9 surprising things in your house that can make your dog or cat sick

Pet parents take note: your home is a death trap.

By Amber Manto

1. Lillies

Sure they look pretty arranged on your coffee table but lillies are basically cat kryptonite. All parts of the flower are considered poisonous - including the flowers, leaves, pollen and stems – and while it’s not known exactly why this is the case, if ingested it can result in kidney failure. Certain types of lillies are also poisonous for dogs and, while not fatal, can make your pup very sick with vomiting and seizures so always check the variety.
"Lily toxicity is simply heartbreaking as many cats die, even with aggressive treatment. The leaves and flowers from plants of the lily (Liliaceae) family are highly toxic to cats. All parts of the plant are considered toxic and only a small amount of the plant is required to cause toxicity,” explains veterinarian Dr Katrina Warren.
Other poisonous plants for pets include azaleas, daffodils and tulips.

2. Bread dough

Those Sunday morning bread baking sessions are inspiring but just don’t be tempted to feed your dog any scraps of dough (or leave it on the bench where they can tuck into it) as the yeast can expand once ingested and result in a twisted stomach. The yeast can also ferment and produce alcohol which can also result in poisoning. So no matter how sad those begging eyes are, just don’t give in. Cats are also at risk although less likely since they're such discerning eaters.

3. G-strings and socks

That's right, your underwear drawer is a goldmine of dangerous possibility for your curious pup or cat, with g-strings and socks one some of the most common items extracted from dog's stomaches, according to PIA's Nadia. It can be lethal though, as these can get stuck and wreak havoc on their intestines.

4. Grapes, sultanas and raisins

These are so easy for a pup to quickly eat if you drop one so be extra careful as these harmless human snacks can cause kidney failure in dogs. “As a minimum, if your dog ingests anywhere between 10-30g of grapes or raisins per kilogram body weight, there is a risk of toxicity,” veterinarian Dr Elise Vogt tells Dogs Life.

5. Human medication

Seems like a no-brainer and it really should be – keep the medicine cabinet locked because what can help us humans, can be lethal for animals. Standard over-the-counter meds such as ibuprofen and paracetamol have the potential to throw your dog or cat's intestinal system into a spin, resulting in kidney failure and potentially death. In fact, this type of poisoning is unfortunately so common it's one of the top five toxic claims made to Pet Insurance Australia.

6. Chocolate

A treat (necessity of life) for us but toxic for dogs. That's because the cocoa in chocolate contains the chemical theobromine (a relative of caffeine) is something dogs can't metabolise and this acts as a heart stimulant. The darker, more bitter the chocolate is, the more dangerous it is for your pup.
“Chocolate poisoning is the most common form of claimed toxicity in Australia,” says Pet Insurance Australia (PIA) spokesperson Nadia Crighton. “Baking or compound chocolate seems to be the worst as it contains more caffeine and theobromine, however even milk chocolate can cause severe toxicity.”
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea and rapid breathing.

7. Dental floss

Cats love string and dental floss is just a very exciting version of that. While it's a fantastic choice for your oral health, floss is not considered to be a safe toy for cats because if ingested, which is easy to do if you've ever watched a cat attack a piece of string, can cause all sorts of mischief with their intestines.

8. Electrical and curtain cords

Puppies and cats see these as toys so find them delightfully fun to play with, but they can lead to an unhappy ending pretty quickly.
"Electrical cords tempt puppies and cats to chew. This can cause burns in the mouth, electrical shock, or death by electrocution," explains Dr Katrina. "It’s better to keep the cords out of reach by installing baby gates to make rooms off-limits [for puppies], and by moving electrical items and their cords elsewhere."
Same goes for curtain cords.
"Pets may be tempted to grab curtains or play tug with the cords on the window blinds. Some pets have been strangled in these cords so tie them up out of reach," she adds.

9. Milk

We have cartoons and storybooks to thank for the common misconception that milk is great option for cats (don't let their love for it fool you) when in reality it's not. While not life-threatening, many cats and dogs are lactose-intolerant so have trouble ingesting milk which leads to diarrhea, gas and vomiting. If you really want to give your pet milk then opt for the pet-friendly version which you can pick up at the pet store.