the hybridization of the two common plants. All parts of the plant are considered toxic if ingested, and signs include: drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance, abdominal pain, abnormal heart rate and rhythms, hypotension, weakness, tremors, depression, blindness, seizures, and coma.

Household Products

  • Acids – Any products containing acids (batteries, toilet bowl cleaners, vinegar, metal cleaners, anti-rust compounds, hair wave neutralizers, drain cleaners, and any chemicals with a pH less than 7) can be severely toxic to cats and dogs. Even though acids are not pleasant to taste and can cause immediate pain on contact, curiosity gets the best of some pets. Signs of acid poisoning are: drooling, pawing at mouth, difficulty swallowing, ulceration in the mouth, squinting of the eyes, redness of the exposed area, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
  • Detergents can be an irritant to dogs and cats, but seems to be more severe in cats. Signs of any exposure to detergents are: difficulty breathing, inappetance, and burns in the mouth, pawing at the mouth, drooling, vomiting, and lethargy.
  • Fire Starter Logs can pose a threat to dogs in a couple different ways. If chewed and ingested, they can become a foreign body, and if they contain metals, there is a risk of metal toxicity. Signs include: drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite, distended stomach, and retching.
  • Fireworks pose many different hazards for our four legged friends. The noise alone can be a trigger for anxiety and stress. Majority of missing pets disappear around holidays such as the Fourth of July due to fear of the loud booms and crackles. Unused fireworks, as well as used, are very dangerous as well. They can cause GI upset due to the chemicals they contain, they can become a foreign body if chewed, and when lit can cause burns to the face or body. Signs of poisoning depend on the amount ingested but still include: vomiting, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, tremors, seizures, shallow breathing, jaundice, acute kidney failure, and bone marrow changes.
  • Glow Jewelry is always a fun addition to certain events and holidays, but they pose a threat to our pets as well. They can cause a blockage in the GI tract if chewed, and they also contain chemicals that can be irritating to the skin and GI tract. Signs include: drooling, gagging, retching, pawing at the mouth, redness to the eyes and skin, and vomiting.
  • Super Glue and Gorilla Glue are toxic to both dogs and cats. Certain glues contains chemicals that if ingested and mixed with stomach fluid and acid, will expand in the stomach causing a GI blockage. Signs include: drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite, distended stomach, and retching.
  • Liquid potpourri and candles pose a threat. Wagging tails and curious noses can knock a burning, unattended candle off a table, also shaggy and fluffy coats can brush a burning candle, both becoming fire hazards. Always keep an eye on burning candles if you have pets in the house and never leave them unattended. Liquid potpourri can cause burns to the mouth and skin and if ingested, cause damage to the internal organs. Signs of poisoning include: pawing at the mouth, vomiting, retching, inappetance, lethargy, weakness, dehydration, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, and organ damage.
  • Tinsel may not contain any toxic chemicals, but it still poses a hazard to our critters. It can become entangled around their paws, tails, or tongues cutting off the circulation. Tinsel can also cause a GI blockage if ingested, and would need to be surgically removed. Signs of ingestion include: pawing at the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, lethargy, weakness, dehydration, and abdominal pain.

Insecticides and Chemicals

  • Antifreeze Ethylene glycol is a chemical found in radiator fluid. Ethylene glycol is extremely toxic to dogs and cats, and it only takes a small amount to reach the lethal dose. Less than one ounce can cause death in a 10 pound dog.
    In the early stages of toxicity, where the antifreeze has been consumed within twelve hours, you will often see signs that mimic intoxication. Animals will appear “drunk” and are often walking unsteadily, vomiting, having muscle tremors, or feeling depressed. Peak absorption occurs very quickly in cats at just one hour and 3-6 hours in dogs. Between 12 and 24 hours, clinical signs include seizures or coma. You may note some temporary improvement in dogs during this time. However, after 12-24 hours in cats and 24-72 hours in dogs, acute renal failure occurs. You will see severe depression, changes in urination, and ulcers in the mouth with increased saliva. Death is very common at this point, especially without intervention.
    Treatment includes hospitalization with intravenous fluids and medications to help support kidney function. It can take several days of hospitalization before a pet is able to go home, and the kidney damage can be permanent.
  • Amitraz is an ectoparasiticide used in veterinary products. It is found in our flea and tick preventatives and if ingested accidentally or applied inappropriately can result in severe clinical signs. It is always important to keep your preventatives up and out of reach of our four-legged and two-legged kids. Always use your preventatives as your veterinarian prescribes them and never use a preventative labeled for a dog on a cat or vice versa. Signs of poisoning include: lethargy, walking drunk, dilated pupils, seizures, tremors, coma, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, slowed heart rate, collapse, and hypotension or hypertension.
  • Metaldehyde is a chemical found in slug and snail poison and is severely toxic to both cats and dogs. It doesn’t matter the form that it comes in (pellets, liquid, granules etc.), it is all poisonous! Clinical signs of ingestion are: vomiting, panting, agitation, tremors, seizures, liver failure, other organ damage, and death.
  • Organophosphates, a chemical found in insecticides, is highly toxic and deadly to both cats and dogs. They are commonly mixed in with other fertilizers and herbicides to be used on plants and flowers. Always be aware of the ingredients of any fertilizer or herbicide that you use on your flowers or in your garden. Signs of poison include: nausea, drooling, tearing, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody vomit, lethargy, abdominal pain, pancreatitis, coma, hypothermia, hyperthermia, difficulty breathing, tremors, seizures, and death.
  • Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids are found in flea and tick preventatives. They are specially formulated to be safely used on our pets, but if used inappropriately, they can be deadly. Cats are more commonly poisoned by these drugs due to the misuse of flea and tick preventatives. When using flea and tick preventatives on your pets, ALWAYS make sure that you use the appropriately labeled medication for dogs and cats. NEVER use a dog preventative on a cat and vice versa. Always use your preventatives as they are prescribed by your veterinarian. Signs of poisoning include: drooling, vomiting, tremoring, hyper excitability, agitation, seizures, tremors, weakness, and difficulty breathing.

If you want more information regarding toxins for your four-legged baby, give us a call or visit