It seems like no matter if you’re human or animal, there is something found almost every day that’s now been determined to be hazardous to our health. Some days I wonder if we shouldn’t just lock ourselves and our pets in bubbles for safety sake! It’s not only irritating but outright scary what we might learn tomorrow about what we gave our pet to play with or eat today. What’s even worse is that learning about the hazard today may already be to late.
No one person can possibly be expected to know or remember all the hazards, so we’ll start a list here. Please if you have something to add.
The following list was originally printed in “Your Dog” a newsletter from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University called “The Top 20 Household Threats.” Since their list doesn’t cover everything, we’ve added to it and will continue to add as new information is found. The original list from Cummings is suppose to be the most frequently reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
You may enjoy a visit to Tuft’s online book store and browse their numerous publications on a number of pet-related topics.
- cleaning products: Bleach, detergents, toilet-bowl and drain cleaners may contain chemicals that can be harmful to your dog. Always keep the toilet lid closed and seriously consider switching to environmentally friendly alternatives.
- insecticides: Don’t use canned sprays anywhere near your dog’s eating area. Throw away old pesticides that have been lurking in your home for years and replace them with recently developed less toxic products. If you use an exterminator, check with them about what products they use and ask if they are in any way harmful to pets. Make a note of the products and verify the exterminator’s response with the manufacturer by phone or by visiting their web site. The safest way to handle this is to take your pet to a boarding kennel until the fumes have dissipated. A minimum of four hours and better at eight hours is our experience.
- electrical cords: Shocks from chewing on electric cords can trigger seizures, stop the heart, or may cause an irratic heartbeat and difficulty breathing. Most household shocks are nowhere near this serious. Dogs will typically get burned on the lips, corners of the mouth or tongue. Contact your vet immediately.
- liquid potpourri: May contain detergent and essential oils, both of which are toxic to dogs if swallowed. Dogs may be exposed by ingesting the liquid right from the simmer pot or by lapping it up from a spill. They have also be exposed if a container with the liquid is spilled on the dog’s fur and then ingested when he grooms. The hot liquid can burn the dogs skin.
- hot cars: The risk of leaving your dog in a hot car can be present even on relatively mild days. Interior temperatues in cars with closed windows can reach 100 degrees rapidly even on 70 degree days. Avoid taking your dog with you on warms days if leaving him in a parked car is going to be necessary. When you park, anticipate where the shade will be as the day progresses. Always leave all windows lowered as far as possible without allowing your dog to escape. Dogs with flat faces such as English Bulldogs and dogs with heavy coats are particularly prone to overheating. Signs of overheating include extremely rapid shallow breathing and possible loss of consciousness. Apply cool moistened towels to his body and limbs and take your dog to the nearest veterinarian immediately.
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): In some cases NSAIDs toxicity are due to deliberate administration of these drugs by well-meaning owners. Commonly adminstered NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. These drugs can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gastric ulcers and in high doses – acute renal failure. Treatment may include minimizing further absorption by inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal. Acid reducers and gastro-intestinal protectants require aggressive fluid therapy to prevent renal damage. Keep medication containers and tubes of ointments & creams away from pets that could chew through them. Be vigilant about finding & disposing of any dropped pills.
- aceteminophen: The main ingredient in Tylenol, aceteminophen, is frequently combined with several other drugs in common over-the-counter cold and flu preparations such as Nyquil. While it’s a very dangerous drug for cats, it’s relatively safe for dogs if used under the supervision of a verterinarian. The common pill sizes manufactured for use by humans are potentially dangerous to very small dogs. Signs of poisoning may include vomiting, labored breathing, swelling of the face & paws and brown discoloration of the mucous membranes. Treatment requires hospitalization and administration of fluids and drugs. The prognosis is dependent on the amount ingested and how quickly treatment is administered.
- xylitol: The Animal Poison Control Center has issued a warning against the artificial sweetener Xylitol which is found in many sugar free products including gum, cough drops and mouthwash. The sweetener is toxic to dogs and may cause death! A dog who ingests Xylitol may experience a sudden drop in blood sugar resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. Symptoms may be seen within 30 minutes to an hour after ingestion. Xylitol can also cause liver failure. If you carry a purse with Xylitol products, don’t keep it on the ground or floor. Keep toothpaste and mouthwash out of your pet’s reach.
- anti-coagulant rodenticides: These rat and mouse poisons work by inhibiting the activity of vitamin K, blocking the synthesis of important clotting factors causing rodents to bleed to death internally. Ingestion of these poisons can result in bleeding disorders in dogs. Signs may not be apparent until several days after ingestion. Call your vet immediately if you suspect that your dog may have consumed these products.
- outdoor cleaners: Many chemicals including swimming pool cleaners, weed killers and battery acid cause burns. A heavy coat doesn’t protect dogs from chemicals and may make the burns worse because the fur keeps them in contact with the skin.
- leftovers: How many of us treat our pooches to human food treats? In many homes this is a common practice, The list of unsafe human food seems to be growing at a frightening pace! Some human foods to keep away from pets include onions, onion powder, alcoholic beverages, yeast dough, coffee grounds & coffee beans, salt, macadamia nuts, tomato, potato, rhubarb leaves & stems and anything with mold growing on it. Make sure your dog cannot access the trash bins in your home.
- fertilizers: Chemicals used on lawns and gardens such as fertilizer and plant food can be easily accessible and can be fatal to a dog allowed in a yard unsupervised. Become familiar with the ingredients in the products you or your landscaper put on your lawn or garden. Your vet can answer your questions about specific chemicals. It’s probably advisable to keep your dog off the lawn for a few days after fertilizing if possible.
- garlic: In large quantities, garlic can be toxic to dogs. It can destroy their red blood cells and make them anemic. There is an old myth that giving a dog garlic will ward off fleas, which is not true and just makes the dog smell bad. From Dog Fancy Magazine Sept 08 “Puppy Myths” article.
- Grooming with PET DRYERS If you take your pet to a groomer this video is a must see!
- People Food That Can Kill Your Pet An MSNBC must read news article.
- Things that can crack your dog’s teeth! According to vet dentists as reported in the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine August 2008 newsletter “Your Dog” … the top 5 that can cause CRACKED TEETH are ice cubes, raw or cooked bones, hard/nylon chew toys, rocks and animal hooves.
- What do cars and microwaves have in common? Putting your dog in a car on a hot day is literally equal to microwaving your pet. According to the Stanford University School of Medicine, when it’s 72 degrees outside, a car’s interior temperature can increase 40 degrees in an hour and become lethal. A window left slightly open had little effect on both the rate of heating and the final temperature after an hour. Think you’re keeping your pet safe by leaving the air conditioning running? Think again. In 2003 a Texas police dog died after the air conditioning shut down and began blowing hot air. The compressor kicked off because the engine got to hot. A similar tragedy occured in North Carolina when a family ran on a quick shopping trip and the air conditioning stopped working. Even though they’d been caring enough to leave bowls of water and ice in the car, a 30 minute shopping trip turned into tragedy.