Keeping Your Pet Safe from Winter Household Items

Courtesy of Chris Vaughan / Flickr

Courtesy of Chris Vaughan / Flickr

While we know to steer our beloved pets away from items like chocolate and household cleaners, there are lesser-known hazards around the home that our cats and dogs can easily digest. During the colder months, our four-legged friends are often able to spend less time in the great outdoors, leading to the build-up of pent up energy and mischief. To keep your pets safe and sound during this season, make sure they don’t digest the following items.


Both dogs and cats are opportunistic eaters who will occasionally try new things. If left within reach, many wintertime plants are toxic to our pets. The popular poinsettia, for example, can cause nausea and vomiting if consumed. However, it is not nearly as dangerous as lilies are for cats. Swallowing a single leaf can result in sudden kidney failure in our feline friends; if you own breeds that are particularly susceptible to this condition, like Persian or Siamese, make sure these beautiful but dangerous blooms are elevated out of reach. Pet parents should contact their veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Helpline ASAP if any of the aforementioned plants are ingested.


With people not going “out on the town” as much due to blistery weather, there may be an increased amount of booze around the house. While a few extra mugs of eggnog won’t kill you, it can do serious damage to your pets, especially diminutive breeds. Remember, alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, which means its effects will hit a small animal almost immediately. Even a few laps of an intoxicating drink could result in a deadly case of alcohol poisoning. Common symptoms of potentially dangerous inebriation include vomiting, seizures, and respiratory failure. Since many cocktails sugary and sweet, pets will imbibe them if given the opportunity; and once started, a cat or dog will continue to lap the alcohol up until stopped.


While we may not enjoy the freezing temperatures and icy conditions winter brings about, there’s no denying that our stomachs longingly rumble at the thought of cakes, pies and other delectable sweets. As every dog pet parent knows, canines must steer clear of chocolate; even a small amount of the world’s favorite flavor can cause vomiting and diarrhea, while larger quantities may precipitate seizures and heart arrhythmias. But what you may not know is that raisins, currants, and grapes can be every bit as dangerous. Found in fruitcakes and many other treats, these ingredients can cause kidney failure in dogs.

Liquid Potpourri

A home redolent nutmeg or pine may be inviting to guests, but it poses a risk to your pets. When heated in a simmer pot, these scented oils can cause serious chemical burns that have claimed the lives of cats in the past. Although not quite as sensitive to these hot oils, dogs can be harmed by them as well. The only way to prevent an injury with 100% certainty is to keep these items out of reach. Do not place them on low-lying tables or shelves that pets have easy access to.

Manufactured Fire Logs

It simply wouldn’t be a toasty winter night without a roaring fire. Unfortunately, the most popular commercial fire starters and logs contain ingredients that can be harmful to pets. Although the waxes and oils in these products are not chemically toxic, the sawdust can cause serious intestinal issues, including blockage and bloating. As you might expect, the seriousness of these issues depend on how much of the log your pet consumes; large dog have been known to eat entire logs in no time. If this occurs, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Control immediately. Even though your furry friend will almost certainly regurgitate the indigestible sawdust in these products, it is important to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Other household items causing problems for your pets?

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