Household poisons dangerous to dogs: our top 5

Household poisons can be useful for a variety of household pests and problems but they can also be deadly to pets. It is important to know what the risks are before introducing them into your home; and to know what to do if your pet accidentally ingests one.

Household poisons: our top 5

1. Household poisons include human medicines

This is the most common and harmful poison ingested by dogs. From over-the-counter ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve) to prescription anti-inflammatories, pain pills, blood pressure tablets and antidepressants, human medication should be kept very far away from pets. These medications can cause anything from kidney failure to vomiting and seizures.

2. Veterinary medicines

This includes medication like tick and flea meds and dewormers which are meant to treat pets. If the dosage is wrong or your dog or cat swallows the medication rather than has it applied to the neck, these products can make your pet very ill. It is always best to ask your vet or EberVet Vetshop for advice on the right product to use. Puppies and kittens and lactating bitches are especially vulnerable, and you can never, ever give dog parasite control to a cat. Never ever give your pet more than the prescribed dose of a medication and never share a medication between pets in a household.

3. Household chemicals

In this time of Covid, we’ve become especially concerned about disinfecting everything but ingredients that make disinfectants effective make them toxic for companion animals: alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and chemical compounds that contain the word ‘phenol’ can be harmful to your pets.

Bleach, paint thinners, pool acid and anti-freeze are particularly dangerous. Symptoms include anything from stomach and breathing difficulties to chemical burns, renal failure and death. Keep your chemicals in a locked cupboard, above the ground.

4. Rat, ant and bug poisons

Unfortunately, many baits used to lure and kill rodents and ants can also look tasty to our pets, especially if they contain food (like peanut butter) as a lure.  If ingested by dogs, these poisons can be lethal. The scary thing about rat poison is that symptoms usually only start after 5 – 7 days so many owners won’t take their dog to the vet at first because the dog appears unaffected. That’s the wrong thing to do. Getting your dog to the vet as fast as possible is essential.  In some instances, the dog may have eaten the poisoned rodent, and not been directly exposed to the toxin. Explore alternative options like pet-safe bait stations.

5. Garden products

Every year our veterinary clinics admit dogs that have eaten snail and slug bait. Snail and slug bait poisoning (Metaldehyde poisoning) in dogs can lead to respiratory failure and death if not treated urgently. This is very dangerous to pets. It’s available in pelleted form, powder and liquid form. Dogs may eat the pellets or lick the liquid form off their paws. It is readily available at nurseries and supermarkets and is a very common type of poisoning seen by vets. But there are alternatives

Fertilisers, bone and blood meal, and organophosphates (like Malathion, used to control plant pests) are all potentially deadly to pets. Fertilisers may also contain herbicides, pesticides and fungicides which increases the risk of poisoning. The main dangers from bone meal are intestinal obstruction and pancreatitis, while blood meal can often contain iron which can prove to be toxic in large doses.

Symptoms of poisoning

• Drooling

• Vomiting

• Difficulty breathing

• Staggering and stumbling

• Tearing eyes

• Abnormal heart beat

• Collapse

• Urination

• Defecation

• Hypothermia

• Hyperthermia

• Difficulty breathing

• Tremors

• Seizures, and death.

What to do if your pet is poisoned

• Stay calm. It is important to act quickly, but rationally.

• First, gather up any of the potential poison or its packaging that remains — this may be helpful to your veterinarian and any outside experts who assist with the case. If your dog has vomited, collect the sample in case your veterinarian needs to see it.

• Get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

• If your dog has sudden nose bleeds, weakness, loss of appetite, is vomiting blood, has blood in urine or stool or pale gums, he or she may have ingested rat poison without you knowing it. Get your dog to the vet immediately!

Household poisons must be kept under lock and key

Keep all forms of poison locked away and out of reach of children and animals. If you need to use rat poison, rather use bait stations that are pet-friendly. These only allow access to rats and mice. If you find dead rats and mice around the house or garden, it is a good idea to dispose of them as quickly as possible where they cannot be eaten by pets or wild animals and birds.

When using harsh chemical disinfectants to clean floors, ensure dogs and cats are kept away from the area until it is dry. Dogs may lap at water, and cats may lick their wet paws thus ingesting the chemical.


Department of Health COVID-19 updates available at


We use cookies to personalise content, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also use information about your use of our site to determine our social media and other marketing needs.

To view our privacy policy, please click here and our cookie policy here.