Household dangers for pets – what should you do and what shouldn’t to keep them safe
Every home has a variety of everyday items that can be dangerous or even fatal if ingested by dogs and cats. Rodent poisons and insecticides are the most common sources of companion animal poisoning however you can protect your pet’s health and safety by becoming aware of the most common health hazards found around the home in many pet-owning households.
Human foods to keep away from pets include candies, chocolates, onions, salt, alcoholic beverages, raw yeast dough, coffee grounds and beans, tea and tea leaves, macadamia nuts, tomato, potato and rhubarb leaves and stems, avocados (toxic to birds, mice, rabbits, horses, cattle and dairy goats), grapes and raisin, and chewing gum.
Poisonous household plants, including azalea, oleander, foxglove, dieffenbachia (dumb cane), kalanchoe, lilies, mistletoe, sago palm, hydrangea, philodendron, flower bulbs – just a few to mention. It is advisable to inquire about a plant before buying it.
Soaps, toothpaste and sunscreen should also be kept away from your pets. They can cause stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea. Keep toilet lids closed to prevent your pets from consuming treated toilet bowl water that could irritate the indigestive tract.
Human medications, such as pain killers (including aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen), cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, anti-depressants, vitamins and diet pills can all be toxic to animals. Always keep medicine and tubes of ointments and creams away from pets.
Many small items can lead to choking – even things you would never expect your pet would attempt eating. Small parts of toys, string, yarn, buttons, small batteries, rubber bands, hair pins, cotton swabs and even dental floss are easy to swallow and can cause intestinal blockages or strangulation.
Holiday decorations, lights, fireworks, tinsels, cables, candles etc. pose a risk to cats and dogs. Keep these items out of the reach of animals, and, if possible, leave your pet in an undecorated place while you are out.
Many household cleaners can be used safely around pets. However, the key is to read and follow product directions for proper use and storage. However products containing bleach is often used to disinfect household surfaces, but can cause stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea.
Store all cleaning products in a closed, secure cabinet out of the reach of pets and keep them in the original packaging.
Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol has a sweet taste which attracts animals but is fatal if consumed in even small quantities; one teaspoon can kill a seven-pound cat.
Look for antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is unharmful for animals if ingested a small quantity.
Chemicals, weedkillers used on lawns and gardens, fertilizer and plant food, can be easily accessible and fatal to any pet in the yard.
If all of your precautions fail, and you believe that your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary service immediately. Symptoms of poisoning include moodiness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle tremors, lack of coordination and fever. You should take the product packaging or plant sample with you to help in the identification so the appropriate treatment recommendations can be made.
This article is only intended as a guide it is not a substitute for a consultation with a vet. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment.