A Message from the Vet - October 2011
Household Hazards

And you thought toddler-proofing your house was bad. Our homes are also full of everyday items that can be harmful to our four-footed, feathered, or scaled friends! This is just a brief overview of a few of the most common hazards you may find lying around your home. Help protect your pet by being aware of these risks and minimizing your pet's exposure to them!

In the kitchen.

The following foods can be harmful or even deadly to your pets: coffee grounds, chocolate, dough containing yeast, macadamia nuts, fatty foods, avocado, grapes, raisins, onions, tea, alcohol, salt, garlic, and any candy or gum containing xylitol (artificial sweetener). Garbage can also be fatally tempting, containing objects that can obstruct intestines or rotting food that can cause food poisoning. Beware of over-heating Teflon-coated pans, as this may release chemicals toxic to most animals and deadly to birds.

In the cabinets.

Household cleaners and pesticides can also be deadly to your pets. If the label warns to keep pets away during use, make sure they are not exposed to any spray or fumes and keep the area well-ventilated. Products such as bleach or those containing phenols can cause stomach upset, drooling, severe burns, or respiratory irritation. Because rodenticides are as life-threatening to your pets as to the rodents you are trying to get rid of, we do not recommend their use. If you do choose to use rodenticides, place them in areas completely inaccessible to your pets, though rodents have been known to drag the bait into other pet areas. Make sure to store all cleaning products and pesticides in a secure cabinet out of reach of nosy pets.

In the bathroom.

Human medications can be extremely harmful to pets. Keep your medication secure in a drawer or cabinet out of reach of pets. Dogs can easily chew right through plastic pill vials, so don't depend on child-proof lids to protect your medicine. Over-the-counter medications that can be harmful to pets include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen; cold and flu medication; diet pills; vitamins; antihistamines; and antidepressants.

In the bedroom and living room.

Potpourri may cause oral ulcerations or upset your pet's stomach. Even one mothball can be deadly, particularly those containing naphthalene. Tobacco products can sicken animals; they are also susceptible to second-hand smoke! Pennies and other metals containing lead or zinc can also sicken pets (don't throw these into fish ponds either as they also sicken fish!). Batteries contain poisonous chemicals so keep them out of reach of pets and take them to a recycling facility when they are pau. Any small (and some not-so-small!) objects that are within your pet's reach are in danger of consumption and potential intestinal blockage; keep your floors and counters clear! From rabbits to puppies, chewing on electrical cords can result in burns or electrocution, so prevent access to this with furniture or using suitable cord covers.

In the garage.
Even a small amount of antifreeze and coolant containing ethylene glycol can cause kidney failure and death in dogs and cats. Other chemicals commonly stored in the garage that are harmful if ingested are insecticides, fertilizers, weed killers, gasoline, and paint. If you treat your yard with chemicals, make sure to keep your pet away from treated areas for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer. Pets may pick up the chemicals on their feet and absorb them through their skin or by licking their paws later, causing stomach upset or other more serious problems.

In the planter.
Many household and yard plants can make pets sick. The following plants are commonly known to cause illness and are not advised to keep around your pets:
- lilies (especially toxic to cats)
- oleander, yew, foxglove, kalanchoe (toxic to the heart)
- sago palms (intestinal, liver, and neurological problems)
- azaleas, rhododendrons, tulip and narcissus bulbs (intestinal, heart, neurological problems)
- castor bean (intestinal and neurological problems)
- hibiscus, chrysanthemums, ivy, philodendron (intestinal upset)
- rhubarb leaves, shamrock (kidney failure)
- fungi (liver problems)

Holiday hazards.
Both holidays and visitors to your house can bring new hazards into your home. Warn your guests that feeding your pet scraps from the dinner table can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or pancreatic inflammation, which can be life-threatening. Bones can splinter and damage intestinal tissue or cause intestinal obstruction. Candy containing chocolate or sweetened with xylitol can be deadly. Tinsel, ribbon, and ornaments can also pose hazards if eaten. Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and fertilized Christmas tree water may all cause intestinal upset.

Jill Yoshicedo, DVM
Information provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association (www.avma.org)


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Last updated 2014 May 10.