According to the National Safety Council, thousands of lives have been saved due to physical barriers like child-resistant packaging and awareness campaigns. Likewise, in recent years, the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about protecting our vulnerable and unknowing pets from common household items that are highly poisonous to them.
Fifty percent of calls to poison helplines are for pets that have been accidentally poisoned by something that is safe for humans, but toxic to pets. It only takes a few minutes to educate yourself on how to avoid these situations. Appropriate pet-proofing and awareness of what to do in the event of a pet poisoning situation may spare you and your pet trips to the veterinarian for expensive treatments, or the heartache of losing your pet.
Over the coming days, Page Animal Hospital will provide information on how to keep your pets safe from common household items. Ensuring that your pet doesn’t ingest them will be well worth the time and effort needed to keep them a safe distance away.
HUMAN FOODS THAT ARE TOXIC TO PETS
Dogs can be opportunists when it comes to getting their paws on tasty treats, but not all everyday food and drink are safe if they come into contact with them. Learn which human food items are particularly dangerous to your dog.
Avocados are another poisonous food for dogs. Avocado plants contain a substance called Persin which is in its leaves, fruit and seed and can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.
Alcohol has a significant impact on dogs, even in small doses. The drink not only causes intoxication as it does in humans, but it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should your pet be given any alcohol.
CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, CAFFIENE
However enticing chocolate is for humans and dogs alike, chocolate is another poisonous food for dogs. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (dark chocolate has the highest content of this) which is toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure.
CORN ON THE COB
Corn on the cob could potentially be fatal if eaten by your dog. Although the corn is digested by dogs, the cob can cause a blockage in your dog’s intestine.
GRAPES AND RAISINS (Yes! BOTH grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs!)
While a favorite and healthy snack for people, grapes, raisins and currants can cause kidney failure in dogs. Raisins can commonly be found in combination with other foods, potentially increasing the risk of exposure as compared with grapes and currants.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten any of these fruits, contact your veterinarian, Pet Poison Helpline or an animal poison control service immediately.
Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 24 to 48 hours.
MILK AND DAIRY
Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.
ONIONS, GARLIC, CHIVES
These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage and anemia. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk.
RAW/UNDERCOOKED MEAT, EGGS and BONES
Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be extremely dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.
SALT and SALTY SNACK FOODS
Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. As such, we encourage you to avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.
Our desire for sweet treats, chewing gum and drinks together with low-fat, diet and sugar-free products (including some peanut butter so always check the label before using this as a treat) are often laced with an artificial sweetener called Xylitol which causes an insulin release in our bodies. However, if your dog digests one of these sweetened foods they can go into hypoglycemia which is linked to liver failure and blood clotting disorders.
Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life-threatening emergency. The yeast produces ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk.
HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS HARMFUL TO PETS
Many of the common household items you use around your home may persistently be harming your pet. Even familiar household products we typically think of as safe can pose a risk to your pet.
A little planning for how you use and store a product will go a long way to prevent dangerous exposure for your dog or cat. It is always safest to keep your pet out of the room until you are finished using cleaning and other products in your home. Ensure all surfaces are dry, and the air is free from the product’s odor before allowing your pet back in. When in doubt, do not take a risk! Always err on the side of caution to keep your furry family members safe and healthy.
In case of exposure, your first call should be to the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888) 426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661. Both hotlines are available 24/7 for poison–related help specific to your pets. If your pet collapses, loses consciousness, has a seizure, or has difficulty breathing, that is an emergency — please take them directly to the nearest veterinary hospital for immediate evaluation.
Household Products That Can Be Poisonous to Your Pets
- Antifreeze, deicer
- Bleach or bleach-based cleaners
- Carpet or rug cleaner/shampoo/deodorizer
- Essential oils
- Plant fertilizer
- Glue, other adhesives
- Laundry or dishwasher detergent
- Fabric Softener Sheets
- Paint, solvents, spackle
- Rat/mouse/slug bait or other insecticides
- Vinegar (plain or mixed with water)
- Window cleaner
- Grout sealers
- Scented litter
- Swiffer Wet Jet
- Toilet Cleaning Tablets
- Phthalates — can be listed on the label simply as “fragrance.”
- Glycol Ethers (for example, ethylene glycol in antifreeze)
- Benzalkonium Chloride (most commonly found in household disinfectants)
Some of the ways pets may be exposed to toxins that can lead to poisoning:
- Ingestion – Licking, chewing on, or swallowing the wrong product can result in toxicity.
