There are many toxins in the household. Know what the toxins are, and make sure that your pet cannot have access to any of these. Please comment below and share your experience with other pet lovers if you have had to learn the hard way about TOXINS!

1.1 Toxins and Poisons

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control has the world’s largest database of poisons to pets and animals and every year they publish their Top 10 lists.

Consistently, human over-the-counter and prescription medications rank first and second and on the list every year. Advil, ibuprofen, Tylenol – Dogs eat everything. They love getting into snacks and candy. It’s really common for dogs to ingest entire bottles of Advil and other medications.

Medication toxicities

Never give any human medications to your pet without first consulting a veterinarian. These could be fatal. Some examples:

  • A single dose of Aleve (naproxen) can be fatal to a dog
  • Tylenol is very toxic to cats!
  • Medical creams (Voltaren, zinc creams, hormone creams) can be very toxic to pets
  • Non-drowsy formulations of antihistamines contain dangerous uppers, and these can cause seizures and cardiac arrhythmias even death.

Recreational drug intoxication

Recreational drug intoxication is the most common emergency that we see here in Whistler. Most of the time these exposures happen in public recreation areas, like parks, bike trails and hiking trails, campsites and beaches, so if you’re with a pet in one of these public areas make sure that you supervise them very closely.

Toxic foods

Toxic foods ranks third. There are so many foods in a household that can be toxic to your pet:

  • Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in everything these days. This can cause liver failure in dogs.
  • Grapes and raisins can cause kidney injury in dogs
  • Onions and garlic can cause hemolytic anemia
  • Chocolate, because of the caffeine-like compounds, can lead to cardiac arrhythmia seizures and even death.
  • Unleavened bread: If a dog ingests enough of unleavened bread they can become intoxicated because of the alcohol that the dough produced can swell in their stomach leading to major problems and complications.
  • Mould, like the mould that grows on mouldy cheese, can contain toxins that can cause neurologic signs and tremors.
  • There are other foods in the household that can pose hazards.

Veterinary label products

Pets can also become intoxicated by veterinary label products if they’re not given appropriately or according to the label. Because a lot of chewable medications are flavoured, dogs get into their own medications and eat the entire bottle. This can be very dangerous. As well as ivermectin, a deworming medication used in livestock flea products. Especially dog products that are applied to cats can be very dangerous.

Household toxins

  • Ethylene glycol which is also called antifreeze
  • Engine coolant can cause kidney failure and death
  • Paint adhesives and spackle. There’s quite a few dogs every year that ingest glue and other adhesives and some of these can be very dangerous.
  • Pennies can cause zinc toxicity.
  • Playdough has excessive amounts of salt in it and this can actually lead to neurologic problems and death.
  • Carbon monoxide (a toxic gas): cars left running in garages, heaters, furnaces, propane stoves.
  • Rodent poisons should be avoided all together. Many pets end up in our emergency every year for ingesting rodent poisons that were left out either by businesses or in residential areas. These poisons are not only a threat to pets and small children but they are also a major threat to wildlife. Rodent poisons are now a leading cause of death in birds of prey like owls and eagles and even the chicks can die from being fed rodents that had ingested poison.
  • Toxic Plants:
    • Lilies. If you have a cat just don’t bring any lilies into your home. These can cause kidney failure. Even just a couple licks of the pollen or the water can make your cat very sick or even die.
    • Cycad palms can cause liver failure in dogs.
    • Poisonous mushrooms.
  • Insect poisons, especially snail baits.

We’ll cover in more depth in the third section of our curriculum how to respond to intoxications and what to do.

Related videos:

Here are the 3 best pieces of advice from the emergency vet that could save your pet’s life:


If you wait too long, it could be too late. This is especially true for concerns such as laboured breathing, pale gums and weakness. You know your pet best, so if you are worried or concerned, “when in doubt, check it out!”


Learn as much as possible about dangers that face your pet, such as household poisons, seemingly harmless objects (such as toys, clothing, garbage and rocks), other animals, and vehicles. Pets are like toddlers and they need a responsible adult/babysitter to protect them from danger. Puppies and kittens need to start their vaccines at 8 WEEKS (and they need boosters too!) to protect them from deadly diseases.


Have a plan in place, know your nearest emergency clinic, have the ASPCA phone number on speed dial. Know basic first aid training and CPR. But MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE FINANCIALLY PREPARED. The cost of medical treatment in an emergency, and the owners’ ability to pay for it, is probably the most important factor that determines whether a pet will receive the medical care it needs. The best way to protect yourself is to have good medical insurance for your pet. Do your research.

**REMEMBER**: WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM, with the best interest of the patient as everyone’s first priority. Let your vet do what he/she does best, and don’t try to grab the steering wheel and obstruct your vet from doing his/her job. We are all in the same car, we are all headed to the same place, but only one of us has the driver’s license (meaning, only the vet has the medical training and background to “drive the car”).

Please remember to spay/ neuter your pet, and to donate to your local animal shelter- they really need your help!


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