Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on April 12, 2021

Lilies, Holly, and Other Plants


While any kind of plant material may upset your pet’s stomach, some are more dangerous than others. A few common ones that can make them sick include lilies, mistletoe, holly, tulip and daffodil bulbs, azaleas, rhododendrons, and chrysanthemums. Even small amounts of certain types of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.

Rock Salt


You might use this in the winter to melt ice on your sidewalk or driveway, but if your pet gets it on their paws or fur and licks or chews it off, it can cause vomiting and, in severe cases, spasms and kidney damage. Clean your pet’s paws, legs, and belly after they walk anywhere there’s rock salt.

Tobacco Products


Cigarettes, nicotine patches, and other things with nicotine are seriously harmful to pets. They can cause severe vomiting, a fast heart rate, a drop in blood pressure, and seizures and can be life-threatening. Keep all tobacco products out of your pet’s reach.

Medications and Vitamins


Over-the-counter and prescription medications meant for people aren’t necessarily safe for pets. Aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, decongestants, stomach medicines, birth control, diet pills, and vitamins can cause internal bleeding and other dangerous symptoms. Call your vet or poison control right away if your pet gets into any of your medicine.

Breath Fresheners


Mints and sugar-free gums that give you fresh breath can be harmful to dogs. The problem is a sweetener called xylitol, which may make your dog’s blood sugar drop. That can lead to loss of coordination or seizures. If your dog has bad breath, talk to your vet about safe ways to make it better.

Bug Spray and Sunscreen


Most mosquito repellents have DEET, which isn’t recommended for use on cats and dogs. They’re sensitive to the chemical, and it can cause tremors, seizures, and even be life-threatening. Ask your vet for a safer way to keep mosquitoes away from your pet. If your pet eats sunscreen, it can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Essential Oils


These give off a lovely scent, but cats are very sensitive to them, especially tea tree, pennyroyal, wintergreen, birch, sage, wormwood, and citrus oils. Essential oils can cause breathing trouble if your cat inhales them or skin problems if they come into contact with them. If your pet eats one, it can cause stomach and liver problems or seizures.



Some bar soaps, liquid soaps, face washes, and toothpastes have a detergent that can be harmful to pets. Eating them can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, loose stools, or diarrhea. If your pet eats an entire bar of soap, it can lead to a blockage in their intestines. Soap with essential oils can be especially dangerous.

Household Chemicals


Even in small amounts, antifreeze can be life-threatening to pets, and paint thinners or solvents can irritate or burn their skin. They also can burn their digestive tract if your pet drinks them. While ordinary house paint may only cause an upset stomach, some specialty paints have heavy metals that can do more damage. Call a poison control center or your veterinarian right away if your pet comes into contact with any of these chemicals.

Laundry Supplies


If your pet swallows bleach, laundry detergent, or fabric softeners, that can lead to drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Bleach can cause chemical burns if it comes in contact with their skin. If they chew on a dryer sheet, it can damage the tissue in their mouth, and it can block their intestines if they eat it. Cats, in particular, are sensitive to fabric softener sheets.

Lawn and Garden Supplies


If you’re putting fertilizer, weed killer, insecticide, or any other chemical on your yard or garden, keep your pets off of it. Follow the product instructions for how long they should stay away. If the chemicals get on your pet’s fur and they lick them off, they could get an upset stomach or a more serious problem. If you think your pet may have been poisoned, call the vet right away.



Really strong glues like polyurethane adhesives and wood glues can cause a problem for pets if they swallow them. The glue can form a mass in their esophagus or stomach. If you think your pet may have eaten some type of glue, call a poison control center or your vet right away.



Whether you’re trying to get rid of fleas on your pet or mice in your house, insecticides and pesticides can be dangerous for pets. And if flea medication is labeled for dogs only, don’t use it on cats or other animals -- it can be toxic to them.

Bathroom Cleaning Supplies


Everyone loves a clean bathroom -- just be sure to keep your cleaning supplies out of your pet’s reach. Drain cleaner and tub and tile cleaner can be toxic and even life-threatening. Grout sealer can be harmful as well. Some types may only cause a mild upset stomach, but other types, especially alkaline ones, can lead to drooling, vomiting, and sores in your pet’s mouth.

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American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: “Poisonous Household Products.”

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: “Poisonous Plants.”

American Veterinary Medical Association: “Household Hazards.”

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: “What Are the Symptoms of Antifreeze Poisoning in Cats?”

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: “Rock Salt Poisoning.”

American Humane: “Pets & Poisons.”