- Direct Contact – Absorption through their skin even if they have a thick haircoat. Additionally, if a pet gets something hazardous on their coat or paws and then licks it, they can ingest the poison.
- Inhalation – Dogs and cats are at risk of irritation or damage to their respiratory system (from their nose all the way down to their lungs) if exposed to things like certain chemicals, essentials oils and perfumes, paint, and gasoline fumes.
- Secondary Ingestion – For example, your pet eats a mouse or rat that has been poisoned by rodenticide and puts them at risk of being poisoned too.
A little extra planning can go a long way to keeping your pet safe
Keeping pets safe from common household products that might be poisonous, such as curious cats who open cabinets or dogs who can reach the countertop, keep even the most careful pet owner on their toes.
- Always Check the Product Label
- Natural Does Not Mean Safe
- Look for Pet-Safe Products
- Keep household products stored securely (Recommend child safety locks)
- Never leave your pet alone in the garage where many household toxins are stored.
- Do not store, spray, or use household cleaners, essential oils, or pesticides anywhere near your pet’s food and water bowls or areas where they spend a lot of time resting or sleeping.
- Avoid using odor removers and scented products around your pets. A product making broad claims about removing odors or is strongly fragranced frequently means the product contains potentially dangerous chemical components.
- When cleaning the carpet or using hard surface floor cleaners, do not let your pet walk on or sleep in the space until the surface is totally dry and there is no product odor left.
- Keep your pets indoors when fertilizing outside, keep your pets inside and follow label instructions regarding use around pets.
MEDICATIONS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR PETS
“Pet owners who are serious about pet-proofing their home should start with their own medicine cabinet. Nearly 50% of all calls received by Pet Poison Helpline involve human medications – both over-the-counter and prescription. Whether Fido accidentally chewed into a pill bottle or a well-intentioned pet owner accidentally switched medication (giving their pet a human medication), pet poisonings due to human medications are common and can be very serious.”
QUOTE from the Pet Poison Helpline ((855) 764-7661))
NEVER give any medication unless you have been directed to do so by your veterinarian. Many human safe medications can be deadly to your pets. Even a tiny amount of acetaminophen can be fatal to your cat or dog. NEVER let your pet lick or contact any part of your skin you have treated with medicated creams and ointments. Makeup and cosmetics can also make your pet sick.
All medicines should be tightly closed and stored securely and away from pets.
PARTIAL LIST OF MEDICATIONS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR PETS
(Credit: THE PET POISON HELPLINE ((855) 764-7661)https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/ )
1. NSAIDs (e.g., Advil, Aleve and Motrin)
While safe for humans, even one or two pills can cause serious harm to a pet. Dogs, cats, birds and other small mammals (ferrets, gerbils and hamsters) may develop serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure.
2. Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol)
Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) is certainly popular, considered very safe for both adults and children. HOWEVER, this is not true for pets—especially CATS! Just one regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in large doses, red blood cell damage.
3. Antidepressants (e.g., Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro)
While these antidepressant drugs are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors and seizures. Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Pets, especially cats, seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill. Unfortunately, just one pill can cause serious poisoning.
4. ADD/ADHD medications (e.g., Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin)
Medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder contain potent stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even minimal ingestions of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems.
5. Benzodiazepines and sleep aids (e.g., Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta)
These medications are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. However, in pets, they may have the opposite effect. About half of the dogs who ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedate. In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination (including walking “drunk”), and slowed breathing in pets. In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure when ingested.
6. Birth control (e.g., estrogen, estradiol, progesterone)
Birth control pills often come in packages that dogs find irresistible. Thankfully, small ingestions of these medications typically do not cause trouble. However, large ingestions of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone marrow suppression, particularly in birds. Additionally, female pets that are intact (not spayed), are at an increased risk of side effects from estrogen poisoning.
7. ACE Inhibitors (e.g., Zestril, Altace)
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (or “ACE”) inhibitors are commonly used to treat high blood pressure in people and, occasionally, pets. Though overdoses can cause low blood pressure, dizziness and weakness, this category of medication is typically quite safe. Pets ingesting small amounts of this medication can potentially be monitored at home, unless they have kidney failure or heart disease. All heart medications should be kept out of the reach of pets.
8. Beta-blockers (e.g., Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg)
Beta-blockers are also used to treat high blood pressure but, unlike the ACE inhibitor, small ingestions of these drugs may cause serious poisoning in pets. Overdoses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.
