Our pets are curious creatures. It’s easy for them to get into things they shouldn’t and to eat things they shouldn’t. As a responsible pet owner, it’s your job to make sure your pets can’t reach any items or substances that could harm them. Many household items cause potential danger to our pets. To protect your pets, use common sense and take the same precautions you would with a child. Here are some tips from The Humane Society of the United States’s website to protect your pets from common household hazards:
Dangers outside your door
- Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is a deadly substance if it consumed, but it has a sweet smell and taste. It’s dangerous even in small quantities. In fact, one teaspoon is enough to kill a seven pound cat. The HSUS recommends pet owners use a safe antifreeze in their vehicles. Look for antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is safe for animals if ingested in small amounts. Beware, you can also find ethylene glycol in common items like snow globes. Keep these things out of your pets’ reach.
- Cocoa mulch contains ingredients that can be deadly to pets if ingested. This mulch is often sold in garden supply stores and is often found in flower beds during the spring. It has a sweet scent that may attract some animals.
- Chemicals used on lawns and gardens, such as fertilizer and plant food, can be fatal to pets. Don’t let your pets roam the yard unsupervised.
- While it’s not something we have to deal with a lot in the south, de-icing salts can be poisonous to pets. These salts are used to melt snow and ice of roadways and bridges. They are paw irritants that can be poisonous when they are licked off. Wash and dry your pet’s paws as soon as the animal comes in from the snow.
- Cans and garbage can pose a danger to cats or smaller dogs. Animals may attempt to lick food from a disposed can and can get their head caught inside the can. Be sure your pets cant get stuck in a can by squeezing the open end of the can closed before throwing it away.
- Beware traps and poisons. Pest control companies often use glue traps, live traps and poisons to kill rodents. Even if you would never use such methods to stop rodents, your neighbor might. Dogs and cats can be poisoned if they eat a rodent who has been killed by poison. This is called secondary poisoning.
Threats inside the house
- Insect control products may be toxic to companion animals. These include insecticides used in many over-the-counter flea and tick remedies. Be wary of flea and tick control products you buy in grocery stores. Often prescription flea and tick control products are safer and more effective. Always consult a veterinarian before using any product.
- Many human medications are toxic to animals. Medicine containers and tubes of ointments and creams may be child proof, but they’re not necessarily pet proof. Keep them away from pets who could chew through them. If you drop a pill, be vigilant about finding and disposing of it. Don’t let your pets have human pain killers (including aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen), cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins or diet pills.
- Some common household plants, including azalea, dieffenbachia (dumb cane), lilies, mistletoe and philodendron are poisonous to animals. See a full list of poisonous plants »
- String, yarn, rubber bands and even dental floss are easy to swallow. Your pet may require surgery if they cause cause intestinal blockages or strangulation.
- Toys with movable parts can pose a choking hazard to animals. Think of squeaky toys or stuffed animals with plastic eyes. Anything with parts that can easily come off is something your pets don’t need. Take the same precautions with pets as you would with a small child.
- Rawhide dog chews could be contaminated with Salmonella. This kind of treat should be offered to a pet only with supervision. They can also pose a choking hazard.
- The holidays are fun, but holiday decorations and lights can pose a risk for pets. Keep these items out of the reach of animals. Don’t leave your pets unattended with holiday decorations. If possible, confine your pet to an undecorated area while you are out of the home.
- Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, cats and ferrets.
- Leftovers, such as chicken bones, are deceptive. We thing we’re doing our pets a favor, but chicken bones can shatter and choke a cat or dog. Human foods to keep away from pets include onions and onion powder; alcoholic beverages; yeast dough; coffee grounds and beans; salt; macadamia nuts; tomato, potato and rhubarb leaves and stems; avocados (toxic to birds, mice, rabbits, horses, cattle and dairy goats); grapes; and anything with mold growing on it.
Tools for keeping your pet safe
The HSUS recommends that pet owners use all household products with caution. They also recommend that you put together a pet first aid kit (for dogs and cats) and have a manual readily available.
If your pet becomes poisoned, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary service immediately. Signs of poisoning include listlessness, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, lack of coordination and fever.
Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-426-4435 for a fee of $65 per case. If you call the hotline, be prepared to provide the name of the poison your animal was exposed to; the amount and how long ago; the species, breed, age, sex and weight of your pet; and the symptoms your pet is displaying. You’ll also be asked to provide your name, address, phone number and credit card information.