Unseen Dangers: Toxic Household Cleaners Every Dog Owner Should Avoid

If you didn’t know that household cleaners are toxic to your dog, don’t beat yourself up. Most people aren’t aware of the chemicals hiding inside the bottle. If you’re reading this article, you’re making the first step in keeping your dog safe from harmful compounds.

Unsafe Cleaning Products

When it comes to our furry friends, their safety is paramount. While you may have dog-proofed your home by keeping chocolates out of reach or securing the trash bin, one often overlooked area is household cleaning products. Many of these are toxic to dogs and can pose serious health risks.

  • Bleach: While it’s a great disinfectant and stain remover, it’s highly toxic to dogs. Ingestion can cause vomiting, excessive salivation, and even chemical burns.
  • Laundry Detergent: Pods and liquid detergents can cause nausea, vomiting, and more serious complications like aspiration pneumonia if ingested by dogs.
  • All-Purpose Cleaners: These often contain harmful chemicals like ammonia, chlorine, glycol ethers or formaldehyde, all of which can cause stomach and respiratory tract irritation.
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaners: These products are some of the most dangerous cleaning products, as they often contain bleach and other chemicals harmful to dogs.
  • Drain Cleaners: These are also highly dangerous, as they can cause severe digestive tract burns if ingested.
  • Oven Cleaners: These contain potent alkalis, which can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract if ingested.
  • Carpet and Rug Shampoo: Certain types can contain perchloroethylene, a chemical that can be harmful to dogs.
  • Floor Cleaners: These can contain a wide range of chemicals harmful to dogs, including bleach and phosphates.
  • Window Cleaners: Many window cleaners contain ammonia, which is harmful to dogs if ingested or inhaled.
  • Antifreeze: Though not a cleaner, it’s worth mentioning due to its severe toxicity. Even a small amount can be lethal to dogs.
the hidden dangers of household cleaners to our dogs

Ingredients to Avoid

Before you buy a product, check the ingredients label for these toxic compounds:

  • Bleach: Commonly found in cleaning products, bleach can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and severe chemical burns in pets.
  • Ammonia: Used in many degreasers and window cleaning products, ammonia can cause severe irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.
  • Phenols: Often found in cleaners with “sol” in the name, these can be extremely toxic to pets, causing damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart.
  • Phthalates: Commonly used in air fresheners and in the production of plastic materials, phthalates can cause endocrine disruption.
  • Formaldehyde: Found in general household products like soaps and even some types of pet shampoo, formaldehyde can cause a variety of health issues in pets, including respiratory distress and digestive problems.
  • Chlorine: Used in disinfectants, toilet bowl cleaners, and laundry detergents, chlorine can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting, skin irritation, and excessive salivation in pets.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol): Commonly used in sanitizing products, this can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, and even potentially lead to coma or death in severe cases.
  • Perchloroethylene: Used in some carpet and rug cleaners, this chemical can cause nausea, diarrhea, tremors, and even kidney or liver damage.
  • Glycol Ethers: Found in carpet cleaners, spot removers, brake fluid, and even some cosmetics, glycol ethers can cause anemia, lung damage, and kidney damage in pets.

Always remember, if you suspect your pet has ingested a potentially toxic substance, it’s important to contact your vet immediately or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.

Signs of Chemical Poisoning in Your Dog

Exposure to toxic household cleaners can result in a variety of symptoms in dogs, often depending on the type of cleaner and the extent of the exposure. Common symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Vomiting or Diarrhea: These are often the first signs that a dog has ingested something harmful.
  • Excessive Drooling or Panting: These could indicate that the dog has ingested or inhaled a toxic substance and is trying to expel it or cool down.
  • Loss of Appetite: A dog may refuse to eat if it’s feeling unwell due to toxin exposure.
  • Lethargy or Weakness: A change in energy levels or trouble standing or walking can indicate serious illness.
  • Coughing, Sneezing, or Difficulty Breathing: These could be signs that a dog has inhaled a toxic substance.
  • Red, Irritated, or Watery Eyes: These symptoms can occur if a dog gets a cleaning product in its eyes.
  • Skin Irritation or Burns: Contact with certain cleaning products can cause these symptoms.
  • Seizures or Tremors: These are serious symptoms that can occur with exposure to certain toxins and require immediate veterinary attention.
  • Abdominal Pain: A dog may exhibit signs of discomfort, such as whining or whimpering, especially when its abdomen is touched.
  • Nose or Mouth Discharge: A dog might have a runny nose or frothy mouth after exposure to certain toxic cleaning products.

