Is spring cleaning safe for pets? These household hazards can harm your furry friend

BOSTON — Monday marked the official start of spring and many people have already gotten a jumpstart on cleaning, gardening, and other activities that may inadvertently expose pets to toxins.

It also happens to be National Animal Poison Prevention Week, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston is raising awareness to common household items that can be toxic, or even fatal, for our furry friends.

Cleaning Products

The ingredients to avoid in household cleaners are phenols, according to the ARL. If the label says “disinfectant,” “antibacterial,” or “sanitizer,” chances are it contains phenolic compounds, which can be toxic to dogs and cats.

The ARL urged pet owners to closely read product labels to find pet-friendly products, dilute solutions, or keep animals out of rooms until surfaces are dry to the touch.

“Make sure there is ample air flow, to avoid possible respiratory issues for pets that could arise due to the strong fumes of some cleaning products,” the ARL added.


It’ll soon be time to get out into the yard as the weather warms, and for many this means gardening projects, including flowers.

“It is important to keep in mind that there are a number of flowers that can be toxic to pets, especially cats,” the ARL said.

Lilies of any variety, daffodils, tulips, chrysanthemums, and hyacinths should be avoided.

There are also a number of garden pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals that are pet-friendly and should be utilized if your pets will be frolicking in the yard when the weather turns warmer.

Food Concerns

The ARL also reminded dog and cat owners that many of the foods we eat are toxic to our pets.

When it comes to food, it’s important to keep the following foods away from our pets;

  • Citrus. If ingested in significant amounts, citrus can cause stomach upset or even nervous system depression
  • Grapes and raisins. Although it’s unknown what the toxic substance is, the fruit can cause kidney failure in pets
  • Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts contain high amounts of fat and can cause pancreatitis in pets
  • Onions and garlic. These can cause gastrointestinal issues, or even red blood cell damage
  • Salt and Salty Snacks. These foods produce excessive thirst and can lead to tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, or even death

Along with chocolate, many foods contain the sweetener xylitol and if ingested, could lead to liver failure.

Poison Control

Pet poison control hotlines are available and are ready to help. This is a service that is offered by a number of microchip companies, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also has a poison control hotline, which can be reached at 888-426-4435.

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