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Poison Information

Common Purse & Pocket Items That Can Poison Your Dog

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Yorkshore Terrier In A Black Travel Bag

Have you ever left an open handbag sitting on the coffee table or the floor? Have you ever emptied the contents of your pockets onto your nightstand or another table within your dog’s reach? You may inadvertently be exposing your pets to common purse and pocket items that can poison your dog. The ASPCA’s National Animal Poison Control Center estimates nearly 100,000 cases of accidental dog poisoning each year.

In addition to the most common causes of poisoning, like chocolate or pesticides, any dog owner should be aware of these other dangers, explained by veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker at Mercola.com.

Common Purse & Pocket Items That Can Poison Your Dog

Human medications.

About half the yearly calls to the Pet Poison Helpline are because someone’s pet ingested a medication found in a handbag, book bag, duffel bag, etc. Human pills come in bottles, and the sound of a rattling pill bottle is very similar to the noise some dog toys make.

Both over-the-counter and prescriptions drugs can be a problem. Very common OTC painkillers like Advil, Motrin and Tylenol, and human doses of prescription drugs for depression like Prozac and Effexor, can be toxic to pets.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil, Motrin and Aleve, can cause GI ulcers and kidney failure and are especially dangerous for kitties. Just one Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be fatal to cats, and larger amounts can cause liver failure in a dog.

Antidepressants are the number one cause of calls to Pet Poison Helpline. Signs a pet has ingested one of these drugs include sedation, loss of coordination, agitation, trembling and seizures.

Asthma inhalers.

If your dog bites into an asthma inhaler, it has the potential to result in acute, life-threatening poisoning. These inhalers contain highly concentrated doses of drugs like albuterol (a beta-agonist) and fluticasone (a steroid).

If a dog punctures an inhaler by biting or gnawing it, she can be exposed to a massive single dose of a powerful drug which can bring on vomiting, agitation, heart arrhythmia, collapse, and ultimately, death.

Artificially sweetened gum and mints.

Many ‘sugarless’ gums and mints contain xylitol – a sugar substitute highly toxic to dogs. Even a small amount of xylitol can result in a dangerous blood sugar crash in canines, and larger amounts can lead to liver failure.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, weakness, collapse, shaking and seizures.

In addition to gum, mints and other sugarless candy, xylitol is commonly found in chewable vitamins, certain prescription drugs, dental hygiene products, nicotine gum and baked goods.

Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other products containing nicotine.

Did you know a small dog can die from ingesting just three cigarettes, depending on the brand? Chewing tobacco is also toxic to dogs and cats, and so are stop-smoking products like nicotine gum.

Signs of nicotine poisoning come on quickly and include elevated heart and respiratory rates, neurological symptoms, loss of bladder or bowel control, tremors, seizures, paralysis and death.

Hand sanitizer.

Small bottles of hand sanitizer have become commonplace in purses, briefcases and backpacks. These products, which are used to kill germs, contain lots of alcohol. Alcohol (ethanol), is the germ-killing agent in these gels and liquids.

If your dog were to ingest a small bottle of hand sanitizer, it would be about the equivalent of a shot of hard liquor. This could cause a severe drop in your pet’s blood sugar, loss of coordination, loss of body temperature, nervous system depression, coma, and death.

Continue reading here. Taking simple precautions, like zipping your purse or leaving pocket contents out of your dog’s reach can save your dog from the risk of accidental poisoning. Are you aware of any other common purse and pocket items that can poison your dog? Share them with us below!

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  1. Avatar Of Claire Richards

    Claire Richards


    When my dog was only a few months old he unzipped two zippers in my purse with his teeth and swallowed two different medicines. A frantic trip to the emergency vet saved him. You can’t underestimate how devious some pets can be.

  2. Avatar Of Mary Ward-Eaton

    Mary Ward-Eaton


    Manicure kits contain sharp objects and I worry about those. My dog likes to check my purse out, rejects pills, adores Kleenex and anything plastic or food, of course. But there may be that first time she swallows a pill, or a family member leaves candy in my purse so I simply make sure it’s always out of her reach. She may be 10 but she’s still my baby – nothing will happen to her on my watch!

  3. Avatar Of Linda S.

    Linda S.


    I will remain a loyal customer. I trust your product and Blue Buffalo offers an extensive line of options in both dry and wet dog food. It is one of the best quality dog foods on the market.

  4. Avatar Of Penny Penny says:

    It would be safest to have a divided bag where you can keep all of your personal items in a smaller side that zips closed, and the pup in the larger side. I’ve seen such bags, in fact, I’ve used such….my personal stuff in the smaller side, my laptop, Bible, latest read, whatever, in the other.

  5. Avatar Of Teresa



    I always try to leave my purse where my dog can’t reach it! Don’t want to run the risk of her getting ahold of any of my meds or anything else dangerous that might be in there.

  6. Avatar Of Gail



    Great reminder!

  7. Avatar Of Michelle P

    Michelle P


    I use to work in a dog daycare and she loved to dig into my purse to get at the dog treats and bones left in there. A close second was the kleenexes, usually woke up to find those all over the house.

  8. Avatar Of Olivia Arizmendi

    Olivia Arizmendi


    I’d like to add the silica gel packets that come in new bags and purses

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