October 25, 2023

Avoiding Common Household Hazards for Pets

How can I make my house safe for pets?

Our pets are curious creatures and, sadly, there are many potential dangers in our homes and gardens. Here are some of the most common hazards in different areas of the house:

The Kitchen:

To help keep your pets safe, make sure to properly pet-proof your kitchen.

  • Add a kitchen gate to stop dogs scavenging from surfaces 

  • Add lids to all trash and recycling bins.

  • Close the dishwasher when not in use.

  • Cover any small gaps between appliances and cabinets to keep cats out.

Toxic foods: 

  • Chocolate: Human chocolate, foods containing chocolate and cocoa powder, contains theobromine, a chemical that can be fatal to pets

  • Caffeine: Keep tea bags, coffee and energy drinks out of reach of cats and dogs. 

  • Grapes, Currants, Raisins and Sultanas: Make sure your pets don’t eat any food with these ingredients, e.g. cakes.

  • Onions, Garlic and ChivesThese have chemicals, which can poison dogs and cats if enough is eaten over a number of days.

  • Avocados: These can affect birds as they contain the chemical persin. Throw away the avocado stone as it can obstruct a pet’s intestines.

  • Macadamia Nuts and Peanuts: Even in small amounts, these foods can be toxic to pets.

  • Salt: Salt is extremely poisonous to pets. It’s common in human food and can also be found in dishwasher tablets and salts, bath salts, and play dough 

  • Vitamin D: This vitamin is in supplement tablets, cod liver oil and skin creams. It can be very poisonous as it affects a pet’s heart, liver and kidneys.

  • Alcohol: Alcoholic drinks are toxic to pets. Some household products also contain alcohol, including mouthwashes, perfumes, aftershaves, colognes and glues.

  • Iron: Foods rich in iron can be fatal to pets. Watch out for human supplements and iron tablets. Iron is also usually in lawn moss killers and lawn ‘feed and weed’.

  • Xylitol: Is extremely harmful to dogs. It’s in sugar-free chewing gum, sweets – and increasingly used in medications and nicotine replacement chewing gums.

Are roast dinners dangerous for dogs?

Certain traditional components of roast dinners are toxic to dogs such as onions, garlic, leeks and shallots. Bones are also to be avoided as once they’ve been cooked, they become brittle and splinter causing all sorts of problems to pets.

If you want to distract your dog whilst you are eating, a Kong toy filled with suitable doggy treats, such as peanut butter, works wonders! There’s a wide variety of Kong products available at UK Pets including KONG Wobbler, Kong Snacks (Liver) and Kong Easy Treats.

Electrical safety:

Electricity in your home can turn into a hazard, especially if your pets are left home alone. Follow these tips to make your home safer:

  • Household appliances: Don’t leave appliances like washing machines or dishwashers running while you’re out. They could catch fire and put your pets in danger.

  • Portable heaters: Keep pets away from portable heaters and never leave pets unattended around them. Your pet could knock them over and hurt themselves or cause a fire.

  • Wires and cables: Trailing cables can be really tempting for pets to chew on. Keep any wires and cables out of harm’s way.

What Kinds of Household Products Can Be Poisonous to Your Pets?

  • Bleach or bleach-based cleaners.

  • Carpet or rug cleaner/shampoo/deodorizer.

  • Essential oils.

  • Plant fertiliser.

  • Glue, other adhesives.

  • Laundry or dishwasher detergent.

  • Paints & solvents

  • Antifreeze de-Icer

  • Rat and mouse poisons

  • Slug Pellets

  • Human Painkillers: they can be poisonous to dogs and cats. Never give human medication to your pet.

  • Batteries: batteries contain strong acids and lots of metal. If your pet eats a battery it could cause burns to their mouth, throat and stomach, as well as causing difficulties breathing and swallowing.

  • Ethanol: Ethanol is a type of alcohol found in many household products, such as mouthwashes, perfumes, aftershaves, colognes and glues. 

  • E-Cigarettes: The liquid inside an e-cigarette is highly toxic to pets

  • Toys with small parts might be great for older children, but dog toys are specific so that pieces aren’t swallowed or lodged in the throat. Balls and other playtime pieces that aren’t made for dogs - and your dog’s size—can be deadly. Always select dog and cat toys carefully


Several varieties of plants and cut flowers can be poisonous to dogs and cats, so care must be taken inside the home if there are cut flowers or houseplants about. If you have any concerns about any plants your dog could come across you can use the PocketVet toxic plant identifier to quickly identify any potentially dangerous plants you find. You can also use PocketVet to speak to a vet quickly if you think they may be showing symptoms of toxicity. However, if your dog has breathing difficulties or you think it is an emergency then please take them straight to your local vet.


Medically reviewed by:

Miss Joy Sarah Helen Howell

DipAVN(Surgical) RVN EA SQP