To our pets, the world can be a giant playground filled with exciting places to explore, unusual things to smell, and surprising things to taste. While it’s good for them to have an environment that satisfies their sense of adventure and mischief, however, an animal’s sense of curiosity can sometimes get them into trouble when they are attracted to poisons and household toxins that can cause them illness or pain.

Pets do not know that something that smells or tastes nice may be dangerous, so it’s up to their pet parents to ensure that their animals are safe from harmful substances.

The third week in March is National Pet Poison Prevention Week, an excellent time to take an inventory of the things to keep away from your dogs and cats. From plants to foods and human medicines, there are many things that may seem perfectly safe to you but can cause severe problems for your four-legged loved ones.

Poison-proofing your home is a simple way to significantly reduce the chances your dog or cat will come into contact with toxic substances. For starters, keep medicines and cleaners locked up and out of reach.

Here are some other everyday household items that pet parents should keep away from their animals:


  • Chocolate (in high amounts), grapes, and several other human foods
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners – Xylitol found in most candies and in some peanut butter, is highly toxic and can be fatal


Cleaning Products

  • Household cleaners and chemicals
  • Pesticides or herbicides
  • Fertilizer
  • Antifreeze
  • Fabric softener
  • Snail bait
  • Mothballs

Other Household Products

  • Tobacco or vape liquid
  • Human vitamins/medications
  • Batteries
  • Glow sticks

Don’t forget that pets can collect toxins on their paws and then ingest the substances by licking them. Make sure to wipe your pet’s feet after a walk.

It’s also important to know the signs when, despite your best efforts, pets ingest something that can cause serious health problems. If that happens, don’t panic. Our experienced emergency veterinarians at The COVE are here to help!

Symptoms of Poisoning in Cats and Dogs

  • Abnormal breathing patterns or heartbeat
  • Diarrhea or bloody stool
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive urination
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nosebleeds
  • Seizures
  • Unusual behavior
  • Vomiting

Be prepared for an emergency by having the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number (888-246-4435) accessible, and even add it as a contact in your mobile phone (a fee per call may apply). You can also download the ASPCA Poison Control App that has an updated list of toxic plants, foods, and products.

The board-certified toxicologists at Poison Control are essential resources and often work closely with our emergency veterinarians in many pet-poisoning cases.

We all know how clever pets can be. If yours manages to get past your defenses and comes in contact with something poisonous, seek medical care immediately. Here at The COVE, our emergency veterinarians are experienced and trained for pet poisoning cases. You can trust in the care of our emergency department, led by Jacqueline Nobles, DVM, DACVECC, a board-certified specialist in emergency and critical care. 

If your pet has ingested something toxic, we may recommend that you call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center first to start building a case. This will include providing essential details, including what your pet ate, how much, when, symptoms, etc., and then our team will work collaboratively with the toxicologists to develop the most accurate treatment plan.

We hope you find these tips helpful for your pet family. Remember, vigilance will go a long way to ensure your pet will be safe and healthy for years to come.

THE COVE is Open 24/7

THE COVE is open 24/7 all year long, and we’re here for you to answer any questions or concerns. The COVE is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are located at 6550 Hampton Roads Pkwy, #113, Suffolk, VA. We welcome your call any time, day or night, at 757-935-9111.

About Us

The COVE’s veterinarians and staff wholeheartedly embrace the core values of community, collaboration, commitment, compassion, and integrity. This focus ensures that pets, the people who love them, and their primary care veterinarians have as positive and affirming a healthcare experience as possible, regardless of the circumstances that bring us all together.