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Safer Home Cleaning Products When You Have Pets

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Updated: September 17, 2020

Choosing Cleaning Products When You Have Pets

It has been said that cleaning a house with pets is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos — both are fruitless endeavors. That said, it’s still important to do (the first one, that is) at least every now and again, especially because you have pets. 

105_cleaning_cat_gifs.gifPets live close to the floor and carpeting; they lick windows, flooring, frankly most any surface (repeatedly!), so making sure our cleaning products are free from harmful toxins is important.Also because pets are smaller and often breathe deeper and more rapidly than people, they intake more airborne toxins than we do, and unfortunately they can’t open a door or a window themselves to “air out” a nasty and irritating cleaning chemical smell.

The Top Cleaning Product Ingredients That Could Be Harmful to Your Pets


Ammonia is often foundcleaning-with-dogs-in-your-house-is-like-brushing-your-teeth-while-eating-oreos-38383.png in window cleaner, oven cleaner, counter top sprays and scrubs, degreasers, carpet cleaner, as well as in drain cleaner. Ammonia is a powerful respiratory irritant and your pet can suffer respiratory tract problems if they breathe in too much of the stuff. (You know that pungent odor coming from your cat's litter box when you don't scoop often enough? That's often ammonia and it's a common reason why cats steer clear of their unkempt litter boxes!)

Chlorine (Bleach)

Chlorine is a primary ingredient in many cleaning and sanitizing products, including laundry detergents, dish detergents, and disinfectants. This is probably the most common cleaning product ingredients found around the home, and is a very potent irritant of the respiratory tract in cats and dogs (as well as in people). When inhaled or ingested, chlorine can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, vomiting, and mucous membrane damage. If you have a pet that likes to drink from the toilet bowl be very careful with what you use to keep the toilet bowl clean, as many toilet cleaners contain chlorine bleach.

You'll also want to check your cleaning products for the presence of Phthalates (often simply labeled as "fragrance"), Glycol Ethers, and Formaldehyde. Even products labeled as "natural" cleaners might contain ingredients that are toxic to pets but technically natural by definition.

If you use such cleaning products around your home, do so only in accordance with the manufacturers instructions and be especially cautious to use them in well-ventilated areas and do not use them in the presence of your pets.

WARNING: Whatever you do, never, never, never combine an ammonia-containing product with a chlorine-containing one! It will release
highly dangerous gases called chloramines, which are extremely potent respiratory irritants and can cause significant problems for both pets and people.

Choose Household Cleaning Products That Are Safer For Your Pets

Fortunately these days there are lots of household cleaners that have fewer chemicals, clean just as effectively, and are safer for your pets. Here are a few brands to consider:

You can even make DIY pet-safe household cleaners with ingredients like distilled white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide.

If you believe your pet has ingested or inhaled harmful toxins, contact your veterinarian right away. Keep these Pet Poison Control resources handy as well — hopefully you will never need them, but in the event you do, you’ll be glad you’ve got them!

Happy cleaning! Or should I say “good luck” cleaning? Either way, now I’m going to go eat some Oreos :-)


Topics: pet safety

Please do not ask emergency or other specific medical questions about your pets in the blog comments. As an online informational resource, Preventive Vet is unable to and does not provide specific medical advice or counseling. A thorough physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinary-patient-client relationship is required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet is having an emergency or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic medical conditions, please contact or visit your veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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