I had a dog once that ate half a bag of coffee grounds and miraculously survived. Don't let your dog get into that!  Caffeine can cause serious problems for pets, along with chocolate, meds, and a few surprise items around the house.

If you've got a dog, I'm sure you've experienced some messes after catching him digging in the trash or opening a package that you forgot to move higher than his level.  Me too.  In addition to the dog that ate the coffee grounds, I had one that pulled an entire Oreo cheesecake off of the kitchen counter once and ate every bit of it along with shards of broken glass from the plate that it had been sitting on.  He inhaled the whole mess, and how it did not kill him I will never know.  Oh, and just last week my mini Schnauzer, Benny, ate the basil and sweet banana pepper plants that I had just put into containers the day before.  Those plants aren't poisonous to pets, but it was a pain nonetheless.  There are many around the house that we need to watch out for.

Good Housekeeping came up with the top things around the house that are toxic to pets, and there are a few surprises.

Common Things That Are Toxic to Pets

1.  Meds.  Sleep aids, ibuprofen, and other over-the-counter meds are probably out of your dog's reach, but if your dog is like mine and becomes a mini vacuum anytime something hits the floor, he can easily suck up a pill when we drop one.  And then we have bigger issues than that headache that required the meds in the first place.

2.  Food.  We might not think common things like grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic are toxic to pets, but they are.  And the sweetener xylitol that's found in candy, gum, toothpaste, and some desserts can poison the dog.  Don't drop the meds or the grapes.

3.  Chocolate.  We've heard this before, and the level of toxicity depends on how big the dog is and how much he gets into.  Good Housekeeping says, "for a 20-pound dog, it would take 16 ounces of milk chocolate, 9 ounces of dark chocolate, or only 1.5 ounces of baking chocolate to cause seizures."  Apparently, Oreos don't have enough cocoa in them to hurt a dog but don't let him get into a bag of dark baking chocolate.  That would be bad.

4.  Bait.  Poisons that are meant to attract rodents can also attract pets, and when dogs take the bait that was intended for mice, it can send us straight to the doggie ER.  Exterminators usually hide the bait in secure black boxes with openings that are right for rodents and not pets, but there are other times when the bait may be in clear view.  Same with ant traps and other insecticides.  If it can kill an insect, it can give a dog a tummy ache, or worse.

5.  Plants.  My dog survived the encounter with basil and banana peppers, but there are other plants that can easily kill a dog.  The sago palm houseplant has toxic leaves and a toxic trunk, and the seeds can cause liver failure in dogs. Petmd says the Autumn Crocus, Azalea, Daffodil, Dieffenbachia, Tulip, and Oleander plants are all toxic too and can cause vomiting, tremors, liver failure, heart issues, blood pressure drops, and comas.  The dogs have no idea what they're getting into, so we've got to keep the encounters from happening.

6.  Caffeine.  If your dog laps up a drink or two of coffee, tea or soda, the experts say that most likely won't have enough caffeine in it to cause poisoning, but if he gets into "moderate amounts" of coffee grounds or tea bags that can easily kill a small dog or cat.  It's amazing that my dog survived eating half a bag of coffee grounds.  He did vomit and he had major jitters, but he recovered.  That doesn't always happen.

Jen Austin - Townsquare Media, Courtesy of Roni Seely

I would be so upset with myself if something dumb and preventable killed one of my dogs, so I wanted to dig up the scoop and pass it along.  Now back to the treats!  Those are harmless enough.