Protect Our Pets

When our precious little Maltipoo published “A Dangerous Book for Dogs: Train Your Humans with the Bandit Method” in 2016, he warned his fellow pooch pals to not let the book fall into human hands. He made one important exception, however, for this special bonus chapter. We’re pleased to keep paying it forward during National Animal Poison Prevention Week, but we’ll also keep it on the website indefinitely. Enjoy the read… in the words of our Furrrever Friend, Bandit.



We’re not talking about overspending here; this is about teaching your humans to save your life!  Probably most of us have been guilty of eating the wrong things, but we also must teach our humans not to offer some items to their favorite furry beasts… EVEN WHEN WE BEG MOST ADORABLY.  They think they are giving us a treat, but they are likely giving us a tummy ache, at the very least.  So, go ahead and tear out these pages.  This Extra Treat of vital information should be left somewhere where your humans will see it.

Damage caused by some items, such as onions, is cumulative.  So, a little in last night’s table scraps might not be such a big deal, right?  Wrong.  Because there may be a little more evilness than they realized… in the form of onion powder, or raw scraps while onions were being chopped, etc.

Keeping us safe and healthy is one of the most important ways that our humans show they love us!  We show them love ALL the time.

I’ve seen many lists, but with lots of differences from list to list.  I am one who’d rather be safe than sorry.  So, here is an accumulated listing, gathered from my knowledge gained from my trusted veterinary staff at the Bedford Animal Hospital, and the following websites:

and the Pet Education site from

There are many more sites, so I thought it might be helpful to compare lists.  I learned a lot.  For example, I’ve always had a great deal of confusion over which herbs, spices, and flavorings would be most important to avoid as pets.  I had heard that cinnamon was bad, but it turns out that in small amounts it is just fine, along with other more traditional things like sage and mint.  Nutmeg, on the other hand, is considered very bad… in any amount.  That makes it extra important not to give us a human-type cookie or other sweet that could very well contain some ill-advised flavoring.

Most of us know that table scraps are a BIG no-no though we want them in a BIG yes-yes way.  Our humans are trying to do their best, and they do not realize that they are NOT doing us a favor, nor are they “spoiling” us with such things as the extra fat they cut off the meat they just ate or a bite of buttery biscuit that they passed coyly under the table to our gleefully awaiting mouths.  Healthy pets need healthy diets.  Unhealthy is the only way to describe diets with too much fat, or sugar, or salt… for humans or us critters.

One bite may be no big deal to a human, but to a dog, especially a small dog, or a cat, that one bite is the size of a meal.  It probably should be called “supersized.”

WebMD reported 100,000 cases of pet poisoning in the United States of America just last year.  The ASPCA details a full 25% of emergency calls they received last year alone were because a pet had just gobbled up some human medication, frequently ibuprofen and acetaminophen.  No matter what the medicine may be… human or pet… our humans need to keep them safely out of our reach.

Some items we critters may consume will cause varying symptoms and degrees of risk.  These depend a lot on the quantity consumed, our individual size, and our personal constitution and sensitivity.  Regardless, no one who loves their animals wants us to suffer indigestion, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, weakness, or vomiting, never mind kidney or liver damage, coma, or death.

So, let’s look at a basic list to share with your humans.  This certainly does not contain every single item, but it does give you a strong starting point.

Human and Pet Medications

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Anti-depressants
  • Prescriptions of any sort
  • Pet Medicines for Flea & Tick (Many of these are for external use only and are poisonous if ingested!)

Chemical Poisons

  • Rat or Mouse poison— We don’t have to eat the poison itself; we simply have to take a bite of the mouse that did!
  • Heavy metals– This includes such things as lead paint, linoleum (as in tiles), batteries, and zinc (in pennies).
  • Household cleaners– Alert your humans to clean up any spilled bleach or ammonia right away.  Also, they need to keep such items as drain or pine cleaners, laundry detergent, and glue far away from us and any places we might step on them with our feet.
  • Personal Care items– Some humans think it looks cute, but they should never let us pets get into nail polish or polish remover.
  • Garage or other stored items— All lawn & garden fertilizers, turpentine paint thinner, putty, and pool chemicals need to be far out of reach.  They should also be sure motor oil, antifreeze, battery acid, and kerosene are stored safely.  If humans read labels on insecticides they’ll be certain they are specifically safe for pets.  Remember, we wash our feet with our tongues and will consume all the chemicals we walked on during each outing.  Yuk!


I’d heard about this decades ago with regard to cats and some dangerous house plants such as Philodendron, but the list of items that are bad is quite lengthy and includes some common varieties:

  • Aloe
  • Amaryllis
  • Apple seeds, stems & leaves
  • Azaleas
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Daffodils
  • Daisies
  • English Ivy
  • Fox Glove
  • Hosta
  • Hyacinth
  • Iris
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Marijuana / Hashish
  • Mistletoe
  • Oleander
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Rhododendrons
  • Tobacco
  • Tulips

Human Foods

  • Alcohol— No, it’s not funny to get us drunk.  Our systems are much smaller than theirs and react very badly to alcohol poisoning.
  • Caffeine– Keep critters away from coffee, cocoa, tea, soft drinks, and caffeine pills.
  • Chocolate– The darker the chocolate, the more deadly to us, their beloved pets.
  • Grapes & raisins – cause kidney failure
  • Fruit pits– such as cherry, peach, plum, and apple seeds
  • Citrus peels or seeds – cause irritation and damage the central nervous system
  • Garlic– including garlic powder
  • Mushrooms– some varieties, including those common in backyards
  • Onion– including onion powder
  • Tomatoes– especially for cats
  • Yeast dough – causes wretched stomach pain
  • Nuts – cause vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis
  • Avocado – causes cardiovascular damage

Difficult to digest (causing vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive upsets), though not poisonous:

  • Bones
  • Corn cobs
  • Dairy products
  • Fats (even fat trimmings from meat, cooked or raw)
  • Coconut water (too high in potassium)
  • Large amounts of fish (small amounts only for dogs)
  • Hops – as in beer
  • Raw eggs
  • Salt
  • Sugars and sugary foods

There are several emergency numbers you may want to keep handy as help is available 24/7:

(These numbers/rates are effective as of 2016.) Poison Control Center         888-426-4435  ($65)

Pet Poison                           855-764-7661  ($49)

National Animal Poison Control             800-548-2423   ($30)

Animal Poison                   800-213-6680   ($39)

Kansas State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital 

                                                                     1-785-532-5679  (FREE)

While most of these lines charge fees, in an emergency, these may seem like a pretty small price to pay to keep from poisoning us.  Humans should also find out where the 24-hour veterinary service providers are in their local area.  Get your humans to keep those numbers on the same list.





About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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