March is Pet Poison Prevention Month, so we want to share a story about a young pup learning about common household toxins from his friend, to bring awareness to this important topic. Follow Colby’s nose as he sniffs out common toxins around his home, and learns from his older housemate, Jack.

A toxic adventure

Colby the Jack Russell terrier pup was showing off to his housemate Jack, as he spat out a plastic bag filled with homemade trail mix and then began drooling as he sniffed the mixture of dark chocolate chunks, macadamia nuts, and cereal pieces.

Colby: “Hey Jack! Look at this tasty snack I found in the kids’ backpacks today!” 

But Jack, an older mixed-breed dog, had lived a long life and knew all about avoiding dangerous items, because his owners had many times said “No” and “Leave it.”

Jack: “Colby! No! Don’t think about eating that! 

“Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can do more than upset your stomach. It can lead to heart problems and seizures if you eat too much.

“Sugar-free chocolate sweetened with xylitol can drastically drop your blood pressure, or cause liver damage. And, those macadamia nuts are just as dangerous. They can make your hind legs weak and cause tremors.” 


Colby: “Oh wow, Jack, I had no idea. I knew that grapes were off limits, since Mom told me to leave them alone when a few rolled off the counter and onto the floor.” 

Jack: “That’s right, Colby. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in pets, so stick to fruits like berries and bananas if you want a sweet snack. You also need to avoid garlic and onion, which can damage your red blood cells.”


Colby, thinking aloud: “It sounds like the kitchen can be a dangerous place for a pup. Or, in this case, a backpack.”

Jack: “Too true, Colby. And, while you need to avoid several toxic foods, you also need to stay away from quite a few other household toxins. The bathroom is a great example of a dangerous place where you need to keep your wits about you. 

“For example, cleaning chemicals can make you sick and cause vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation, respiratory issues, and esophageal ulcers. If you gulp down the contents of a spilled pill bottle, you could be in serious trouble. Prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), and veterinary medications can all be dangerous if you ingest the wrong drug, or chow down on too many of your tasty heartworm prevention chews.”


Colby: “It’s a good thing I steer clear of the bathroom, just in case they try to toss me in the tub for a bath. I didn’t realize there were so many other things to watch out for in the bathroom. What other toxins might I run across in the house, Jack?” 

Jack: “It’s great to learn from my experiences, Colby, so let me tell you about some home improvement products you need to stay away from. If our family gets the urge to remodel or redecorate, do not stick your nose in paint, glue, grout, or spackle, which can make you sick.

“Also, when you go outside into the yard to help dig holes in the flowerbed or garden, watch out for certain poisonous plants. Tulips, azaleas, rhododendrons, oleander, cyclamen, amaryllis, chrysanthemums, and a number of other plants can make you vomit or have diarrhea, cause heart problems or neurological issues, or potentially kill you.

“And, don’t forget about protecting our feline friends, who are highly sensitive to lilies, and can develop acute kidney failure from ingesting only a few leaves or petals.” 


Colby:“Thanks for telling me what plants I need to watch out for, Jack! I enjoy rooting around outside, although I know I’m not supposed to. Blocking off parts of the yard and garden that have been treated with fertilizers and herbicides helps me know the areas I need to avoid, too. And, I understand that I’m kept out of the garage completely for my own protection, since there are so many things I can get into, from sweet-tasting antifreeze to those weird green blocks hidden under shelves.

“I know my family is keeping me safe by keeping me out.”

Jack: “Congratulations, Colby. Great job learning the toxic substances in our home, and for learning that the best way to stay safe is to listen to our family. Stick close to me, pup, and I won’t steer you wrong.”

Top 10 pet toxins

Jack did a wonderful job describing the many toxins pets can get into around the home, yard, and garage. To keep your furry pal safe from danger, take a look around and ensure the top 10 most common pet toxins are securely stored away:

  • Human over-the-counter (OTC) medications (e.g., ibuprofen, vitamin D, herbal supplements)
  • Human prescription medications (e.g., antidepressants, cardiac medications, ADHD medications)
  • Food (e.g., protein bars and shakes, xylitol, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins)
  • Chocolate
  • Plants
  • Household toxicants (e.g., cleaning products, paint)
  • Veterinary products (e.g., chewable supplements)
  • Rodenticides
  • Insecticides (e.g., fleas, ticks, indoor insects)
  • Garden products (e.g., fertilizers, herbicides)

If your pet doesn’t have an older housemate like Jack to steer them away from household toxins, they may get into trouble. Pet-proof your home, and call our Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital team for help if your four-legged friend still manages to be exposed to a toxin.