9. Thyroid hormones (e.g., Armour desiccated thyroid, Synthroid)
Pets — especially dogs — get underactive thyroids too. Interestingly, the dose of thyroid hormone needed to treat dogs is much higher than a person’s dose. Therefore, if dogs accidentally get into thyroid hormones at home, it rarely results in problems. However, large acute overdoses in cats and dogs can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, a rapid heart rate and aggression.
10. Cholesterol lowering agents (e.g., Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor)
These popular medications, often called “statins,” are commonly used in the United States. While pets do not typically get high cholesterol, they may still get into the pill bottle. Thankfully, most “statin” ingestions only cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. Serious side effects from these drugs come with long-term use, not one-time ingestions.
(Credit: Dr. Ahna Brutlag at Pet Poison Helpline)
Never leave loose pills in a plastic Ziploc® bag – the bags are too easy to chew into. Make sure visiting house guests do the same, keeping their medications high up or out of reach.
If you place your medication in a weekly pill container, make sure to store the container in a cabinet out of reach of your pets. Unfortunately, if they get a hold of it, some pets might consider the pill container a plastic chew toy.
Never store your medications near your pet’s medications – Pet Poison Helpline frequently receives calls from concerned pet owners who inadvertently give their own medication to their pet.
Always hang your purse up. Inquisitive pets will explore the contents of your bag and simply placing your purse up and out of reach can help to avoid exposure to any potentially dangerous medication(s).
While a medication may be safe for children, it may not be safe for animals. In fact, nearly 50% of all pet poisonings involve human drugs. Pets metabolize medications very differently from people. Even seemingly benign over-the-counter or herbal medications may cause serious poisoning in pets.
If your pet has ingested a human over-the-counter or prescription medication, please call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline’s 24-hour animal poison control center at 855-764-7661 immediately.
HOUSEHOLD PLANTS POISONOUS TO YOUR PETS
“My cat ate a lily!” or “My dog ate a plant. Is it poisonous?” Questions veterinarians receive, all too frequently.
There are thousands of houseplants to choose from, but which ones are poisonous and which ones are safe?
To help you choose your house plants wisely when you have pets, the ASPCA list for Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants is a great resource for pet parents (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list). The Pet Poison Helpline also is a great resource to help avoid adding plants to your home that are harmful to your pet’s health (https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/basics/top-10-plants-poisonous-to-pets/)
If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic house plant, contact your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control right away.
!!AVOID these 10 common household plants that are toxic for cats and dogs.
- LILIES are one of the most toxic house plants for cats. Ingesting even a small amount or licking a bit of pollen off their coat can cause kidney failure and death.
- PHILODENDRON, if ingested, with its high levels of calcium oxalate, can cause burns to the mouth, excessive drooling and vomiting. Other houseplants with high levels of calcium oxalate include the snake plant and pothos (devil’s ivy).
- OLEANDER, also known as Nerium, is more commonly found in outdoor gardens, but may be brought inside for the winter. These plants contain cardiac glycosides, which can cause drooling, diarrhea, abdominal pain, abnormal heart rhythm and neurologic signs.
- ALOE is a beautiful and versatile plant, often used for its medicinal properties. However, chewing on the plant can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.
- CHRYSANTHEMUMS with their bright fall flowers contain several toxic components that can cause illness in pets if ingested, including vomiting and incoordination.
- HYACINTH is a spring-blooming perennial with its toxins concentrated in the roots and bulbs. Chewing on the bulbs can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, profuse drooling and burns to the mouth. In the same plant family are Tulips and can cause similar symptoms if the bulbs are ingested.
- JADE PLANT, also known as the money plant or lucky plant. Chewing on these succulents can lead to vomiting, depression and loss of balance.
- SAGO PALM, a leafy green ornamental is highly toxic to pets! It can cause severe liver failure within a few days of ingestion. All parts of the plant are toxic and ingestion can be fatal if not treated immediately!
- DAFFODILS, associated around the world as the first sign of spring with their beautiful yellow and white flowers. Ingesting any part of this plant can trigger severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, convulsions and abnormal heart rhythm.
- ASPARAGUS FERN, also known as the foxtail fern or emerald fern, are often used in hanging pots due to their feathery leaves and hardy nature. However, if your pet brushes against it can cause skin irritation. Eating the berries can also cause vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
PET POISON CONTROL
ASPCA 888-426-4435 www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control
Pet Poison Helpline 800-213-6680 www.petpoisonhelpline.com