How I Met My Dog

5 Household Products That Are Unsafe for Dogs + Their Safe Alternatives

As dog owners, protecting our pooches is our most important responsibility. Sometimes though, even the most loyal and loving dog owner may put their pup at risk without even knowing it.

This list is by no means an all-encompassing, but we thought it would be helpful to highlight five different household products that can be dangerous to dogs, along with safe alternatives you can use in their place.

1. Most household cleaning products are unsafe for dogs

It may seem like second nature that your dog shouldn’t ingest cleaning products such as laundry detergent, but what about the mess on the ground that you cleaned up with disinfecting wipes? It may seem harmless, but that product could make your dog sick if he came sniffing and decided to lick it up.

Safe Alternative:

Try the product called “The Best All-Purpose Cleaner” by the New York Times. The brand is Puracy, and they use a natural, plant-based formula to create an all-purpose cleaner that's safe for dogs.

2. Fabric Softener

Fabric softeners contain detergent and are not safe for dogs. This is also an easy one for a dog to pick up, as often you have no idea where your dryer sheet is until you find it stuck to a random sock. Sometimes though, the dryer sheet unknowingly falls to the floor and can quickly be picked up by a curious dog.

Safe Alternative:

All-natural organic dryer balls make for an alternative that you can keep track of and toss back in the dryer if one falls out. Try putting a drop of your favorite essential oil onto the balls to add your own unique scent.

3. Fertilizer

Most fertilizers are unsafe for dogs due to a high number of compounds that can become poisonous in large doses. These include phosphorus, iron, nitrogen, potassium, and zinc. 

Dogs will come in direct contact with fertilizers running around on the lawn, and then come inside and will lick on irritated paws. This means you must be especially conscious of what you’re putting on your lawn. If you use a service, make sure to check on what ingredients they’re using.

Safe Alternative:

Scott’s Natural Lawn Food can cover up to 4,000 square feet with an all-natural fertilizer that’s safe for dogs.

4. De-Icing Salt

For your safety and the safety of others, de-icing salt is a necessity in many parts of the country this time of the year. For dogs though, de-icing salt can get stuck between paws, and the side effects range from irritation of the skin and gastrointestinal discomfort, to serious illness if ingested in large quantities.

Safe Alternative:

Thankfully, there are a wide variety of safe deicing salt options on the market. Natural Rapport Pet and Kid Friendly Ice Melt is a highly regarded alternative product made by pet owners.

5. Pest Control Products

Pesticides accounted for over 32-percent of all lawn and garden sales as recently as 2014, and the majority of those chemicals are not safe for dogs.

Dr. Tina Wismer, the Medical Director of ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, described these chemicals saying “Lawn chemicals can vary widely in their safe use around pets. Some items, such as fertilizers, may only cause mild stomach upset, while others, such as insecticides, can be deadly.”

Safe Alternative:

Ecosmart makes an organic pest control spray for use in and out of the home. You can go with either a 24-ounce spray bottle, a 64-ounce wand spray bottle, or a 10-lb bag of granules.

Products with No Safe Alternative


You may be thinking to yourself, how would my dog get into antifreeze? Until recently, antifreeze had a sweet taste, and therefore an alluring smell to dogs. The sweetness comes from the principal poisoning agent, ethylene glycol.

Luckily, in 2013 the Human Society Legislative Fund and the Consumer Specialty Products Association jointly came together to arrange for a bittering agent to be added to antifreeze which would mask its sweet smell.

It’s comforting to know that the alluring aspect of antifreeze has been covered up, but if your dog gets curious in the garage, make sure the antifreeze is high up on a shelf.

Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Prescription Medicine

I think we’ve all had that moment when you pop a bottle of Tylenol and shake a couple out, only to have one fall to the floor and scamper off to parts unknown in your bathroom. If your dog decides to go on a pill sniffing adventure in your bathroom, it could lead to liver damage.

Try not to open pill bottles around dogs. It's too easy for one to fall to the floor and instantly be consumed by a lightning-quick lick.

Cancer Treatment Creams

Five dogs died in 2017 as a result of consuming a topical cream made for treating cancer, called Fluorouracil.

Any contact to this medication can be deadly to dogs, even with immediate medical attention.

Under no circumstances should your dog have even the slightest chance of coming near this medication.

Consult Poison Control for More Information

This list is by no means exhaustive. We encourage you to visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control website to review any potentially harmful products that you may have in the house near your dogs. 

As most dog owners know, pooches can be particularly curious creatures, especially when you aren't in the house to monitor them. Don't leave anything to chance, proactively make sure your home is free of potential toxins, and rest easy knowing your dog is safe.

What's Yours is Mine

Dogs are especially drawn to shoes, remote controls, cell phones, underwear, and socks because these items are covered with the scent of their humans.

Back to Blog