March is National Pet Poison Prevention Month, which is a reminder that your pet’s inquisitive nature can be a recipe for disaster as they explore all the surprisingly dangerous substances in your home, garage, and yard. Our team at Best Friends Veterinary Care is on a mission to help prevent common pet poisonings, by urging you to keep certain everyday products safely secured.
Hide common pet toxins inside your medicine cabinet
Various medications account for nearly 20% of accidental pet-toxin exposure cases. Never give your pets any medication without consulting with your veterinarian. Some common toxic medications include:
- Over-the-counter medications — Small amounts of anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen), cold medications, herbal supplements, vitamins, and ointments are toxic to pets, who metabolize and eliminate them differently from humans.
- Prescription medications — Child-proof lids do not necessarily mean pet-proof lids. ADHD, thyroid, blood pressure, heart, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant medications contain pet-toxic ingredients.
- Veterinary medications — Veterinary medications become unsafe when pets eat improper dosages, or take them without a prescription.
Hide common pet toxins inside your kitchen
Your kitchen and your trash cans are dangerous areas for your pet. Toxic foods made up nearly 13% of cases in 2020, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). Common pet-toxic foods include:
- Chocolate, coffee, and caffeine — Two chocolate ingredients, caffeine and theobromine, lead to serious effects, such as seizures or death. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous for your pet.
- Xylitol — A small amount of this artificial sweetener can cause decreased blood sugar, and lead to seizures, organ failure, and death. Look for xylitol in breath fresheners, toothpaste, and sugar-free foods and drinks.
- Grapes and raisins — Only a few of these fruits can cause kidney failure in some dogs.
- Onions, garlic, and chives — These vegetables and herbs place your pet at risk of red blood cell damage and anemia.
- Alcohol and raw yeast dough — Alcohol should never be given to your pet—the effects include intoxication, coma, or death. The yeast in raw bread dough can expand in your pet’s stomach, causing a gastrointestinal blockage, and also releasing alcohol.
- Salty snacks and nuts — These oily and fatty foods can cause pancreatitis and sodium poisoning in pets. Macadamia nuts, in particular, can lead to serious toxicity.
Hide common pet toxins inside your cleaning supplies closet
Remove your pet from the room whenever you use cleaning supplies, which amount to nearly 8% of the APCC’s cases. During your next spring cleaning, be cautious with these products:
- Bleach — When using this all-purpose cleaner, always follow label directions, and thoroughly rinse and air out the environment.
- Ammonia — This chemical, which is found in cleaning solutions for windows, stainless steel appliances, and flooring, can affect your pet with confusion or coma.
- Glycol ethers — This ingredient in soaps, carpet cleaners, glass cleaners, and some “natural” cleaning solutions may cause skin irritation, or organ and nerve damage, so wash your pet’s paws if they are exposed.
Hide common pet toxins inside your garage
If you have home improvement or garden projects in mind, be careful about exposing your pet to potential toxins around your home, such as:
- Antifreeze —This chemical contains ethylene glycol and causes brain damage, organ failure, and sudden death, if your pet goes untreated.
- Fertilizer — Organic fertilizers and other lawn chemicals may be attractive to pets because of their animal-based ingredients, but they contain toxic chemical ingredients that may lead to gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and respiratory effects.
- Insecticides and pesticides — Particular chemicals, such as those found in rodenticides, can be life-threatening to pets, if ingested.
- Toxic plants — Grow familiar with the APCC toxic and non-toxic plant list to ensure your pet is safe around your plants. Only small amounts of pet-toxic plants, particularly lilies, can cause rapid kidney failure.
- Home improvement products — Remove your pet when you are involved with improvement projects that involve paints, spackles, or adhesives, which can put them at risk of chemical injuries.
Other common pet toxins found in bags and purses
We know keeping your pet out of your open purse or bag is almost impossible, but be aware of potential dangers that must be kept from your pet’s reach, including:
- Nicotine — If your pet ingests tobacco products (i.e., cigarettes, e-liquids, and nicotine patches), they may experience elevated heart rate or respiratory failure. The concentrations in e-liquids can easily lead to a pet’s death, so keep appealing flavors far from reach.
- Essential oils — Some pets are highly sensitive to inhalation of these oils, which can cause aspiration pneumonia and central nervous system depression. Consult your veterinarian before any significant use of specific oils.
Toxicity signs may not become obvious until 30 minutes to two hours after exposure, but you must act quickly. In the event of a toxicity emergency, a veterinary professional may instruct you to induce vomiting, flush the affected area, or transport your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital, where decontamination, hospitalization, and various medications may be administered.
If you believe your pet has been exposed to a potential toxin, don’t delay—immediately contact our Best Friends Veterinary Care team, or the expert team of veterinary toxicologists at ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) or Pet Poison Helpline. Protect your pet by keeping all common toxins out of paws’ reach, and never hesitate to reach out to our team.