13 Hazardous Household Products for Your Pets

Like many people you probably dedicate a certain amount of time weekly to house cleaning. Pet owners inevitably do so, if their pets live indoors or come in and out of the house off and on during the day.

But many household cleaning products are not pet-safe regardless of if you own a cat, dog, or even a pet parakeet or bird species.

Consider that both dogs and cats regularly navigate the floor to look for fallen tidbits, so ingesting bits of food that have fallen on a pavement treated with dangerous chemicals may translate into ingesting some as well, especially if your pet licks the floor. 

You and all of your pets breathe in the air inside your home. So, cleaning products that create or dispense dangerous fumes can be inhaled.

Hazardous Household Products for Your Pets

Numerous household cleaning products are dangerous to our pets. Ideally, they need to be eliminated. But you still need to clean, especially with animals!

Natural alternatives can assist you in keeping your house clean while protecting the health of your pets, and your own for that matter.

Products that cannot be substituted with a natural alternative, need to be stored where they are not available to a curious pet. 

As a pet parent, you also should recognize signs if your beloved pet has ingested a poisonous substance or toxin.

Household Products that Are Hazardous to Pets

Cleaning products contain lots of chemicals among their ingredients. Eating, drinking, or licking these products can cause incredible harm to your pet’s digestive tract, respiratory organs, or even their skin and fur coats with irritations and chemical burns.

Damage can range from angry red skin irritation to mouth and throat burning and swelling to hemorrhaging internally.

Many household cleaners use a variety of standard chemicals in their formulas to guarantee not only superficial cleaning but disinfecting an area as well.

Some of these chemicals are poisonous but are downright dangerous even in the case of simple skin contact. 

So, what are the types of household products that you should be aware of when pets are members of your family and live indoors or have access to your home?

1. Antibacterial Products and Cleaners

The chemical Formaldehyde is a popular ingredient in products advertised as antibacterial.

Even though formaldehyde is known to be carcinogenic for humans it can nonetheless, be found included among ingredients with other names that include glycol, formic aldehyde, oxide, methanol, formalin, or methyl aldehyde.

2. Bleach

Chlorine is the main ingredient found in bleach and can be noted among the ingredients in numerous detergents for dishwashers as well as washing machines.

The use of bleach is incredibly popular in bathroom products such as toilet bowl cleaning liquids and gels. Its also often added to all-purpose cleaners.

3. Disinfectants

Drain cleaners, oven cleaners, floor cleaners and waxes, and window spray cleaners will often contain ammonia because it is a fantastic disinfectant.


But ammonia is dangerous, and when handled can be the cause of eye and vision damage, skin damage, and lung damage when fumes are inhaled.

Imagine your canary inhaling ammonia fumes if you’re cleaning nearby. It will do considerable damage internally if ingested.

4. Dryer sheets and Fabric Softeners 

These products utilized in washers and dryers contain what are known as cationic surfactants with chemicals benzalkonium chloride and cetrimonium bromide among ingredients.

They are poisonous for your family pets. Skin contact alone can cause your dog or cat severe burns or in best-case scenarios, a skin irritation.

Eating, chewing, or licking these products can damage the kidneys, lungs, and your pet’s central nervous system as well as ulcers.

Puppies and young dogs that are prone to chewing during teething are a great risk if they happen upon a dryer sheet to chew on.

5. Fragrances 

The pleasantly clean smells emanating from household cleaning products may use Phthalates with the most well-known being BPA.

Phthalates have been connected to cancer, developmental delay, reproductive issues, and even weight gain.

6. Degreasers or Grease Cutters

Glycol Ethers are chemicals used to remove grease when cleaning. Check the ingredient list on products for 2-Methoxyethanol, 2-Ethoxyethanol, or 2-Butoxyethanol. Glycol ethers have been linked to birth defects, cancer, and development issues.

Products Toxic to Pets Found in Most Homes and Garages

7. Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol)

Antifreeze is one of the worst substances that a pet can ingest, even in the tiniest of amounts such as a lick. It appeals because it tastes sweet and has no odor.

