Pet poisoning may not be on the minds of many pet owners, but it occurs more commonly than you may think. As the weather turns warmer, and you spend more time in the gardens and start spring cleaning, consider the items around your home and outdoors that could be dangerous to your pets.
There are some obvious items that can pose a danger to your pets, such as cleaning supplies, rat poison, and antifreeze, but others can be harmful as well. Take some time this weekend to “pet proof” your home, garden, shed, and garage to ensure that there are no hazards for your pets.
Batteries. Button batteries are found in so many electronics that it is easy for a pet to accidentally chew on, or swallow, one or more of these types of batteries. They are found in toys, remote controls, watches, hearing aids, digital thermometers – the list goes on. If the battery is chewed and punctured, the compounds in the batteries can cause chemical burns to the mouth, throat, and stomach.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can be lethal to pets, even in small amounts. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil or Motrin), prescription ADD/ADHD medications, and human antidepressants all make “the top ten” of pet poisonings. They have different effects on dogs and cats, but all of them are serious and can lead to death. It is important to keep these medications in closed containers, and out of reach of curious pets.
Chocolate. Even though many people know that chocolate is not good for dogs, it still leads the way as one of the top dog poisons. Chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs, cats, and birds. Even a small amount (1 oz) of dark chocolate can cause toxic effects in a cat or small to mid-sized dog. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Small amounts of chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea, while a pet that consumes large amounts may experience seizures or even heart failure.
Sweets, treats, gum, and candies. Xylitol is frequently used as a sweetener in many sugar-free candies, gum, and baked goods. Xylitol is safe for human consumption (and is not known to be toxic to cats), but is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and possibly death.
Rat and mouse poison. Rats and mice are unwelcome guests in your home, garage, and shed. But the use of these products can lead to poisoning in your pets. Poisoning occurs when the products are used without protective bait stations, allowing access by animals such as cats and dogs. Each type of poison works in a different way, so it is very important that you can tell your veterinarian which active ingredient is in the poison that you use – this allows for the correct treatment.
Plants. Many common houseplants are toxic to cats, dogs, and birds. Lilies are extremely toxic to cats – even the water in the pot’s saucer is toxic! Do your research before bringing plants into your home or garden – if in doubt, don’t buy it, or keep it in a part of your home or garden that your pets don’t access.
Onions, garlic, grapes, and raisins. Certain foods are poisonous to cats and dogs. Grapes, raisins, and currants are poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of grapes or raisins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly acute kidney failure. Any plant belonging to the onion family (onions, chives, leeks, garlic) are poisonous to both cats and dogs. Signs of onion and garlic poisoning include nausea, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and collapse.
Pet poisonings are avoidable. Follow these recommendations to keep your furry friends safe from harm:
- Be sure to keep spare or “dead” batteries out of reach. Be sure that toys, remote controls, watches, and any other items containing button batteries are kept on shelves where curious pets cannot access them.
- Store medications in cabinets or cupboards where your pets can’t reach them – remember that many curious cats can open drawers and cupboards.
- Never leave sweets, chocolate, candies, or gum out where your pets could access them. Remember to keep your purse, backpack, or laptop bag closed or in a closet if you keep candies or gum in them.
- Be sure to use protective bait stations when using rat/mouse poison, and place them in areas that are inaccessible to your pets.
- Keep plants – especially lilies – out of reach of your cat, or keep them out of your home completely.
- Keep in mind that certain foods are toxic to dogs and cats – be aware of the foods you should avoid feeding to your pets as treats.