Spring Cleaning Dog Dangers to Avoid


Spring has sprung and it’s time for spring cleaning in many households all across the globe, but there are a number of hidden dangers lurking that can harm your dog. Before you pick up that spray bottle, unearth that dust cloth, or sprinkle that carpet deodorizer, read on to keep your dog(s) safe, sound, and ready for spring. These are spring cleaning dog dangers to avoid:

Safety First

Dogs spend much of their time at home, lounging around, playing, eating, sleeping, etc. Whatever chemicals you use to clean house can directly affect a dog’s health. Consider the dog’s paws and his proximity to the floor: Anything down low is definitely going to affect a dog. He walks on the floor/carpeting, and whatever you use is going to affect his skin, lungs, coat, feet, and possibly even his oral cavity: If he licks it, then that’s a whole other internal set of issues.

There are so many unfamiliar ingredients in cleaners that it can be complicated and confusing to figure out what is safe and what is harmful to a dog’s overall health. Additionally, if your dog suffers from environmental and/or seasonal allergies, household cleaners and stirring up dust can trigger a whole set of issues.


Know Thine Ingredients

Years ago, I took to reading the back of dog food and dog treat packages. As we have written about before, the happy healthy looking dog on the front of a package does not always make sense considering the ingredients in some lesser quality pet foods and treats. The same mantra holds true for cleaning agents:  Know if they are pet safe before you use them.

According to my colleague, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, “check your cleaning products’ labels and avoid the following ingredients:

  • Phenols (which are typically found in cleaners with the word “sol” in the name)
  • Phthalates
  • Formaldehyde (found in general household cleaners)
  • Bleach
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Perchloroethylene (found in rug and carpet shampoos)


Where to Start

We’d be here until next spring if we tried to list every single ingredient that might be harmful to dogs, but this is where being diligent comes into play.

Chemicals used on lawns, gardens, and houseplants: These are easily accessible and can be fatal if a dog is allowed to step on the treated lawn, get near any insect repellants, or ingest chemicals designed for pest control or to promote lawn growth.

If you walk your dog, you are at risk. Never allow your dog to step on grass that might be treated with a chemical. Many neighbors in my area designate that their lawn was recently treated, but many folks aren’t so forthcoming. Proceed with caution. Wash paws upon return. Springtime and summertime dangers lurk on grassy lawns.

Cocoa Mulch

Used in gardens and businesses, proceed with caution even if you do not use it, as someone around you probably does. The mulch comes from the cocoa plant, and yes that is the same plant that gives us chocolate and cocoa powder. Not only can dogs get very sick, but the caffeine and theobromine in the cocoa mulch are very toxic. In fact, cocoa mulch is potentially more dangerous than milk chocolate. Get your pet to an emergency veterinarian if any sort of ingestion occurs.



The toxic vapors of mothballs can cause harm to both people and pets. Naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene are two chemicals that are infused into a mothball, both of which release toxic vapors that can harm living beings. Mothballs should be kept in airtight containers and not where pets can easily access them. We’ve taken to cedar shavings in my household, with great moth-repellant success.

Household Cleaners

Keep household cleaners of any kind away from dogs. Namely, keep pets away from chlorine, toilet bowl cleaners, ammonia, drain cleaners, and laundry detergent. Replace any toxic or dangerous products with safer non toxic alternatives to keep your house clean and your dog safe and healthy. Please take a peek at that link, as it has many safe alternatives to keeping dogs out of harm’s way. Consider that dog’s lick their fur and feet and this should have you running for safer options.


Water Globes

They look great in our home and are a fine decorative item unless broken. As you spring clean, move those water globes out of a dog’s path. Ethylene glycol can usually be found water globes, and this is an ingredient that can kill dogs. If the globe breaks and a dog laps the liquid up, seek immediate veterinary attention, as this is highly fatal.

Fire Logs

As you stack the fire logs and clean out the fireplace, proceed with caution. There were nearly 17,000 calls to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in 2013 about household products in 2013. According to the ASPCA website, “Household toxins can range from fire logs to cleaning products. Some items can be corrosive, while other can cause obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract requiring surgical intervention.”

