Have you taken inventory of your medicine cabinets lately? Are you properly storing lawn and garden pesticide containers? When you tidy up around the house, do you put food, liquor and tobacco products safely out of harm’s way? These precautions are second nature to households with children, but homes with animals must be just as secure.
1. Research your plants
Do you know what plants are poisonous and what plants are not? The easiest way to keep your pet safe is to be aware of the plants you have in and around your home and yard. While some plants are harmless others, such as azalea, Easter lily, mistletoe or oleander, can be toxic and even fatal if ingested. If you are not sure if the plants you have in your home are safe you can visit the ASPCA Poison Control website (http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/) and search for specific plants.
2. Check out your cleaning products
Spring cleaning is an integral part of saying goodbye to winter and welcoming in the warmer weather. But some cleaning agents can be toxic and downright dangerous to your four-legged friends. Always keep cleaning products stored out of reach of prying paws and never allow your pet access to any areas where cleaning products have been used or are stored. While exposure to some cleaners may only cause mild upset stomach, others can cause severe burns to the tongue, mouth and gastrointestinal lining.
3. Keep bait out of reach
Sadly, every year many dogs and cats succumb to poisoning after ingesting rat, roach, ant, snail or slug bait. Rat bait, for example, works by interrupting an organism’s ability to clot causing widespread and rapid internal bleeding. Since most bait contains substances meant to attract their intended target (such as peanut butter or sugar) these products can also be very attractive to your pet. It is critical that these products not be left anywhere your pet can access. If you suspect your pet may have ingested rat/roach/ant/snail/slug bait call TO YOUR NEAREST VETERINARY OR EMERGENCY CLINIC IMMEDIATELY.
4. Don’t self medicate
Did you know that your bathroom could be the most dangerous room in your house? That’s because this is where most people store their prescription and over-the-counter medications. While some medications used in humans are also safely used in our feline and canine companions, there are many others that can be highly dangerous and even deadly when used inappropriately in pets. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-depressants, vitamins, diet pills and anti-cancer drugs are just some of the types of human medications that could be lethal if ingested by your pet. For example, Tylenol (acetaminophen) is very toxic and potentially deadly for cats and Advil (ibuprofen) is toxic and dangerous to dogs, with the potential to cause stomach ulcers and liver failure. The morale of the story?? NEVER give your pet ANY medications unless under the direction of your veterinarian.
5. Say no to chocolate
Most pet parents know that giving their dog or cat chocolate is a major no-no. Chocolate contains the alkaloid theobromine, which is highly toxic to our four-legged friends. Early symptoms of theobromine poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination. If not treated quickly these symptoms can rapidly progress and possibly become fatal if not treated. If you suspect your dog (or cat) may have eaten chocolate call you veterinarian immediately. And this Easter, ensure that the Easter Eggs are out of reach from your pets!
6. Common doesn’t always mean safe
In addition to the obvious household poisons, there are a multitude of common household items that have been shown to be toxic to our pets. These include:
* pennies (which contain a high concentration of zinc)
* mothballs (contains naphthaleneor paradichlorobenzene which is highly toxic)
* fabric softener sheets
* automatic dish detergents (contain cationic detergents which can cause corrosive lesions)
* batteries (contains acids or alkali which can cause corrosive lesions)
* homemade playdough (contains high quantity of salt)
* coffee grounds
* alcoholic beverages
* grapes/raisins (the mechanism of toxicity is not understood but ingestion can cause kidney failure)
* onions (causes a condition known as hemolytic anemia)
* garbage gut (toxins produced by bacteria fermenting in the garbage can cause rapid and severe signs of toxicity include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, painful abdominal distention, shivering, shock, and collapse).
7. Keep your garage safe
We’ve all heard the horror stories about pets being intentionally or unintentionally harmed by antifreeze poisoning. The truth is all automotive products, such as oil, gasoline and antifreeze, are highly toxic to dogs and cats and should always be stored in areas that are fully inaccessible to your pets.
8. Check with your vet before applying over-the-counter flea/tick products
Protecting your dog or cat from common seasonal parasites, such as ticks & fleas, can be an important part of good preventative pet care. Unfortunately, there are many products on the market that, when used incorrectly, can be highly dangerous to your pet. Always be sure to read and follow ALL label instructions. Products that are labeled “for use in dogs only” should NEVER be used on cats or other pets. Better yet – speak with your veterinarian before applying any type of flea or tick product to your pet. If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the manufacturer or your veterinarian to clarify the directions BEFORE you use it.
9. Stay off the lawn
While many provinces and cities have banned the use of toxic insecticides on lawns and gardens, many others have not. It is important to know that fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides may be highly toxic and may pose a serious health risk to your pet. The most sensible advice is to keep your pets away from any treated areas until the product has completely dried. And never store these products anywhere your pet can access.
With a little common sense you can keep your pet safe!