Home is our haven to relax with family and four-legged friends. Unfortunately, mischievous pets can poke their nose or paws into places they don’t belong, resulting in an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital. Becoming aware of hidden dangers to your pet is the first step in pet-proofing your home. The Millbrae Pet Hospital team looks at four main home areas, with suggestions that will make them safer for your pet.
#1: The kitchen and your pet
The kitchen is where the action is, but can pose temptations for a food-motivated pet. Your trash is first place your pet may look for snacks, so keep it tightly covered or behind a secured door to avoid ingestion of bones that can cause intestinal obstruction, or fatty scraps that can cause pancreatitis. Place food items or sharp objects out of reach of counter-surfing dogs, and try placing strips of tin foil on your counters or stove to deter exploring cats. Keep laundry and cleaning products out of paws’ reach, and check your dryer before use to ensure a small pet has not crawled inside.
Avoid giving your pet the following toxic foods:
- Grapes or raisins — May cause acute kidney failure
- Onions, garlic, and chives — Can cause anemia
- Xylitol — Can lead to a dangerous drop in your pet’s blood sugar level
- Chocolate — Can cause vomiting, tremors, seizures, and changes in heart rhythm
- Alcohol — Can cause drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature
- Yeasty bread dough — Can result in painful intestinal gas, bloating, and alcohol toxicity
#2: The bathroom and your pet
Curious pets may decide to investigate your bathroom and find interesting, but toxic, items. Keep your trash tightly covered, or in a safe place, to prevent ingestion of personal items. Read the labels on your personal products to ensure they are pet-safe. Toothpaste may contain xylitol, and zinc-containing sunscreen or diaper cream are dangerous for your pet. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports the top pet toxicity is accidental or intentional consumption of human medications, so storing these products securely in a cabinet or closet is essential.
Keep the following toxic human medications away from your pet:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) — Human NSAIDs can cause stomach ulceration or kidney failure, but pet-designed prescription NSAIDs are available, and a safer alternative for your pet’s pain.
- Acetaminophen — These medications have a narrow margin of safety for dogs, but are toxic to cats.
- Antidepressants — Antidepressant medications can lead to neurological signs, such as tremors or seizures.
- Cardiac medications — Heart medications can cause dangerous drops in your pet’s blood pressure, or lead to kidney damage.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications — ADHD medications can increase your pet’s blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate.
#3: The living room or bedroom and your pet
Look around your living living room and bedroom from your pet’s perspective. Is there anything hazardous that they can tip over or chew? Stow away electrical cords, and keep candles or fragile items out of paws’ reach. Most cats cannot resist dangling cords from blinds, which are a choking hazard and should be shortened. Small items, rubber bands, and string should be carefully picked up to prevent ingestion by your pet, and a potential intestinal obstruction.
Prevent your pet from ingesting or being exposed to the following toxic items:
- House plants in general — Many houseplants can cause gastrointestinal upset. Check out the ASPCA toxic and non-toxic plant list to ensure you do not have toxic plants in your home.
- Lilies — Every part of a lily is especially dangerous to cats—the plant, flower, pollen, or water can cause sudden kidney failure.
- Liquid potpourris and essential oils — These items can lead to respiratory problems or kidney damage in cats.
#4: Outdoor areas and your pet
If your pet goes outdoors, or accidentally scoots outside, ensure they are well-identified with a microchip and current nametag on their collar. Prevent your pet’s escape by securing any outdoor fences or gates. To keep your cat in your yard and other animals out, consider products like a coyote roller on your fencing. Garden, automobile, and home improvement products should be kept on high shelves, or locked away in cupboards to avoid accidental exposure or ingestion.
Beware of dangers to your pet from the following toxic outdoor products:
- Outdoor plants — Always check the ASPCA toxic and non-toxic plant list before adding outdoor plants.
- Fertilizers and herbicides — Check the labels with this fertilizer and herbicide list.
- Pesticides — These may cause local irritation or gastrointestinal signs in pets. Especially avoid those containing organophosphates or pyrethrins.
- Rodenticides or snail bait — Ingestion of any amount can be life-threatening to pets.
- Cocoa bean mulch — This causes the same toxicity signs as chocolate.
Now that you know about potential household hazards for your pet, take a safety tour through your home and find the areas that need pet-proofing. If you suspect your pet has ingested or been exposed to a toxin, don’t wait for illness signs—immediately contact the Millbrae Pet Hospital team. After business hours, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, Pet Poison Helpline, or a local emergency hospital.