Household Cleaning Products and Your Pet: What You Should Know About

Dr. Justine Lee's talks about certain household cleaners that are particularly dangerous for pets. For more from Dr. Lee, find her on Facebook!

Today we’re going to talk about certain “spring cleaning” products that are very dangerous to pets. Now, keep in mind that most household surface cleaning products only result in minor clinical signs of vomiting and diarrhea; these are products that you typically spray on windows and kitchen counters to wipe them down.

However, there are certain cleaning products in your house can be really dangerous to dogs and cats. Products that pose the biggest corrosive or caustic danger threat are:

  • Drain cleaners
  • Pool chemicals
  • Concentrated dishwashing chemicals
  • Lime-removal products
  • Oven cleaners
  • Concentrated toilet cleaners

My general guideline on how to differentiate safer versus more dangerous household cleaners is this: items that smell really bad are typically pretty dangerous. My second tip? If you see the words “CAUTION” versus “DANGER” on the bottle; the word “DANGER” typically means the product is corrosive or caustic, and can cause severe injury to you and your pet.

Corrosive or caustic products can cause chemical burns when ingested or when accidentally exposed to the fur and skin. If your dog or cat is accidentally exposed to these chemicals, it requires immediate first aid care at home and a visit to your veterinarian right away.

  • Clinical signs of corrosive or caustic injury includes:
  • Red, raw skin
  • Blistering of the skin
  • Pain
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Severe drooling
  • Not eating
  • Fever
  • Pawing at the eyes
  • Tearing of the eyes
  • Lethargy or malaise

Untreated, it can result in severe tissue damage (like rupturing the esophagus or stomach!) or even death.

So, what do you do if your dog or cat accidentally is exposed to a corrosive or caustic substance?

  1. First, safely get your pet to a safe area (to prevent them from ingesting more!).
  2. Carefully gather the container or substance to bring to the veterinary hospital or to describe to the veterinarian (protect yourself by using gloves).
  3. Contact your veterinarian for further immediate recommendations.
  4. If the product was ingested or chewed on, flush your pet’s mouth out with tap water, making sure that they don’t choke on it or inhale it. You can use a turkey baster or even a kitchen sink hose; however, never stick the house down your pet’s throat or mouth, as they can choke on this. Make sure your dog’s nose is pointed down towards the ground to prevent excess water from being swallowed or inhaled. Attempt to flush for 10-15 minutes.
  5. If your cat was affected, offer something tasty like canned tuna water or chicken broth to help flush out the mouth.
  6. Once you begin these steps, seek immediate veterinary attention.

If there was dermal exposure of a corrosive or caustic substance (e.g., onto the skin or fur):

  1. Liberally flush the affected area with water, using protective gloves or gear to keep you safe.
  2. Safely gather the container or substance to bring to the veterinary hospital or to describe to the veterinarian.
  3. Apply a generous amount of sterile lubricant (such as KY® Jelly), but do not apply any chemicals or neutralizing agents!
  4. Loosely cover the wound with gauze or a bandage.
  5. Seek immediate veterinary attention.

When in doubt, keep these dangerous cleaning chemicals out of reach of your pets (and kids!). Use childproof locks and make sure to lock your pets OUT of the area when you are cleaning.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

9 Pet-Friendly Cleaning Supplies That Are Nontoxic to Animals

From all-purpose surface cleaners to pet stains removers, these safe picks will have your home looking spotless without harming your sweet floofs.

Most people know that harsh chemicals like bleach aren't good for pets (or humans!) to be around, but did you know that common household ingredients — like essential oils — are actually very toxic to cats? That means everything from diffusers to those homemade vinegar and essential oil surface sprays could be harming your pets.

We cut through the clutter and rounded up a list of products that are safe for use around animals. From all-purpose surface cleaners to pet stains removers, these picks will have your home looking spotless without harming your sweet floofs.

If your dog slobbers all over windows and glass doors, make sure the products you're wiping them down with won't harm them in the future. Seventh Generation's glass and surface cleaner will leave your windows streak-free without the use of harsh ammonia.

When accidents happen on the carpet, your first instinct might be to go for a strong disinfectant like bleach. The problem is that this not only harms the fibers in your carpets and rugs, but it can also harm your animals when they pick up residues from walking over or laying on top of the spot after it's been cleaned. Go for an animal-friendly disinfectant instead, like Clean+Green Professional Strength Pet Odor Eliminator and Stain Remover, which relies on plant extracts to remove stains and odors with just a few sprays.

We don't often consider how the products on our floors end up getting into the mouths and onto the skin of our pets. Every time they groom themselves or lick their paws after having walked around, they're ingesting trace chemicals that can be toxic in the long run. This floor cleaner uses plant-based enzymes to break down spills, messes, and stuck-on gunk, without leaving behind a tacky residue.

Strong disinfectants like bleach — or even heavily scented detergents — shouldn't be used on a pet's furniture, blankets, bedding, etc., as the residue can easily transfer to their skin and cause irritation. Go for a natural, unscented detergent like this one that's still strong enough to fight stains and odors without all the extra additives. It's four times concentrated, which means it'll last longer and produce less waste, too.

Does your pet have a lot of accidents? Clean them up safely with a green spray solution that's safe for them and safe for the environment. WhizzAway helps sanitize and deodorize pee stains, and it comes in a convenient spray bottle for easy application.

This is one of our all-time favorite all-purpose surface cleaners. This small bottle holds a concentrated solution that can be mixed with water to create a full gallon's worth of cleaner, so you'll be reducing plastic and waste by using it.