Pest Control: Rodenticides

Depending on the type of mouse trap or bait, if a dog ingests it, he or she can suffer internal bleeding, kidney failure or seizures, and death. Keep dogs away from these products if you use them.


Pet Safe Product Myths

Although pet-safe cleaning products are designed to reduce the likelihood that trauma or toxicity will occur should your pet ingest them, there is no 100 percent guarantee that the product will not cause harm. “All natural” does not mean “all safe.” Remember that if nothing else: All natural is not necessarily all safe.

Do not allow a pet’s coat, skin, or paws to come into contact with any sort of cleaning agent or product. Period.


Prevention is Key

Keep the Pet Poison Safety line handy as well as the ASPCA 24-hour emergency line and that of your veterinarian and emergency vet.

Products I Use

Though we do not specifically endorse any cleaning products, here are a few that I use and have had very good success with over the years, particularly in my year-round cleaning efforts of a dog home:

Clean + Green by SeaYu: To provide pet cleaning products – that actually work, are easy to use and are safe for people, pets and the planet: this is the mission of the company. I have used three of their products over the past few years with great results. Of course, I keep all cleaning products away from dog. I should also note that I have environmental allergies, and the furniture polish/cleaner has been a viable option for me. I am not sneezing nor have irritated nasal passages or coughing when using the product.


Pet Hair: When cleaning pet hair off furniture or clothing, I discovered a fab product while in Colorado recently for a business trip. It does not look pretty, but it really works. It is called Furz-Off and it looks like an old, cruddy rock. The appearance is not indicative of how great it works. It literally sweeps dog hair off the couch, bedding, clothing, etc. When it comes time to remove the pet hair, no water or rinsing is required. Just pull the pet hair off in one strip, similar to dryer lint removal.


Swiffer Dry Cleaning Cloths

Common sense is not to let your dog eat these or any cleaning product. As a cleaning tool, however, these thick dirt-grabbing dry cloths have ridges and grooves, and do not emit a chemical.  For me, they seem to pick up more dirt, dust, and hair than a broom. I use them on the end of a Swiffer dry mop and also as dry cleaning cloths for surfaces.


Go Green

You can also go green to keep your dog safe and healthy and use your own pet-friendly concoctions. Our friend Sonya Singh of Paw Posse authored a very beneficial keeping pets safe with clean and green cleaning products article for Fidose of Reality.

Fleas and Ticks

Bonus tip: If you prefer a less toxic way to prevent fleas and ticks on your dog, be sure to check out our chemical-free flea and tick prevention article.

Keeping dogs safe from lurking dangers of household chemicals takes a bit of thought, but isn’t it worth it to keep your precious pooch out of harm’s way and enjoying the sun, fun, and joyfulness that is spring and summer?

Did we miss any tips that have worked for you in keeping dogs safe and away from toxic products? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. This is a must read article. I never new about fire logs being toxic to dogs, it’s just something I never considered. This past Christmas I just found a broken water globe in my attic. Never did I think for a minute this could have been toxic to my pets. Thanks for a wealth of information.

  2. We love just using plain old vinegar and warm water to mop up floors. Might not be quite as effective as the stronger household cleaners, but it’s safe and disinfects. For fleas and ticks we use a frequency barrier (shoo tags) – no putting poisons in our pets blood stream. Wrote a post about that fairly recently.

    Thanks for the great tip about furz off!

    1. OOOH I love reading about flea and tick protection that does not contain poison, as we won’t use toxins either, Jen. Will check that post out.

  3. This is great to know. I am careful with Frosty our cat but it will come in handy when our Chorkie Misty comes home.

  4. Good info! We use all natural products now…mostly home made. Vinegar and baking soda does a great job on floors and I don’t have to worry about the pups licking nasty chemical cleaners off their paws! We use white vinegar to kill weeds between the bricks on the patio. NO nasty chemical weed killers here. This yard belongs to my pups!

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