You probably already know that chocolate is off-limits and there are plenty of other potentially hazardous foods that have to stay out of your dog or cat’s reach. However, pet-proofing the pantry isn’t the only way to keep your four-legged pal safe. Many common household items can pose a threat to your pet also.
Just like you’d store them out of harm’s way for a baby, be sure your pet can’t get a hold of them either. And to be safe, have your vet’s emergency number and the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) and website information handy.
Here’s a quick but thorough look at some items you likely have at home.
This extremely sweet-tasting odorless liquid is most commonly found in antifreeze products, but it can also lurk in less dangerous levels in hydraulic brake fluid, paints and also in solvents, wood stains, inks and printer cartridges.
Dogs and cats are very attracted to its taste and only a small amount, especially in antifreeze, is very dangerous. According to VCA Hospitals, as little as half a teaspoon per pound of a dog’s weight can actually be fatal. The Humane Society of the United States states one teaspoon can be fatal to a 7-pound cat.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are medications used for people and sometimes pets to help control pain and also inflammation. Pet-specific drugs (for example, carprofen, deracoxib and meloxicam) may be less toxic to dogs and cats than human NSAIDs, but are still dangerous in larger-than-prescribed doses. Drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be incredibly toxic to pets, leading to severe gastric ulcers and acute kidney failure, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. You should never give any of these medications to your pet without talking to your vet.
NSAIDs aren’t the only human drugs that can prove to be harmful to animals. Antibiotics and antidepressants, cough medicines, steroids and other various medicines can be dangerous, too. If it’s in your medicine cabinet, you should keep it out of your dog or cat’s reach.
Coins and metal
Some pets, especially dogs,have a bad habit of picking up anything off the floor including coins and metal pieces, such as nuts, bolts and other pieces of hardware. While some pieces might be ingested and safely passed through, there are some coins and hardware pieces contain large amounts of zinc, which can result in zinc poisoning. When the item enters the stomach, the zinc breaks down, which will upset your pet’s stomach and allowing the zinc to be absorbed into the bloodstream. That can actually lead to liver damage, kidney failure and heart failure.
Even some topical ointments, such as diaper rash creams, contain zinc, so be sure to check the labels and store anything questionable out of reach. If you think your pet has swallowed a coin or metal object, call your vet for an X-ray.
This sugar-free sweetener can be found in some gum, mints, toothpaste, oral rinses, chewable vitamins, and even some foods, such as peanut butter. It’s key to check the ingredient label and keep products completely out of your pet’s reach. The amount of xylitol will vary by product type and brand. How much your dog or cat ingests and your pet’s size will determine how toxic the effect can be. According to the helpline, a large ingestion may actually result in liver failure, while even a small amount can cause life-threatening low blood sugar within 10 to 15 minutes.
Insect and rodent poison
The bait or spray put down to kill bugs or various rodents can seriously hurt your pet. Mice and rat poisons are just one of the most common causes of animal toxicities managed by the Pet Poison Helpline. Even if you don’t have them in your house, your dog could very well find them in parks or wildlife areas. Dogs and cats can also have secondary poisoning if they eat (or gnaw on) a rodent that died in a trap. Because there are so many ingredients that can and will affect animals in different ways, it’s important to tell your vet exactly what was on the label if you know what your pet ingested.
Glow sticks and glow jewelry
If your kids like those glowing bracelets or glow sticks, especially around Halloween and other holidays, be absolutely sure they keep them away from your dog. They have an oily, bitter-tasting liquid called dibutyl phthalate (DBP) which can have unpleasant consequences if your dog gets a hold of it. The chemical isn’t incredibly toxic, however, it can make your pet drool, gag and vomit, and it can irritate his skin and eyes, making them burn.
Just like you’d keep detergent and household cleaners out of reach of children, be sure your four-legged kids can’t get to them either. Detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets can actually cause ulcers. Cleaners like products with bleach or ammonia, drain cleaners and toilet bowl cleansers can cause ulcers and other serious problems.
If your dog or cat manages to swallows a battery, the alkaline or acidic material inside can leak, causing serious injury. Especially dangerous are button batteries, however, other common batteries also can cause a lot of harm. Call your vet or the poison helpline at once and don’t induce vomiting. Flush your pet’s mouth as gently as you can with tepid water to wash away corrosive liquid. Your vet will perform an X-ray and will have to remove the battery via surgery or endoscopy.