So you got a new pet, now what? Part 1

By Cassie Panning, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist at Pet Poison Helpline®

Cat Grey KittenCongratulations! You just brought home your new pet and are now concerned that there may be some hazards in your house that can be toxic to your new family member. Whether this is your first pet or if you’ve had animals your whole life, you may not know that there are multiple items that can cause your pet harm if you are not careful.  In the first part of this multi part blog we will discuss some of the more common toxins that you may find in and around your home.

Pest Control:  There are a variety of products designed to keep our homes free of pests.  Some of these products have a wide margin of safety in our pets and cause mild signs of stomach upset, while others can cause significant signs of toxicity even with a small ingestion.  Remember that any product that is designed to kill something, whether it is as small as an ant or as large as a gopher, can pose a toxicity risk to your pet when ingested.  Each product has a different active ingredient and each ingredient causes a different level of concern so when determining the level of toxicity it is important to have the package available.  The best way to identify the specific active ingredient in the product is to locate the EPA Registration number on the package.   Below is more specific information regarding some of the more common pest control products and remember it is always best to keep these products out of areas where your pets can go.

Rodenticides (Rat and Mouse poisons)- There are a variety of different active ingredients in these products and all of them pose a toxicity risk of varying degrees.  It is important to keep these products out of areas where your pets can get to; keeping in mind that your new pet will like to explore and pets often can squeeze into small areas.  It is also important to remember to keep the original packaging as this is the best way to confirm the active ingredient. Unfortunately relying on the shape and color of the product will not confirm the active in the product.  If the active ingredient can not be confirmed it will often be recommended to have your pet evaluated at a veterinary clinic.  When bringing a new pet home, it is best to do a sweep of the area to ensure that all products are picked up or placed in appropriate containers in areas where your pets do not go.

Ant and Roach Baits- While many of these products contain insecticides in low concentrations that are often fairly safe for our pets, these products can still pose a concern for our pets.  The active ingredient in many of these products is mixed with a food attractant that will smell sweet or often times like peanut butter to our pets which will not only attract the ants and roaches but also our pets.  Often times with an ingestion we can see signs of mild stomach upset such as vomiting or diarrhea from an ingestion.  The bigger concern with many of these products is an ingestion of the plastic housing which can cause irritation to the stomach or risk for a foreign body obstruction if a large enough piece is ingested.

Human Foods- With a new pet in the house it can be tempting to share some of our goodies with your furry companion.  While some human foods in moderation can be OK for our pets, we need to remember that foods such as grapes, raisins, currants, some nuts, chocolate, onions and garlic as well as sugar free foods can all pose a toxicity risk.  New pets like to be mischievous and may get into the garbage, purses and even pantries and ingest foods that can pose a toxicity risk for them as well.  For a more complete list of foods that are toxic to animals check out our toxin list at

Medication Bottles- Now that you have a new curious pet in the house, it is best to keep all medications, even those for your pets, in a closed cabinet.   Pets, especially young ones, like to play with new toys and may play with pill bottles and end up accidentally ingesting what is inside them.   While some human medications have a wide margin of safety for our pets, others can cause toxicity and life threatening symptoms with as little as one tablet or capsule.  Remember that it is important for your pet’s safety that you not give them any human medications without specific directions from your pet’s veterinarian. For a listing of medications that can be toxic to your pets, check out our toxin list at

In addition to potential toxins that can be hiding in your house, there are also many non-toxic hazards that can also pose a risk to our new family members. Watch for Part 2 of this blog for more information on non toxic hazards that can be found in your home!