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5 Common Cleaning Chemicals That Are Toxic to Dogs - By Richard Cross

Remy Bibaud | 18 February, 2020

            Picture Courtesy ASPCA - Poisonous Products and Dogs

Thinking about warmer weather? Spring cleaning is no doubt part of your plans! Take a moment to review five common chemicals that could be toxic to your beloved fur family! PetPerennials.com is pleased to welcome Richard Cross as Guest Blogger this month!

Richard is a dog expert who is currently living in the UK. He's head editor of The Dog Clinic- a website dedicated to promoting positive reinforcement training and a deeper understanding of canine behaviour.

5 Common Cleaning Chemicals That Are Toxic to Dogs

Keeping your dog safe from common dangers is a job in itself, especially when you consider the various risks that everyday household cleaning products present. 

Tons of common chemicals can be harmful to your pet. When you’re shopping for cleaning products, be sure to check the labels for any of the substances below.


Ammonia is perhaps the most popular cleaning chemical in the world, and you'll find it in lots of everyday cleaning products, including glass cleaner, stainless steel cleaner and oven cleaner.

This chemical can cause damage to the eyes and skin when it’s inhaled. If ingested by your pet, it can also cause severe intestinal distress. Because ammonia is so common and pervasive, it’s perhaps the most crucial chemical to watch out for if you have pets in your home. 

Ammonia is a colorless gas with a strong and pungent odor that’s often compared to cat urine. While ammonia occurs naturally in the world, and exposure to low levels of ammonia is quite common, exposure to higher levels of ammonia can be dangerous for you as well as your pet. 

When you’re shopping, look for the ingredient ammonium hydroxide, which is the most popular kind of ammonia used in household cleaning products. You must check the ingredients list even if the product markets itself as “all-natural” or “green.” Since ammonia is an entirely natural chemical, it’s still present in many “green” cleaning products. 

You’ll find ammonia in:
  • Glass cleaner
  • Appliance cleaner
  • Oven cleaner
  • Fertilizer
  • Green cleaners

Glycol Ethers

Glycol ethers are one of the most pervasive ingredients in the world, and you'll find them in a variety of household cleaning products, such as glass cleaner, carpet cleaner, spot remover, and more. Glycol ethers are also a common ingredient in liquid soaps and cosmetics, so you’ll want to pay attention to the ingredients in those products as well. 

Glycol ethers have several dangerous implications in humans as well as pets. Exposure to these chemicals can result in nerve, liver, and digestive system damage. Animal studies have also revealed that glycol ethers can lead to reproductive and developmental deficiencies for your beloved pet. 

Like ammonia, you'll find glycol ethers in so-called “green” cleaning products, so you’ll need to pay close attention to the ingredients label on any cleaner before using it in your home. 

You’ll find glycol ethers in:

  • Green cleaners
  • Glass cleaner
  • Carpet and upholstery cleaner
  • Spot remover
  • Liquid soap
  • Cosmetics


Most people recognize formaldehyde as an embalming agent, but you may be surprised to learn that it’s also one of the most common ingredients in household cleaners. Perhaps even more frightening is the fact that formaldehyde is a popular textile and upholstery treatment, and it may be in your carpets, rugs, and furniture. 

Thankfully, fewer manufacturers are treating their products with formaldehyde, and those who still are must pass stringent regulations for consumer safety. It’s still found in some cleaning products though.

Formaldehyde is commonly found in general-purpose cleaners and liquid soaps, but it can also be found in things like plug-in fragrances, paper towels, and even pet shampoo. The National Cancer Institute recognizes formaldehyde as a carcinogen, and it can also depress a dog’s respiratory system and nerve response. Formaldehyde is also a skin and eye irritant.

You’ll find formaldehyde in: 

  • General purpose cleaners
  • Furniture and upholstery
  • Rugs and carpet

Note: If you’re worried about the safety of your pet’s shampoo,take a look at The Dog Clinic’s full guide. This article lists a range of chemicals that should be avoided, including formaldehyde, parabens, and artificial dyes.


Chlorine is one of the most common household cleaning products on this list, as it’s used to make bleach. You’ll find chlorine in tons of everyday products, including household cleaners, laundry detergent, and stain removers. Bleach is one of the most effective cleaners in the world, but it’s also one of the most toxic. 

Chlorineis most dangerous if it’s swallowed. Depending on the amount of the chemical your dog has ingested, symptoms can include burning eyes, nose, throat, and mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. If you suspect your pet has ingested bleach, you should immediately contact the poison control center. 

This chemical is especially concerning because its molecules are heavier than air, which means that when it’s in the atmosphere, it sinks to the floor where your pets are breathing. Chlorine can irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs, and it can also lead to respiratory complications such as pneumonia. 

Chlorine is also a popular pool chemical, and it helps keep the pool water safe for swimming and crystal clear. Pool chlorine isn’t necessarily good for humans or animals, but exposure while swimming shouldn’t have any implications for your pet’s health. It’s a good idea to spray your pup down with the hose after they’ve been in the pool so you can remove any chlorine residue.

You'll find chlorine in:

  • Bleach
  • All-purpose cleaners
  • Laundry detergent
  • Stain remover
  • Pool chemicals


Phthalates are another dangerous chemical, but they can be difficult to spot on an ingredients list. In many cases, the fragrance in a household or personal product contains phthalates, which may be carcinogenic. 

You may find phthalates in laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaners, shampoo, and conditioners. Phthalates can also be found in some dog toys, and exposure over time can be toxic for your dog. There is also mounting evidence that phthalate exposure can lead to cancer for both humans and dogs, so it’s best to stick with phthalate-free products.

You’ll find phthalates in: 

  • Artificial fragrances
  • Laundry detergent
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • All-purpose cleaners
  • Vinyl and plastics

Final Word 

Keeping your pet safe from harm requires a watchful eye, especially when so many common household cleaners can be toxic for your pets.

Since these chemicals have many everyday uses, it’s not always possible to eliminate them from your routine. If you must use them, make sure your dog is in a different room and keep the windows open. You should also ensure all cleaning substances are thoroughly wiped away before allowing your pet back into the room, and bottles are safely locked in a dog-proof cupboard.

Thankfully, there are many pet-friendly options on the market, so you should have no trouble finding effective products that are also gentle for your loved ones. 


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