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Watch Out for Potentially Dangerous Summer Poisons
Help keep your pet safe by keeping these poisons, some of which you may not think of, out of reach and touch. Fertilizers, pesticides and ...
June 4, 2014

Help keep your pet safe by keeping these poisons, some of which you may not think of, out of reach and touch.

Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides

Anything that you spray or spread on your property becomes free rein for your pet to come in contact with. These products are loaded with chemicals that can be toxic to pets. Most fertilizers will cause severe stomach upset if ingested. In addition to fertilizers, be extra careful about pets coming into contact with insecticides that you have sprayed in the yard or around the house. Be sure to read all product labels and recognize how long you must wait before allowing pets to come in contact with treated areas. Consult your veterinarian about the best products to use based on your pet’s lifestyle.

Topical Insecticides

Never use human or household bug sprays on your pets. Also, pets are subject to overdose, so if you are trying to get rid of ticks and fleas on your pet, do not use multiple products. Lastly, it’s important that you use only products specifically formulated for your pet. Some pet owners might consider using a smaller amount of a dog product on a cat, but cats can get very sick from using a product not specified for them. It’s worth asking your veterinarian for advice about the best products to use for your pet.

Barbecue lighter fluid and kerosene

These liquids can cause damage to the lungs if inhaled (dogs or cats may sniff an open container), as well as irritation to eyes and skin.

Mouse/Rodent Poison

Refrain from using mouse and rodent poisons in places that your pets can access. Not only can they ingest the poison itself, but they may eat a mouse that has consumed the poison. These poisons cause bleeding, paralysis and other often fatal effects. There are non-toxic traps available which should be used when possible.

It’s worth mentioning that while you may think ant traps fall into this same category, ingesting the chemical in an ant trap is rarely a serious situation. These products are almost always of extremely low toxicity and would very rarely have any effect on your pets.

Cocoa Mulch

Yes. Believe it or not, there is a mulch product that is made from the hulls of the cocoa bean, which like chocolate can be toxic and even fatal to dogs. It can be found at most garden centers and it’s known for a fine texture and sweet smell, which is likely to attract pets. This mulch product contains a higher content of theobromine and caffeine than chocolate itself, and even a small amount can cause gastrointestinal problems, neuromuscular problems, and death.

Chlorine/Pool Chemicals

If you own a pool make sure you always store any of the pool chemicals in a secure area away from your pets, and never leave these in the pool area even for a short time. Pool chemicals, if ingested can result in severe ulcers in the mouth, esophagus and stomach.

Coolants, antifreeze, radiator fluid

Antifreeze, which contains ethylene glycol, is extremely dangerous to dogs and cats and is one of the most common forms of poisoning in small animals. You may think by storing these products high on a shelf in your garage that your pets are safe. Be aware that antifreeze poisoning can often happen when antifreeze drips from a car’s radiator. Pets are attracted to the sweet taste, where it is licked off the ground and ingested. If you suspect your pet has ingested even a small amount, contact your veterinarian immediately. You may want to consider purchasing a pet friendly brand that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.

While the following are not summer time poisons, take note of other sources of the dangerous chemical ethylene glycol including: windshield deicing agents, motor oils, hydraulic brake fluid, developing solutions for photography, paints, solvents, etc.


Fireworks can be dangerous to pets in several ways. Humans may find these exciting and fun on the 4th of July, however, the loud noise can result in severe stress, fear and anxiety in your pets. Also when unused fireworks are left around the yard, it should come as no surprise that pets will eat just about anything. If ingested, pets can develop gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, a painful abdomen and bloody diarrhea.

Suntan lotion

Be careful not to leave a tube of sunscreen out and open for your pet to find. If your pet gets a hold of it, he or she can suffer irritation of the mouth and eyes as well as stomach upset. Keep in mind that this means but there are also dangers to be had if they lick sunscreen from your skin.

The best practice here is prevention and to be diligent about the dangers that these products present. If you find that your pet does consume any of these products, contact your veterinarian immediately. And, remember to take the product container with you to the vet. In the event you are unable to reach your primary veterinarian, the Animal Poison Control Center of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) hotline at 1-888-426-4435 or (1-888-4ANI-HELP) (the call is toll-free, but a consultation fee may be applied). Another resource for you is the Pet Poison Helpline open 24/7 at 1-800-213-6680 (a $39 per incident fee applies).

Reference Sources:

New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association

Veterinary Pet Insurance Company