House Cleaning Products That Are Toxic to Pets and How You Can Provide Emergency Care

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Jason Nguyen

Healthcare is well-developed and so accessible that now, pet owners can call in vets to attend to their animals in their homes.

There are services like a mobile vet in Columbus, Ohio, available in various cities across the United States, where pet owners can make appointments, including same-day checkups for their sick little companions. However, as caregivers, pet owners must know how to provide a safe environment for their pets and administer first aid in emergencies. 

Pets have extensive food restrictions that can fatally harm their health. Luckily, many pet owners usually know what not to feed their companions. Cleaning products can also fatally harm pets. So, what can pet owners do when their pets accidentally touch or ingest a cleaning product or something they shouldn’t? 

Reach Out to a Vet

removing water from glass

Before giving any help to the sick or injured pet, the first thing an owner should do is to call their vet. Most vets, including those providing home services, can offer emergency services. 

Owners can schedule an immediate appointment by contacting the vet, who can also give clear instructions about what to do. They can teach the owner how to provide emergency care without worsening the pet’s condition. 

If the situation is dire and the owner has a car, the better option is to take the little patient to a vet clinic immediately. Pet owners must have information about emergency vet clinics around their homes. 

Let’s get to what owners can do in certain emergencies. 


What can cause poisoning to humans will affect animals in the same way. Stuff like antifreeze, rodent poisons, and cleaning products can harm pets when they’re accidentally ingested. 

However, there are also some common foods that humans can consume that are poisonous to pets. For example, chocolate and onions are toxic to cats and dogs. Owners can check what the little patient ate or interacted with before showing symptoms to see if they’re poisoned. 

Depending on how toxic the product is, pets will show apparent symptoms that owners can pay attention to. If the pet ingests a poisonous product, it may drool excessively, seem lethargic and disoriented, and lose their appetite.

Some pets also vomit and get diarrhea. Cleaning products can also poison animals if they inhale a significant amount. Pets usually sneeze, cough, breathe through their mouths, and seem troubled in such situations. Their eyes typically water, and their gums would turn blueish. 

Some cleaning products can irritate the skin of humans and animals. When a pet’s skin shows redness, blisters, rashes, or irritation, they may have made contact with a toxic cleaning product. 

Poisoning by Cleaning Products

As mentioned, some cleaning products irritate human skin and affect animals similarly. These products usually have instructions for emergency care for skin and eye irritation. 

The labels may tell consumers to wash their skin with soap upon contact, and they can follow the exact instructions (unless the product got into the pet’s nose, mouth, or eyes).

The label may only require water to wash them off, and owners can flush the irritated skin or eyes immediately. However, owners must be gentle when providing care in these situations. 

Common Toxic Ingredients in House Cleaning Products

cleaning products

According to the Animal Poison Control Center, 8.3% of pet poisoning cases are due to exposure to everyday cleaning products.

Many household cleaning products contain isopropyl alcohol, formaldehyde, chlorine, bleach, and ammonia, which are toxic to pets. Here are several common ingredients in cleaning products that are toxic to pets. 


Ammonia is an ingredient in many cleaning products, including hardwood floor wax, oven cleaners, stainless steel cleaners, and window cleaners.

When a pet ingests ammonia, the product can cause burns on its mucus membranes. It’ll harm the throat, nose, and mouth area, whether the pet ingests or inhales it. 

When exposed to a pet for a long time, ammonia can cause respiratory problems. Pet owners must consult vets quickly when their pets show any signs of troubled breathing. 


Formaldehyde is a widespread ingredient that even some pet shampoos have. The chemical is mainly used as an embalming agent in funeral homes. However, several household products like soap, fragrances, and general-purpose cleaners may also have it. 

When pets are exposed to the chemical, it may cause severe irritation on their mane and eyes. Formaldehyde is also toxic to humans and has been recognized by the EPA as a carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer. On long-term exposure, formaldehyde can harm pets’ nervous and respiratory systems. 

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds

Antibacterial cleaners and fabric softeners contain quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC), which can be toxic to pets. When the QAC makes contact with pets, the animal may develop dermatitis. The dermatitis may cause blisters, lesions, hair loss, skin inflammation, itching, soreness, and ulcers. 

The symptoms, fortunately, are easy to spot. When the pet’s skin shows dryness or scaly red patches, it’s safe to doubt that they’ve had exposure to QAC. Dermatitis isn’t severe; most vets can help resolve it quickly. However, pet owners may want to stop using the product for laundry. 

Glycol Ethers

Glycol Ethers can be part of many household products like all-purpose cleaners, liquid soaps, and vehicle radiator antifreeze. The chemical has several names, including propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, and diethylene glycol. If any cleaning product contains any of these chemicals, it may threaten pets. 

The toxicosis of Glycol ethers is fatal and may cause metabolic acidosis, early CNS depression, cerebral edema, and gastrointestinal irritation. If left alone, the symptoms will progress to permanent kidney failure. 

Antifreeze is naturally sweet, so its taste may appeal to pets. But manufacturers have added a bittering agent since 2012. Still, some pets may find the fluid palatable or accidentally consume it. 

How to Keep Pets Safe

Manufacturers are aware of the danger of cleaning products to pets, so there are pet-safe cleaning products that pet owners can buy to prevent these accidents from happening.

Pet-safe cleaning products still contain some toxic ingredients, but these ingredients are smaller in amount and can reduce the risk of exposure. Pet owners looking to change their household cleaning products can find pet-safe floor cleaners, surface cleaners, disinfectant sprays, and others on the market. 

If not, pet owners can be more cautious about where they place their household cleaning products. They can keep the products out of the reach of their pets and not leave them unattended when open. It’s also a good idea to keep pets out of the room when cleaning and quickly ventilate the room by opening the windows. 

Using odorless products can help stop pets from getting closer to them. Pet owners can let their pets roam the rooms again once all surfaces are dry to prevent them from being exposed to harm.