Does your dog drink from the toilet bowl all the time? It's probably best to skip the bleach and harsh cleaners if that's the case. Seventh Generation's toilet cleaner is powerful and effective, but it's still gentle enough that the residue won't affect your pet.

Not only does this spray eliminate pet odors and stains, it can also be used for regular accidents around the house, like food or drink spills (helloooo, wine and coffee stains!). It works on hard surfaces as well, so we recommend it as a solid all-purpose product. It's also enzyme-free, which is best for pets that are on medications (as some can be denatured by cleaning solutions with enzymes in them).

1 pound, $11 BUY NOW

If all else fails (or if you don't have time to order a special cleaning solution), there's always baking soda! Sprinkle it on for an easy, nontoxic way to remove odors from carpets, mattresses, and fabrics.

Cleaning Products & Your Pets

Our pets are what make our house a home, but they are also what make our homes a lot messier!

Did you know that the everyday household cleaning agents we use can be harmful to our pets? Unlike us, our pets spend most of their time lying on the floor, licking and eating the treats and crumbs we drop, and we all know a cat or two that even hops onto the counter-tops. This means that our pets' exposure to harmful products is much higher because they spend so much of their time on or near the floor breathing in toxins, licking them up, ingesting them, or absorbing them through their paw pads. So, you may be asking “how do I keep my house clean but also make sure my pets are safe”? Well here are a few tips and tricks to ensure your household cleaners are safe for you and your pets!

DO NOT USE products that include:

  • Bleach - While a very tough cleaning agent, exposure to bleach can cause vomiting, diarrhea, burns inside of the mouth and throat, and seizures.
  • Ammonia - This is an ingredient in many degreasers for stainless steel and oven cleaners. Ammonia can cause burns to the nose, mouth, throat, and respiratory tract which can lead to asthma. If mixed with bleach, this can even create a poisonous gas that is deadly to small animals.
  • Chlorine - Found in many all-purpose cleaners, dishwashing detergents, disinfecting wipes, and toilet bowl cleaners. Chlorine can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.

DO USE products such as:

  • Melaleuca - Here at Benbow Veterinary Services we have put a lot of research into safe and natural cleaning products that won’t harm your pets! They have a multitude of cleaning products for different areas of your home, all of which include NO chlorine bleach, NO ammonia, and NO phosphates. Their formulas contain naturally derived ingredients like thyme oil, Melaleuca Oil, carnauba wax, and citric acid. It is very safe for both humans and pets, and you get the power of effective cleaning, stain-lifting, deodorizing, and disinfecting without the danger of harsh chemicals.
  • You can also use simple mixes of natural ingredients like baking soda, lemon juice, or vinegar, with water.

Enjoy these tips from Benbow Veterinary Services and have a safe spring cleaning!

Published: April 22, 2019 / Author: Dr. Elisabeth Ducoing
Filed In: Pet Health Tips

Here are the best pet-safe cleaning products:

  • The best pet-safe detergent for laundry: Seventh Generation Free & Clear
  • The best pet-safe hard surface sanitizer: SaniDate Hard Surface Sanitizer
  • The best pet-safe cleaner for floors: Method Squirt + Mop Hard Floor Cleaner
  • The best pet-safe carpet shampoo: Nature's Miracle Advanced Deep Cleaning Carpet Shampoo
  • The best pet-safe insect control: Zevo Pest Control Bundle

Prices and links are current as of 5/04/2020. Based on additional testing and research, we replaced the best pet-safe detergent (Tide Purclean Unscented) with a new pick. Replaced best cleaning wipes category (Clorox Anywhere Wipes) with new category for the best pet-safe hard surface sanitizer.

Pet Safe Cleaning Recipes

When it comes to pet safe cleaning, these recipes have your whole house covered! You don’t need to worry about using them around your pet or be concerned if your pet accidentally licks the newly washed floor (or drinks out of the toilet)!

1. All Purpose Cleaner

For the bathroom or kitchen (or really any room in the house), you just need 3 ingredients for an effective, pet friendly disinfectant: apple cider vinegar, water, and lemon juice.

Mix one part vinegar and four parts water in a spray bottle. Add some lemon juice to the mix and shake, shake, shake.

This pet safe disinfectant not only works great, it also smells great too.

2. For those tough stains…

When the above just won’t do the trick, you can get a little tougher without adding chemicals to the mix. This is good for cleaning the grout in the shower, baked on stains on the stove top, or giving grease a kick out the door!

  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Mix it together until it forms a thick paste. Add more vinegar if you need a little more liquid. Use a sponge or rag and scrub those tough spots using a circular motion. Rinse well with warm water.

3. Glass Cleaner

When most of us think about cleaning those grimy windows or dirty mirrors, our minds automatically go to that blue liquid… but this chemical cocktail is just not safe for your pet.

Instead, a simple blend of lemon juice and water will do the trick. Add 5 tablespoons of lemon juice to 2 liters of water and mix well. Pour into a spray bottle, then wipe the surfaces clean with a clean lint-free cloth or old cotton t-shirt.

4. Floor Cleaner

This is a biggie. Think about where your pet spends most of his time, or the fact that his paws come in contact with the floor all day long.

If you’re using a chemical based cleaner, it’s getting onto his fur, into his skin, and on his paws.

For a safe alternative, pour 1 cup of vinegar (white or apple cider) and 1 litre of water into your mop bucket, give it a little stir, and mop away.


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