Like our real children, there isn’t much we wouldn’t do for our fur babies. They give us so much love, and they trust us to keep them fed, sheltered, and safe. But did you know, you might be putting them in danger without even knowing it?

Some common household items can be toxic to pets. Here’s what you need to know to pet-proof your home.


In the Kitchen

Many of the foods we enjoy are not good for our pets. In fact, these foods can make them very ill. The things we throw into our trash are potential hazards, too.

Foods to avoid include coffee grounds, tea, chocolate, avocado, unbaked dough, grapes/raisins, salt, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, and anything with the artificial sweetener xylitol. Also, avoid alcohol. For a more detailed list, click here.

Watch out for choking hazards. Fruit pits are common hazards. Plastic bags can choke or suffocate your fur baby. Rubber bands and string can also be problematic.

Never give your dog cooked bones, such as from your family dinner. Cooked bones are brittle and can splinter in a pet’s mouth. Raw bones generally are safer. Avoid any bone that your dog could easily swallow whole. Also, stay away from pork bones which easily crack, and rib bones that can get stuck in your fur baby’s throat.


Steps to take:

    • Keep a list of harmful foods in your kitchen for easy reference.
    • Check ingredients before you give human food to your pet.
    • Supervise your pet whenever he/she is eating.
    • Secure your kitchen garbage so that pets cannot access it. Put it behind a closed cabinet door or buy locks for your trash cans.


In the Bathroom

From the medicine cabinet to the shower, bathrooms are filled with hazards for our furry friends. Remember that cats can jump up to high places, so store your hazardous items accordingly.

Medicines that are especially dangerous to our fur babies include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Acetaminophen is also poisonous. So are cold medicines, antihistamines, antidepressants, and prescription drugs.

Soaps and toothpaste can cause stomach upset if ingested. Commercial cleaning products, if stored in your bathroom, are a danger. Pets also like to drink from the toilet. If you’ve added a toilet cleaner to the water, that could make them sick.


Steps to take:

    • Store any hazardous materials behind closed cabinets and out of reach.
    • Use soap pumps rather than bars of soap.
    • Keep the toilet lid closed.
    • You can make your own natural cleaning solution of baking soda and vinegar. Mix one-part baking soda to two-parts vinegar (e.g. ¼ cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar). Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.



In the Living Room or Den


We spend a lot of time relaxing in our living rooms and dens, and don’t give a second thought to the items around us that could be dangerous. From plants to electric cords, there are plenty of hazards.

Plants are a top hazard, as many can be poisonous to pets if eaten. These include lilies, foxgloves, azaleas, rhododendrons, tulips, chrysanthemums, rhubarb leaves, shamrocks, fungi, autumn crocuses, aloe vera, and poinsettias. For a more detailed list, click here.

Scented potpourri and tobacco products also are toxic to pets. Surprisingly, pennies minted after 1982 are as well, as they contain zinc.

Keep your fur babies away from small items like buttons and jewelry which may be swallowed. Be extra careful around objects with open flames like candles and fireplaces. Teething puppies and curious kittens may go for electric cords, too.


Steps to take:

    • Remove any toxic plants.
    • Do a quick check daily for small items and other hazards.
    • Choose flameless candles to prevent pet burns. Secure your fireplace with a mesh screen to keep pets away.
    • Use furniture to block access to electric cords, or purchase pet-friendly cord protectors. You can also try an anti-chew spray available at most pet stores, or make your own from two parts apple cider vinegar to one-part white vinegar.



In the Bedroom

Bedrooms contain some of the same hazards mentioned earlier, but in addition, often have windows and sometimes balconies. Even though your cat may climb to the highest spot in your home, and jump down seemingly without effort, it is dangerous to let your cat near an open window or on the balcony. Falls from that height can severely injure and even kill them.

People also sometimes store their winter wool clothes in mothballs. They contain a high concentration of insect repellant and can be toxic if ingested. Even the fumes can affect your pets.


Steps to take:

    • Keep your windows closed when possible and definitely if you are not around to supervise your pet.
    • If you open a window, see if you can do so from the top only. Make sure the window screen is secure, and cannot be pushed out easily.
    • Do not allow cats on balconies or to sun themselves on the window sill of an open window. If startled, the cat could lose his/her balance.
    • Do not store your clothes in mothballs, or if you do, keep them up in an attic or a place that is inaccessible to pets.


In the Laundry Room

Those fabric softener sheets that you toss into the dryer to reduce static cling are a danger to your fur baby. They are infused with chemicals that can make them sick. Commercial laundry soap is also toxic. Those pods that attract kids also interest pets. Finally, washers and dryers are favorite hiding places for kitties.


Steps to take:

    • Choose brands of detergent and fabric softener sheets that use plant-based ingredients and are safe for pets. Avoid pods.
    • Store all supplies behind a cabinet and/or out of reach of curious pets.
    • Always check your washer and dryer before you use it.
    • If you have a door to the laundry room, close it so that pets don’t get in while you’re not there.



In the Garage

We store a lot in our garage, and many of the items are not good for pets. These include antifreeze, alkaline batteries, herbicides, insecticides, wood glue and adhesives, and paint. In addition, warm cars are favorite places for cats to nap on a cold winter’s night.


Steps to take:

    • Store any chemicals and hazardous materials out of reach of your pet.
    • When possible, purchase pet-safe alternatives such as de-icing salt that won’t harm their paws.
    • Check for animals in and around your car before you drive it. Give the hood of your car a couple of hard knocks or honk your horn before you start your engine.
    • Never keep your pet in the garage, even safely in a crate. Garages have dangerous temperatures (low and high) as well as fumes and other hazards that could affect their health.


Finally, hazards also appear during the holidays. Check out these articles for Christmas and winter holiday safety, Halloween safety, and fireworks safety for your fur babies.

If you suspect your pet came in contact with a household danger, call your vet immediately. You may also reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.

And for more tips on how to be a responsible pet owner, click here.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


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