5 Ways You Are Unknowingly Harming Your Pets

As pet-parents, we love our pets to the stars and back and would do anything to keep them safe and happy. But what if we were told that a few of our own actions are actually endangering their health and safety? Don’t believe it? You would, once you finish reading this.

1. Smoking Near Them

Our pets are affected by secondhand cigarette smoke just like us, and constant exposure to cigarette smoke can lead to illnesses like cancer and lung disease in them. Secondhand smoke also increases the production of mucus in dogs, thereby hampering their respiratory function. Cigarette smoke can increase their risk of developing some forms of nasal cancers and result in carbon deposits in their lungs just like in humans and can cause lung cancer over a period of time. It even impacts their DNA, which can lead to lung disease, emphysema, and even cancer.

Exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke also increases their chances of developing allergic skin disease. It also hastens the damage to their heart blood vessels which tends to happen as they age. And the resulting damage aggravates any underlying medical condition.


2. Exposing Them To Xylitol

We all know the perils of exposing our pets to toxic foods like chocolate, onions, and grapes. However, there’s another harmless-looking poison that lurks in many things that we use. The artificial sweetener xylitol, which is used in candy, gum, yogurt, and even peanut butter, is extremely toxic to our pets. This sugar substitute is present in a lot of baked goods as well.


In dogs, ingesting xylitol results in an excessive release of the hormone insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body’s cells absorb glucose from the blood and use it for their functioning. Due to the high levels of insulin released, the cells take too much sugar from the blood and the animal’s blood sugar levels drop dangerously low, resulting in a life-threatening condition called hypoglycemia. Xylitol also damages the liver cells in dogs and can lead to liver failure.

Dogs can get exposed to xylitol accidentally when they chew on a pack of gum or candy lying around or if they steal food containing xylitol from the kitchen countertop. Sometimes, people give food (like peanut butter) containing xylitol to their pets without knowing that it is extremely harmful for the animals. If you suspect that your pet has ingested foods containing xylitol, you will need to rush him to your vet immediately.


3. Giving Them Human Medication

We know that our pets’ noses will get into everything. Open purses, backpacks, bedside tables. And these are places where we sometimes keep our medicines. If they ingest any of these medicines, it can even be fatal for them. And sometimes we may think it’s okay to treat their minor ailments with human medicines from our medicine cabinet. But our metabolism is very different from theirs, and medicines that are safe for us to take can be extremely toxic for them.


Paracetamol, for instance, is an over-the-counter drug commonly found in almost all homes. Although it is safe for even kids to take, in animals it can cause serious damage. All medicines, meant for humans or animals should be kept well away from the reach of pets. Even natural products and herbal supplements need to be stored out of their reach. That is because the chemicals in these medicines and supplements get metabolized very differently in animals than they are in humans and may lead to severe or sometimes even life-threatening consequences.

4. Exposing Them To Lotions And Creams


Pets love the smells of the lotions and ointments that we use on our skin. It might seem like an innocuous thing when they try and lick us after we use these products on our skin. But many of these lotions and ointments can poison our pets. These include hydrocortisone-based creams, calamine lotion, antifungal ointments, and even muscle rubs.

These products, when ingested by your pet can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea and can even damage their gastrointestinal tract. Remember to keep all such items safely stored, away from prying noses and don’t let them lick you, if you’ve just used these on your skin.


5. Using Toxic Cleaning Products

Traditional cleaning products use chemicals like bleach, ammonia, chlorine, formaldehyde, phenol, and isopropyl alcohol, all of which can be extremely harmful for pets. And experts say that most of the time, it isn’t even easy to determine how far a pet has been harmed by a chemical. Signs of poisoning vary depending on the product and the extent of exposure your pet has had to it.

A direct contact could cause something as minor as lethargy or a rash, while ingesting a considerable amount could cause seizures, coma, and even death.