Is it Toxic?

Dr. Andrea Sparzo lists some of the less obvious supplements and medications lurking in your home that can cause serious illness to your pets when over- dosed.

1. IRON SUPPLEMENTS- Overdoses of iron tablets or supplements containing iron can cause serious GI upset and liver failure. Hand warmers (the kind that are broken to cause a chemical reaction that warms the packet) also contain toxic doses of iron.

2. VITAMIN D - In addition to pills, vitamin D can be found in many prescription topical lotions. Overdoses can be serious and require prolonged and expensive hospitalization.

3. HORMONES/STEROIDS- Some topical estrogen or steroid ointments can be licked off owners hands, and with chronic exposure cause a slew of side effects in the pet, including bone marrow suppression, mammary development, liver value increases weight gain, excessive water intake, and hair coat changes.

4. "ENERGY" OR WEIGHT LOSS SUPPLEMENTS- These may contain caffeine or other stimulants that pets cannot tolerate, and can cause restlessness, high blood pressure and occasionally stroke or seizure or death in high enough doses.

5. SUGAR SUBSTITUTES- Xylitol and other sugar substitutes can actually cause dangerously low blood sugar in pets by causing a release of insulin from the body. In addition, xylitol can be very toxic to the liver.

6. TYLENOL- a single pill can cause death in a cat. Overdoses to dogs are also life threatening and can cause liver damage as well as damage to red blood cells, inhibiting their ability to carry oxygen.

7. ESSENTIAL OILS- Many essential oils can be very toxic to cats, who can lick them and develop chemical pneumonia from inhalation, as well as oral and esophageal ulceration.

8. GARLIC- Sold in some health food stores in capsule form as a powdered supplement, large amounts of garlic (as well as onion) can cause red blood cell and kidney damage in pets.

Remember- do not give your pet any medications or human supplements that have not been recommended for them by a veterinarian! When in doubt, you always call a veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline for a small fee at 1(800).213.6680 or visit their website at for additional information and assistance.