While many of us are adjusting to working from home, or learning how to homeschool our children, one thing is certain—our pets are delighted to have the company. What could be better than having the whole family home for extra cuddles and treats? Thankfully, COVID-19 does not appear to pose any threat to pets, but all the extra home activity may put our furry friends at risk. Be mindful of the following potential hazards as you, your pets, and your family find a new normal at home. 

In the kitchen

If you’re like many Americans at home these days, you may find yourself making bread and pizza dough, in lieu of heading to the market for fresh-baked goods. While baking may seem like an innocent activity, you should keep Fido out of the kitchen, as many common baking ingredients can severely harm pets who ingest them. Be cautious when using the following:

  • Yeast dough — The dough can cause potentially life-threatening conditions when the material expands and dilates in the stomach. A chemical reaction can also occur, leading to intoxication signs.
  • Xylitol — A popular sugar substitute, xylitol can cause dangerously low blood glucose levels in pets, and is highly toxic at minute levels. While perfectly safe for human consumption, xylitol is a big no-no for pets.
  • Chocolate — Largely recognised as dangerous for pets, chocolate has the potential to cause hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, and neurologic signs. In general, the darker the chocolate, the more potent and toxic for pets, but it’s best to avoid giving your pet chocolate altogether.

In the cabinets

If you’ve recently stocked up on cold, flu, and pain medications, ensure you store them in a safe place, away from pets. A locked cabinet or child-proofed drawer are suitable places for potentially dangerous drugs, especially if you have a curious puppy or kitten in the household. This rule also holds true for hazardous disinfectants and sanitizers, such as chlorine-containing products, or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. While these products may help keep your home and family safe from certain viruses, they could cause serious harm if ingested, or applied topically to your pet’s skin. Never use these products on your pet. 

At the craft table

With the kids out of school, parents and caretakers are left to emulate academic structure at home. Popular activities may include crafts, art projects, and science experiments. Regarding your pets, you must be especially vigilant with items such as magnets, yarn, and sand. Also, be particularly cautious with any craft projects around younger pets, who tend to be overly inquisitive, and prone to ingesting foreign objects. 

In the garage

More time at home may mean you have more time for projects and renovations around the house. Perhaps you finally have the time to replace the baseboards, or start that bathroom remodel. Regardless of the project, you may be spending some quality time in the garage, where a number of dangers lie. In addition to classic threats such as nails, screws, and sharp tools, pets may ingest glues, paints, cleaners, or other chemicals. We commonly see pets who have ingested these two chemicals: 

  • Antifreeze (ethylene glycol) — The sweet taste makes it dangerously alluring, but small doses can lead to acute kidney failure in pets. 
  • Polyurethane adhesives (i.e. Gorilla Glue®) — These products harden in the pet’s stomach after ingestion, often necessitating surgery. 


If social distancing and isolation are keeping your pet from getting the exercise she needs, her behavior may become more erratic. Like people, pets also experience stress, but they show their stress differently, including new-found barking, hiding, digging, and other destructive behaviors. Anxious pets may also be prone to bolt, so keep doors and fences securely latched, and ensure your pet’s microchip information is up to date. 

At University Veterinary Hospital, we know these are trying times, and we want to help your pets stay happy and healthy during this important period of social distancing. Avoiding pet problems at home means fewer emergency trips to the veterinarian—a universal goal right now. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, contact our office. You can also download and use our Telehealth app for 24/7 virtual pet care—see our website for instructions.