5 Things in Your Home That Are Surprisingly Dangerous for Your Dog


Most dog owners know they should keep chocolate, raisins, grapes, and other well-publicized food items out of their dog's reach. But dogs consume plenty of items that no one expects them to - that's why we don't take the time to make sure we put them away properly.

Here are 5 things that you may have in your house right now, and that your dog may eat (because trust me, they have) with very negative consequences.

Silica gel packets

Those little silica gel packets are designed to absorb moisture, which keeps things like electronics functional from the factory to the warehouse to the store to you. You probably chuckled to yourself the last time you examined one of them and read the admonishment "Do not ingest!" After all, who would want to eat one of those, right?

Like a lot of strange things that dogs ingest, you'd be surprised at how many of them eat those packets. And while the silica beads themselves aren't toxic, because they're very good at performing their water absorption duties, once inside your dog's stomach they'll start to expand. One or two might not be a problem, but three or more, especially in a small dog, represent a potential obstruction in the stomach or small intestines.

If you see your dog eat some of these packets, call your veterinarian for advice. Within a reasonable time frame, such as an hour or less post-ingestion, it's potentially a good idea to induce vomiting to prevent the expanded packets from becoming an obstruction that requires surgery to remove.

Hand warmers

Remember those hand warmer packets that saved your extremities on your last ski vacation? You crush or bend the packet, and magically it begins to give off heat? Next time, consider leaving the unused ones behind for the next guest at the ski lodge, because when dogs ingest them, they can give themselves a case of iron toxicosis.

In large quantities iron is highly toxic to dogs. With most ingestions we see a mild amount of vomiting and diarrhea, but if sufficient quantities are ingested, it's possible to see severe liver damage. Some dogs need intravenous therapy with special drugs that "chelate", or bind the free iron, if blood iron levels are high enough.


Paintballs, like the kind shot through air rifles during the "capture the flag" game, are for some reason interesting potential food to some dogs. They vary in composition, and the exact mechanism of toxicity is poorly understood, as is the toxic dose. In one write-up, a 90-pound Labrador was sick after eating about 15 paintballs.

Paintball ingestion causes severe changes in the body's electrolytes, especially sodium. Vomiting and diarrhea can occur, however central nervous system signs, such as staggering, blindness, and muscle tremors.


If you're the type of parent who makes all of the others look bad by doing things like making homemade Play-doh, take heed. The standard recipe for homemade Play-doh uses a large amount of table salt, and if your dog eats it, he could become critically ill due to hypernatremia of the blood, or dangerously high sodium levels. This can cause swelling of the brain, seizures, coma, and death.

It's probably not hard to imagine your child leaving a glob of Play-Doh in a place that's accessible by your dog, so keep a watchful eye. Also, some dogs have been seriously poisoned by eating homemade Christmas tree ornaments (made with homemade Play-doh) directly off the tree, so either keep them up really high or don't use them.

Store-bought Play-Doh is non-toxic to dogs.

Pennies (not from heaven)

Dogs have been known to chew on and ingest many unusual items. Because they are basically scavengers, the most food-obsessed of them adapt a "taste first, ask questions later" policy. Luckily, most of the stuff they eat is harmless and passes right on through, if it's small enough or can be digested.

Dogs seem to vacuum up pennies off the floor with surprising regularity. Pennies minted after 1982 have a high enough content of zinc (97.5%, to be exact), as do things like nails, screws, zippers, and pieces from board games (hello, Monopoly!). When zinc is absorbed in sufficient quantities, it causes red blood cells to be destroyed, leading to severe anemia.

Most of these items can be picked up on x-rays, luckily. Owners may notice pale gums, increased and/or shallow respiratory rate, weakness, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Removing the zinc object from the GI tract usually resolves the problems, however anemia may be so severe by the time things are figured out that blood transfusion is necessary.

Written by PetCoach Editorial September 12, 2018