Pets are just like children in more ways than one.  They are adorable, funny, sweet, loving, but also curious – and they love to stick things in their mouths.  This curious nature is, unsurprisingly, exactly where the old idiom “curiosity killed the cat” came from.  Combine that with a pet’s wandering nose and active mouth and you can have a serious problem.  So, what do avocados, pennies, potato chips, and underwear have in common? Here is a list of 10 seemingly harmless yet common household items that can be dangerous for your pet:

  1. Peanut Butter Jars – Peanut butter is delicious and healthy for humans and pets alike, but the jars are what can cause the issues (not to mention excess peanut butter consumption can also potentially cause pancreatitis, vomiting and upset stomach).  The real issue though is, believe it or not, your dog or cat’s head can get stuck in the peanut butter jar and they can suffocate.
  2. Chip Bags, Plastic Grocery Bags, Cereal Boxes – Similar to peanut butter jars, chip bags and plastic grocery bags can create both obstruction issues internally if ingested and suffocation risks.  Before you leave a bag of chips or bag of groceries out, remember that Fido and Fluffy think they are fun “crinkly” sounding toys filled with delicious morsels, and we have heard of several cases of death by suffocation from these types of bags.  Cats in particular love to climb into small, confined spaces and have a particular love for boxes.  Be sure to keep an eye on Fluffy when he or she is playing in a box.
  3. Poison – This seems obvious, but the places these common household items are found are more easily accessible than you may think:  Antifreeze, D-Con, Batteries, Acetaminophen (like Tylenol), Ibuprofen (like Advil), Detergent, Cleaners, Mothballs, Inhalers, non-prescription and prescription medications, Cigarettes, Windshield Wiper Fluid.  Though these items may taste delicious to your pets, these common items found in most people’s homes can cause anything from dizziness to liver failure.
  4. Human Foods – There are a multitude of foods that are good for humans that are not so good for dogs and cats as they can be toxic.  Some of the most common items found in the kitchen that you should keep put away and out of reach are: onions, garlic, unbaked bread dough (it will “cook” and expand in your pets stomach), avocado, grapes, raisins and chocolate.
  5. Pennies – Yes, you heard correctly.  Pennies.  Any penny made after 1982 is made up of at least 97% zinc which can cause toxicity in dogs and cats. One of our patients who unfortunately was unable to recover after ingesting pennies.  They can be in the bottom of your purse, fall from your pockets or be in the couch cushions, so be wary of this strangely deadly coin.
  6. Lilies – Poinsettias were always known as a poisonous plant for dogs and cats, but this is actually not true.  Lilies on the other hand are very toxic and can be enticing to pets because of their aroma.
  7. Sugar-Free Gum – Xylitol (commonly found in sugar-free gum) is a natural sugar alcohol manufactured from birch trees or other natural xylan-rich sources and is found in popular brands such as Trident, Orbit, Icebreakers, and Altoids.  Your dog’s and/or cat’s pancreas is fooled into releasing a huge amount of insulin which then triggers the onset of acute hypoglycemia (extremely low blood sugar), which can lead to liver failure and even death.  The onset of acute hypoglycemia occurs very quickly in dogs especially.
  8. Underwear & Toys – Dogs love underwear.  No need to go into the exact reasons why but if they are ingested, they can cause an obstruction in your dog or cat’s intestinal tract which can lead to internal bleeding, tearing, and potential need for surgery if it isn’t passed naturally.  Both children’s and pet’s toys can be ripped apart or ingested whole (especially small pieces like soldiers or Legos) which could end up in a trip to the veterinary emergency room.
  9. Feminine Products – Feminine products are meant to expand when wet, so imagine what would happen if your dog or cat got a hold of it.  Yes, expansion and serious internal blockages can occur.\
  10. Foil & Trash – Though this may seem obvious, dogs in particular have such strong noses that they are very attracted to all of the smells coming from the trash can.  Try to keep your trash in a cabinet, drawer, or with a locking lid to avoid any messes to clean up, and a potential trip to the vet’s office.