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Top Ten Less-Known Pet Toxins

a kitten and a puppy sitting on a wooden floor

Fact checked by a Hello Ralphie expert veterinarian

Less-Known Dog Toxins and Cat Toxins

March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month and the Hello Ralphie team would like to highlight some pet toxins to keep your pets safe! While some pet toxins such as chocolate are well known and others like bleach and household cleaners are obvious, other pet toxins are less well known. 

We are highlighting five dog toxins and five cat toxins that may be less well known to our pet parents.

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Five Less-Known Dog Toxins

a jar of marinara pasta sauce

Pasta Sauce

While the tomato component is delicious and healthy, most pasta sauces also contain garlic and onions that can be toxic to dogs. Foods in the Allium family include garlic, onions, leeks, and chives. When eaten, these can cause your dog a variety of toxicity signs. Mild concerns such as an upset stomach are common, however more serious concerns such as rupturing of red blood cells can occur.

an avocado cut in half


Although en vogue for humans due to their healthy fats and delicious taste, avocados can be toxic to some dogs. They contain a substance called persin that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in some dogs. Additionally, if eaten, the avocado pit can cause a serious obstruction in many dogs.

macadamia nuts are a dog toxin

Macadamia Nuts

Although it is not well understood why, many dogs who eat macadamia nuts can have a toxic reaction. The most common signs of this pet poison are weakness in the legs, overheating, and vomiting.

a worn penny sitting on a white background


For mischievous dogs who like to eat things they should not, the shiny temptation of a penny could have serious toxic consequences. The main element in pennies is zinc which is toxic to dogs. When ingested, zinc poisoning will cause destruction of your dog’s red blood cells which leads to weakness, discolored urine, and yellowing of the eyes / skin, and can be fatal if not treated.

a cluster of sago palms in a yard

Sago Palms

These household plants known for their beautiful leaves and ease of care can be toxic to dogs. While all parts of the plant are toxic, the seeds are most harmful. The dog toxin in sago palms, called cycasin, attacks the liver causing a broad range of symptoms and illnesses in dogs. 

Five Less-Known Cat Toxins

dog flea preventatives are cat toxins

Dog Flea Prevention

Cats are not small dogs! Although flea prevention is very important for cats, it is important to use a product specifically designed for them. Many dog flea prevention products contain an ingredient called permethrin that is toxic to cats. 

pouring antifreeze into a car engine


Commonly found in car radiators, antifreeze can leak out onto garage floors, driveways, and puddles. Unknown to us humans, antifreeze actually has a sweet taste that many cats enjoy. However, antifreeze contains a toxin called ethylene glycol, that can cause fatal kidney disease even in small amounts when ingested by cats.

two pink lilies


Tiger, asiaic, day, and easter lily varieties can be toxic to cats- ingesting just a bite or two of the leaves or pollen can cause rapid kidney failure. While other varieties of lilies such as peace lilies and calla lilies tend to be less toxic, they can still cause illness. Signs of lily poisoning can include vomiting, lethargy, excessive thirst, and changes in urination (too much or not at all). In general, it is best to avoid all lilies in a household with kitties.

a beagle eating a bowl of dry dog food

Dog Food

While not cat toxin per se, cats are special creatures with their own set of nutritional needs. Dog foods do not contain many of the essential nutrients, such as taurine, needed for cats to be healthy. When fed dog food, cats can become different in many essential nutrients, some of which can result in serious health consequences, such as blindness. 

an unopened bottle of aspirin


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) include items such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin and are very toxic to cats. While common for humans to take for mild ailments, these medications should be avoided in cats. Cats lack the enzymes needed to process these medications, meaning even a small dose and be extremely toxic and even fatal.

What to do if my pet ate something toxic?

Think your pet may have been exposed to a toxin? Questions about other pet toxins you have heard of? Our team of Hello Ralphie veterinarians is here to help and offer custom advice to you about your pet’s particular situation and health concern. 

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  1. […] While most dog owners are aware of the dangers posed by chocolate ingestion, many other household items can be toxic to pets. For more information, read through our list of Lesser Known Dog and Cat Toxins. […]

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