Small Animal Toxins

The following is a list of over-the-counter medications, household products, foods, and other items that may be potentially toxic to a pet. This is not an all-inclusive list. Many human prescription drugs have a significant potential to be toxic to small animals. Further, any substance ingested in a sufficient quantity can likewise be toxic. If you are uncertain, call your veterinarian or an animal poison control center to seek help.

Animal Poison Control Centers

Poison Control Centers in the United States that specialize in providing information specific to veterinary patients will be able to provide more specific assistance. The following are available 24 hours a day and charge a nominal fee for their services: 

Pet Poison Hotline

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Over The Counter Medications


  • Human use: analgesic and antipyretic
  • Contraindicated in cats at any dosage and not recommended in ferrets. Can be toxic in dogs.

Alpha Lipoic Acid

  • Human use: dietary supplement to help manage diabetes
  • Dose dependent toxicity in dogs and cats. Cats are very sensitive.

Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid)

  • Human use: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic
  • Used therapeutically in dogs and cats, but toxicity is dose dependent.


  • Human use: stimulant found in some analgesics, coffee, energy drinks, chocolate, and some other foods
  • Toxic to dogs and cats.


  • Human use: cough suppressant
  • Dose dependent toxicity in animals.


  • Human use: dietary supplement
  • Toxic to dogs and cats.


  • Human use: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug
  • Not recommended for veterinary use. Toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets.

Imidazolines (oxymetazoline, tetrahydrozoline, naphazoline, tolazoline)

  • Human use: decongestants use in eye and nasal preparations
  • Not recommended for veterinary use. Toxic to all pets.


  • Human use: Mineral supplement, found in multi-vitamin supplements, and has many other commercial uses
  • Toxic to dogs


  • Human use: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug
  • Not recommended for use in small animals. Highly toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets.


  • Human use: topical insecticide; over-the-counter lice treatment product
  • Toxic to cats


  • Human use: urinary analgesic
  • May be toxic to dogs and cats


  • Human use: orally administered nasal decongestant
  • May be toxic to dogs and cats at high doses


  • Human use: orally administered nasal decongestant
  • Can be highly toxic to dogs and cats

Vitamin D

  • Human use: oral vitamin, component of multi-vitamin products, and found in rodenticides.
  • Can be toxic to small animals

Other Medicinal Products

Benzyl Alcohol

  • Use: preservative
  • May be very toxic to cats

Peppermint Oil (including menthol and peppermint oil)

  • Use: scent, aromatic
  • Toxic to cats

Propylene Glycol

  • Use: found in "safer" antifreeze, hair dyes, disinfectants and paints or varnish
  • Toxic to dogs and cats

Tea Tree Oil (melaleuca oil)

  • Use: topical antibacterial
  • Highly toxic both orally and topically to dogs and especially to cats


  • Use: substitute sweetener found in sugar-free foods, gum, breath mints, dental hygiene products, baked goods, nasal sprays and more
  • Can be toxic to dogs


Allium (garlic, onion, leeks, chives)

  • May be toxic to dogs and cats


  • Toxic to dogs and cats

Grapes, raisins, currants (Vitis species)

  • Toxic to dogs

Macadamia Nuts

  • Toxic to dogs

Household Products


  • Examples: drain cleaner, metal cleaner, hair wave neutralizers, rust removers, and vinegar
  • Can cause severe tissue damage related to concentration
  • Do NOT induce emesis (vomiting)


  • Examples: drain cleaners, dry cell batteries, hair  relaxers, lye, oven cleaner, non-chlorine bleach
  • Can cause severe tissue damage related to concentration
  • Do NOT induce emesis (vomiting)

Anticoagulant Rodenticides

  • Examples: Tomcat, D-Con, others
  • Toxic to all species

Calcium Chloride

  • Examples: Ice melt products
  • May cause skin and gastrointestinal tract irritation and erosion


  • examples: found in many insect repellants
  • Absorbed through the skin in dogs


  • Examples: hand sanitizers and alcoholic beverages
  • Can be toxic to animals

Ethylene Glycol

  • Examples: found in automotive antifreeze
  • Toxic to dogs and cats


  • Examples: commonly found in snail and slug baits
  • Toxic to dogs and cats


  • Examples: organic solvent found in windshield washer fluid, paint thinner, and household cleaning products
  • Toxic to dogs and cats


  • Examples: naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene (PDB)
  • Roxic to all species via ingestion, inhalation, or dermal contact

Expanding Polyurethane Glues Containing Diisocyanate

  • Examples: Gorilla Glue and Elmer's ProBond
  • Not biochemically toxic, but glue expands and can cause esophageal and gastric obstructions

Miscellaneous Items

Glow Toys and Jewelry

  • Further identification: liquid filled safety sticks, glow sticks, and other similar toys
  • Contain dibutylphthalate which is mildly toxic to dogs and cats


  • Further identification: lily plant species illium and Hemerocallis, including potted plants, cut flowers, leaves, petals, pollen and vase water
  • Highly toxic to cats

Liquid Potpourri

  • Further identification: simmer pot products which may contain cationic detergents and/or essential oils
  • May absorb across the skin, as well as orally, in dogs and cats
  • Do NOT induce emesis (vomiting) 

Lithium Ion Disc Batteries

  • Further identification: button batteries for watches, toys, hearing aids, and other applications
  • Ingestion is toxic to cats and dogs due to electrical current flow causing tissue damage

United States Pennies

  • Further identification: one-cent pieces minted after 1982
  • High zinc content is toxic to dogs and cats