Things That Are Poisonous to Dogs

There are many things that are toxic to dogs, including seemingly harmless everyday human food items. Here’s a list of just some of the things that are harmful or poisonous to dogs, cats and other pets:


  • Antifreeze, screenwash and some de-icers may contain ethylene glycol – a substance that is highly attractive to dogs and cats, and lethal if consumed. Even consumption of a small quantity can be life threatening.
  • Storage: Keep these items stored out of your pet’s reach, clean up any spillages straight away and dispose of old containers properly.
  • Symptoms: Signs such as staggering movements, tiredness, increased heart rate, continuous vomiting, or dehydration may suggest that your pet has ingested ethylene glycol.
  • What to do: Even if you only suspect your pet has consumed antifreeze etc., take him or her to the vet’s immediately for intensive treatment; otherwise it could be too late.


  • Chocolate (and tea) naturally contains the stimulant theobromine.
  • The level of theobromine in chocolate varies depending on the type and quality of the product. Dark chocolate and cocoa contain high levels of theobromine.
  • Symptoms include increase in heart rate, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive thirst, high temperature, tremors, drooling or convulsions.

Gardening and Household Items

There are many everyday items that can cause problems for your pets, including:

  • Slug pellets that contain metaldehyde are highly toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Anticoagulant rodent poisons that are designed to prevent blood clotting can cause internal bleeding that may not be noticeable for several days.
  • Creosote
  • Bleach
  • Ant powders
  • BBQ lighter fluid
  • Batteries
  • Bonemeal

Human Foods

  • Grapes, currants, sultanas and raisins are highly toxic to dogs, causing vomiting and diarrhoea initially, then kidney failure.
  • Xylitol is a sweetener found in many things including sugar-free gum and sweets – and it is toxic to dogs (and cats), causing liver failure.
  • Some fruit seeds and stones are harmful, including apple pips, and apricot, peach and cherry stones.
  • Onion, leeks, chives (cooked or raw) contain sulphur compounds that can damage red blood cells, causing anaemia.
  • Sugar, alcohol or caffeine should not be given to your pet.
  • Macadamia nuts.
  • Also watch out for food waste recycling bins and compost heaps. Rotting food can grow a type of mould that produces mycotoxins – highly toxic to dogs and cats. The toxins get very quickly into the blood and the brain, causing tremors and muscle contractions. Get your pet to the vet immediately.

Human Medicines

  • Keep all drugs out of the reach of pets.
  • Even if the active substance in a human medicine is used in dog medicines, the dose is likely to be very different for a dog – this also depends on the dog’s size and breed.
  • Never give your dog any medicine that is not prescribed for him/her by a vet, or without being told by a vet that it’s safe to administer.
  • Ibuprofen is particularly poisonous to dogs, causing comiting, diaarhoea, gastric ulceration and kidney failure. Other NSAID drugs are also poisonous to dogs.
  • Paracetemol can be prescribed by vets, but intake of an inappropriate amount can cause liver problems.

Nicotine and E-Cigarettes

  • Nicotine poisoning acts very quickly and can be fatal, especially when large doses are involved.
  • E-cigarettes and refills contain sufficient quantities of nicotine to kill a small animal very quickly.
  • Eating nicotine-containing products (tobacco, nicotine replacement gums and patches, agricultural pesticides and e-cigarettes) is potentially hazardous.
  • If you suspect your pet has chewed or eaten nicotine, it is vital that you contact a vet for treatment as soon as possible.


Many plants are toxic to dogs if eaten – and dogs do like to nibble on greenery. Consumption of toxic plants can cause a variety of problems from an upset stomach to death. Highly-toxic plants include:

  • Azalea
  • Bluebells
  • Caster beans
  • Elephants’ ears
  • Foxglove
  • Heliotrope
  • Jessamine
  • Jimson Weed
  • Larkspur
  • Lilies
  • Mistletoe leaves and stems
  • Mother-in-law’s tongue
  • Ragwort

Some bulbs can also be fatal to dogs if eaten, including daffodil, amaryllis and narcissus bulbs.

Taking Action 

  • Keep all harmful substances out of a pet’s reach and be careful when selecting plants for the house or garden, especially if your pet likes to chew on plants.
  • Don’t let dogs scavenge and eat anything when they are out on walks.
  • Always contact your vet for information and advice regarding any potentially hazardous substances that your dog has come into contact with. Let them know what they have eaten, how much and when.
  • Keep a sample of the item/substance if possible – veterinary practices have access to a 24-hour Veterinary Poisons Information Service which can help identify the right treatment. It helps them act faster if they know what your dog has eaten.
  • Never purposely make your dog sick unless your vet advises you to do so. Some substances are caustic and can cause further damage if regurgitated.

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