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Common Household Pet Dangers

As a responsible pet owner, it's essential to create a safe environment for your furry friends.

Many everyday items, including seemingly harmless plants to household staples like food and cleaning products, can be hazardous to your pets. By familiarsing yourself with common household dangers, you can take proactive steps to safeguard your four-legged friends from potential harm.

If your pet has had access to, or is showing any symptoms associated with any of the items listed below, please seek veterinary help immediately.

Toxic Foods 


Toxin: Theobromine & caffeine

The more cocoa that is in the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Cooking chocolate is seven times more toxic than milk chocolate.

Symptoms: Seen within hours of ingestion and can include excitability, fast heart rate, tremoring, vomiting, diarrhoea and seizures.

Onion & Garlic

Toxin: Disulfides

Symptoms: May be seen within 24 hours to several days after ingestion. Include pale gums, fast heart rate, rapid breathing, depression, weakness, red coloured urine, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Macadamia Nuts

Toxin: Unknown toxic compound

Symptoms: Seen within 12 hours of ingestion. Include weakness, depression, vomiting, tremoring, pain, inability to stand up and a pale gum colour.

Grapes, Raisins, Sultanas

Toxin: Unknown toxic compound

Symptoms: Include depression, vomiting, a disinterest in food, pain, diarrhoea, increased drinking or urination. Signs are due to kidney failure.

Yeast Dough

Toxin: Ethanol – heat causes dough to expand in the stomach and the process produces alcohol.

Symptoms: Include abdominal pain, bloating of the abdomen, difficulty walking, depression and coma. 

Chewing Gum

Toxin: Xylitol

Symptoms: Seen within 30 minutes to 12 hours from ingestion. Include vomiting, depression, difficulty standing or walking, seizures and possible liver failure.

Household Toxins


Toxin: Paracetamol

Cats are more sensitive to the medication.

Symptoms: Include blue coloured gums, difficulty breathing and swelling of the face, depression, vomiting and weakness. 


Toxin: Aspirin

Symptoms: Seen within 4 to 6 hours to several days after ingestion. Include depression, vomiting with or without blood, a disinterest in food, rapid breathing, weakness, seizures and coma. Toxicity may lead to liver and kidney failure.


Toxin: Nicotine

Symptoms: Usually within 15 to 45 minutes of ingestion include excitation, fastbreathing, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, twitching, depression, a fast heart rate, shallow breathing and can progress to collapsing and coma. 


Toxin: Naphthalene

Symptoms: Include vomiting, pale gums, fast heart rate, rapid breathing, depression, weakness, red coloured urine and seizures. Severe toxicity can cause liver and kidney failure.

Coolant / Anti-Freeze

Toxin: Ethylene Glycol

Symptoms: Seen 30 minutes to 3 days after ingestion. Includes nausea, vomiting, depression, poor coordination, seizures, diarrhoea, dehydration and coma. Symptoms are due to kidney failure.

Backyard Nasties

Wild Mushroom

Toxin: Unknown toxic compound

Symptoms: Include depression, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, increased tear production, poor coordination, inappropriate toileting and collapse. In severe cases, toxicity can lead to liver and kidney failure.


Toxin: Unknown toxic compound in Lilium and Hemerocallin spp.

The entire plant is toxic. Cats are especially susceptible to the toxicity.

Symptoms: Include vomiting (often contains pieces of lily) and signs associated with kidney failure including disinterest in food, depression, vomiting and no urination.

Snail Pellets

Toxin: Methaldehyde, methiocarb or iron EDTA

Symptoms: Include depression, drooling, poor coordination, vomiting with or without blood, diarrhoea, passing black or bloody stool, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tremors and seizures. Toxicity may also cause liver failure. Even products claiming to be pet safe can be toxic.

Rat Poison

Toxin: Various – most commonly brodifacourns, bromadiolones, diphacinones, diphenadiones, chlorphacinones, valones, pidones, warfarin and courmarin.

Symptoms: Seen 1 to 7 days after ingestion. Include lack of interest in food, coughing, depression, weakness, pale gums, black tarry stool, a bloody nose, vomiting blood, urinating blood, bleeding from the gums, breathing difficulty, lameness or excessive bleeding from wounds.

Know your nearest emergency vet 

Pet emergencies can happen at any time. The Animal Referral & Emergency Network has emergency vets available 365 days a year, including public holidays. Find your nearest location here.