If you store antifreeze in your garage, store it where your pet cannot reach it. Should you suspect that your pet has even licked a drop off the pavement, go to the vet. Antifreeze is a cause of kidney failure and can be lethal.

8. Fertilizers, Herbicides and Weed Pre- and Post-Emergents 

These products will usually be sold as granules or liquids. Chemical-based fertilizers and grass control products must be used with great care.

If your pet spends a good part of the day in the yard, it should remain indoors during the application of these substances. Some organic options are available and will specify that they are pet friendly.

A pet that has been poisoned from yard and gardening products may exhibit drooling, vomiting, seizures or tremors, or diarrhea and loose stools.

9. Gasoline, Kerosene, Oils

Gasoline, kerosene, and oils are stored in garages or basements for use on cars, power tools, machinery equipment, and backyard grills to name a few.

Your pet must not have any contact with these substances. This includes inhalation,  ingestion, or physical contact. Symptoms of ingestion may include abdominal pain, collapse, lesions, drooling, and mouth ulcers and lesions.

10. Heavy Metals

Lead and zinc which qualify as heavy metals are poisonous. 

11. Ice Melting Products

If you live in an area with a harsh winter climate, these chemical products are applied to streets and sidewalks where a dog may walk or roam.

Calcium salts, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride are a few of the hazardous substances found in de-icing products and applications.

If your pet plays in the snow, he or she may get some of these chemicals on paws and then swallow them when licking. Signs of swallowing may include diarrhea, labored breathing, vomiting, and irregular heartbeat.

12. Paints and Turpentine

Paints including water-based, oil-based, latex, or unleaded all feature some degree of toxicity. If your home, fencing, deck, or other has been freshly painted pets should not have access and the area must be well-ventilated to avoid inhalation of fumes.

All paint products must be placed out of reach, including turpentine and paint thinners. Nausea, respiratory difficulty from inhalation, a lack of muscular coordination, and vomiting may indicate ingestion and poisoning.

13. Pest Control products

Pest control products are used in areas that are generally not inhabited like a basement, an attic, cupboards, under porches and roofing, and between wall spaces, an inquisitive cat or dog attracted by the presence of mice may manage to enter these areas.

Pest control articles like insecticides, mothballs, and rodenticides used for mice, rats, and rodents are a hazard and should be treated as such.

Make sure when using these products that your pet cannot gain access to them. Diarrhea, lethargy, difficulty breathing, pale gums, seizures or tremors, and vomiting are all potential symptoms.

Try Natural Cleaners if You Have Pets

The selection of a natural cleaning product can reduce safety concerns and hazards in the home. You’ll also be doing the environment and Mother Nature a huge favor.

Cleaning products formulated to be green are designed with the intent of being non-toxic. They are also non-corrosive which is in sharp contrast with chemical products that are generally highly corrosive and must be handled with gloves. 

Natural cleaners can be a healthier choice for your family including your four-legged or winged members. The inhalation of fumes that prove to be toxic most likely will lead to respiratory issues and even long-term health problems like an asthma condition.

Yes, dogs and cats can have asthma, too. Chemical exposure also may affect you and your pet dermatologically by producing dermatitis, eczema, rashes, or skin allergies.

Natural products usually exclude the use of formaldehyde, dyes, bleach, and sulfates in their formulas. Common ingredients will include natural fragrances, vinegar, plant-based surfactants, and natural oils.

Naturally Safe Pet Products for Dogs, Cats, and Birds

These same rules apply when searching for safe pet products such as grooming products, whether brushes, shampoos, conditioners, cage and wearable accessories, cat litter and chew toys.

The Bottom Line

As a pet parent, natural products are the best choice. If however, you are not able to find a natural household product that satisfies your needs, chemical products must be stored safely in such a way that your pet cannot get a hold of them, especially for chewing purposes.

When these products are used, your pet should not be present and the area should be well-ventilated before you allow your pet to return. 

If you must use chemical household products and you suspect that your pet has been in the area or in contact with the chemicals used, watch for signs of discomfort, and if you see unusual behavior or physical symptoms, go immediately to an animal emergency care facility.

Susan R Elliston

I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

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