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms and you suspect poisoning, it’s critical to get veterinary help immediately. Try to bring the cleaning product container or a sample of the substance with you to the vet, as this can aid in diagnosis and treatment.

Pet-Friendly Commercial Cleaners

If you don’t want to make your own products and would rather purchase them, don’t worry. There are a bunch of products available these days. Here are some pet-friendly options:

  1. Better Life Natural All-Purpose Cleaner: This plant-derived cleaner is non-toxic and free from synthetic fragrances, making it safe for pets and humans alike.
  2. Seventh Generation Free & Clear All-Purpose Cleaner: Formulated without fragrances, dyes, or harsh fumes, it’s gentle on pets but tough on grime.
  3. Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner: This product is made from plant-based ingredients and is biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and free of harsh chemicals.
  4. Method Squirt + Mop Hard Floor Cleaner: This biodegradable formula is non-toxic and safe for pets, making it a good option for cleaning your floors.
  5. Nature’s Miracle Deep Cleaning Pet Stain and Odor Carpet Shampoo: Designed specifically for homes with pets, this product works to remove pet stains and odors from carpets.
  6. Biokleen Bac-Out Stain+Odor Remover: This is a great option for pet messes, using live enzyme-producing cultures to combat stains and odors.
  7. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap: This natural product is safe to use around pets and can be diluted for a variety of cleaning tasks.
  8. Eco-Me Natural Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner: This product is free from dyes, parabens, and harsh chemicals, making it a safer choice for households with pets.
  9. Aunt Fannie’s Vinegar Wash Floor Cleaner: Made with vinegar and plant-based ingredients, this product is pet-friendly and ideal for cleaning hard surface floors.
  10. Bona Free & Simple Hardwood Floor Cleaner: Certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, it’s a hypoallergenic and pet-friendly option for hardwood floors.

Remember, even when using pet-friendly cleaning products, it’s a good idea to keep pets out of the area until the cleaning process is complete and the product is thoroughly dry or rinsed away.

Personally, I use Melaleuca cleaning products. I know they’re safe for not only my dogs, but also my kids. And, my kids love to help clean. So, I can let my mind be at ease whether they’re wiping down the cabinets or just have a mess of their own to clean up.

dog friendly cleaning products safe for dogs and children

Make Your Own

If you do want to make your own cleaners, you can rest assured knowing you made the cleaner and it’s safe for your dog. There’s no wondering what’s inside because you made it yourself. Here are some recipes:

DIY Furniture Polish

Traditional furniture polish contains petroleum distillates and nitrobenzene. Both of these compounds are toxic. Instead, make your own using these ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Use this mixture just like you would apply regular polish.

DIY Wood Floor Cleaner

If you’re looking for a pet-safe wood floor cleaner, you can easily make one at home using simple, non-toxic ingredients. Here’s a basic recipe:


  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • 1 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1-2 drops of essential oil (optional – some essential oils can be harmful to pets, so please make sure the one you’re using is safe. Lemon or lavender are often good options.)


  1. Fill a large bucket with one gallon of warm water.
  2. Add one cup of distilled white vinegar.
  3. If desired, add a drop or two of pet-safe essential oil for a fresh scent. Be careful not to add too much as strong smells can be irritating to your pet.
  4. Mix the solution well.
  5. Dip a mop into the solution and wring it out well – you want it damp, not soaking wet.
  6. Mop your wood floors, going with the grain of the wood to avoid streaks.
  7. Allow your floors to air dry. No rinsing is necessary.

Use Plants As Air Fresheners

It can be tempting to use aerosol sprays or air fresheners to get rid of the odd smells in your home. But these are usually full of (you guessed it)… chemicals.

Air purifying plants do the double duty of cleaning the air and helping to remove odors, so you can ditch those sprays. Throw them all in the garbage and grab these plants to purify the air:

  • Money tree
  • Spider plant
  • Boston fern
  • Areca Palm

Keep Your Home Clean Safely

Keeping your home clean is important for your mental and physical health, but if you’re using harsh chemicals, it could be detrimental to both. On top of it being hazardous to your own health while cleaning, the residue and vapors left behind are dangerous for your dog and the rest of your family. Your best bet is making your own products or doing some research on products before purchasing.

Don’t take a company at their word. Do you research to make sure there aren’t any toxic compounds in the bottle.

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