Household Dangers | Winnipeg Humane Society
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Household Dangers

Seemingly harmless things in our homes can pose a real threat to animals. Here is a list of common household items that can pose a danger to your pets:

Moth balls

Either naphthalene or para dichlorobenzene, can be used in moth balls, and both substances are toxic. This chemical tends to change its state from a solid to a gas form very quickly. If inhaled it can be fatal, and if ingested moth balls are extremely harmful. Do not induce vomiting if ingested – rather drink plenty of water and consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Symptoms can include: weakness, lethargy, increased heart and respiration rate, pale mucous membranes, jaundice, vomiting and abdominal pain. Urine may also contain traces of blood.


Most brands of commercial antifreeze consist of 95% ethylene glycol, an extremely toxic chemical. Even a few licks of this sweet-tasting liquid can be fatal to a cat or dog. Another source of antifreeze is the decorative “snow globes” glassware. The liquid in the these displays contain 2% antifreeze and are very toxic. Antifreeze poisoning occurs in two stages: 1) ethylene glycol in the antifreeze causes a drunken appearance in the animal within about 30 minutes which may continue for several hours. After passing through stage 1, the animal appears to recover. But within 12 to 36 hours of ingestion, these metabolites have reached such a level that the animal’s kidneys stop functioning, and the animal slips into a coma.

Also note that some popular household cleaners also contain anti-freeze. Check the contents of the cleaning materials you use to make sure they are safe for your pets.

Thread, string, floss

These seemingly innocuous items can be deadly, especially for cats who seem to be drawn to string, any form of thread. Cats can swallow thread in large amounts and it can become tied around their tongues, intestines, and other inner organs leading to major injury and/or death. Keep anything resembling string, floss, wire, thread, rubbebands and twine locked away. If your cat begins vomiting more than usual, has diarrhea, constipation, lethargy or erratic behaviour.

Certain foods

Grapes, onions, chocolate, and chicken bones can all be dangerous for animals either due to toxins or choking dangers. When cooking make sure to pick up fallen foods and wipe off counters that animals can reach. Also, be sure your garbage is tightly sealed and out of paws reach.

Non-stick coatings (when overheated)

This technically falls under poisoning but warrants a special mention because use of these products is very common. When overheated, the non stick coating emits fumes that are very toxic to birds when inhaled. This coating is found on non stick cookware but may also be found on waffle irons, bread machines, irons, ironing board covers, curling irons, space heaters, blow dryers and more.

If possible, switch to a safer type of cookware, and use other products with non-stick coating as far away from birds as possible. Long-term use of non-stick products in close proximity to birds may potentially pose a danger as well.


While there are many benefits to having plants in your home, choosing the right plant can mean the difference between life and death for your animals. More than 700 plants have been identified as producing physiologically active or toxic substances in sufficient amounts to cause harmful effects in animals. Poisonous plants produce a variety of toxic substances and cause reactions ranging from mild nausea to death. Certain animal species may have a peculiar vulnerability to a potentially poisonous plant.

Below is a list of some of the common plants which may produce a toxic reaction in animals. This list is intended only as a guide to plants which are generally identified as having the capability of producing a toxic reaction.

List of Poisonous Plants