I read an article this morning about a dog who ingested xylitol, a common sweetener used in everything from sugarless gum to toothpaste. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, and this little guy endured some nasty symptoms that could have been so easily avoided. He is fine now, thank goodness.
But that prompted me to think about the often-overlooked household things that can sicken or even cause death for your dog. We go to great lengths to baby-proof a home, and rightly so… locks and latches on doors and cabinets, caps over electrical outlets, window guards, gates, rubber furniture guards, etc. Maybe we should do a little pet-proofing in our homes too. After all, some dogs eat all sorts of crazy things!
What can we do to pet proof our homes?
My dog seems to have a sixth sense about dangerous situations or poisonous items. If he smells or sees something questionable, or finds himself in a compromising position, he lowers his head and ears and backs away. Yet there are some dogs that pretty much jump right in, no holds barred! Even if your dog or cat has a sixth sense, like mine, it’s not worth the risk to take any chances around your home. Use these tips to help keep your furry friend safe and sound!
Foods Your Pet Shouldn’t Eat
As we just learned, Xylitol is toxic and is used in lots of sugarless gums and candies. But did you know that it is also used in toothpaste, mouthwash, lozenges, BBQ sauce, protein powders, lip balms, lotions etc.. I just read a warning the other day about a low-sugar peanut butter that contains xylitol. What dog doesn’t like peanut butter? One of the best lists I’ve seen online of items that contain xylitol is here: Check it out! Then secure that pantry or cabinet door, as well as watch out for candy and gum containing xylitol, dropped to the floor by the little ones in your family.
Raisins. Yep, raisins. And grapes. Although there are no reports of cats becoming ill from eating raisins and grapes, these foods can cause kidney damage in dogs. As a matter of fact, they made the list in 2013 of the top 10 most common dog and cat toxins. Again, watch out for raisins and grapes dropped to the floor by your little human… Pretty sure there will be a 4-legged friend just waiting to catch whatever she drops! And you may want to consider keeping fruit in the refrigerator, rather than in a bowl on the table.
Chocolate. Chocolate is toxic for dogs and cats… As are onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, alcohol… but we know that, right? Familiarize yourself with this comprehensive list of foods toxic to dogs and cats by VetFolio, and make sure your human food is safely stored away from your pets.
Outdoors Dangers for Pets
Plants. The ASPCA has published an extensive list of plants that are potentially poisonous to pets. Please check your household plants against this list and make arrangements to place them out of reach in your home.
Mulch. Generally, mulch is not a concern, however, there is one mulch on the market made from the hulls of cocoa beans… smells like a real delicacy to your dog… but has been known to cause poisoning in dogs. Cocoa mulch contains the same chemical found in chocolate, which is lethal to both dogs and cats. When ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity, as well as more serious effects like cardiac arrhythmias, seizures and even death. Ask before you buy to avoid purchasing an unsafe mulch for your yard.
Fertilizers bagged and sitting on the garage floor within easy reach of your pet can cause serious gastrointestinal problems. Fertilizers can smell pretty tasty to your dog too. Put these types of things high on a shelf in your garage. Likewise with other garage-kept chemicals such as Anti-freeze, de-icers, mouse poison, pesticides, harsh cleansers or rust removers… the list goes on and on!
Nicotine. Products containing nicotine, like cigarettes, cigarette butts, nicotine patches and gums, chewing tobacco, etc., are poisonous to dogs and cats. Nicotine is a rapidly acting toxin. These are not things you want to leave out on the end-tables or anywhere your pet can easily get to them.
Household Dangers to Pets
Electrical cords. Unsecured electrical cords are a potential hazard for all pets… from your rambunctious kitten to your sight-challenged senior dog. Cords hanging from tables can cause your pet to pull a lamp down on himself, or worse, chew on a cord and get electrocuted. Use zip ties around furniture legs to secure electrical cords and minimize the risk of injury.
Common painkiller. Advil and Aleve are toxic to dogs and cats. Make sure medicines of all types are out of reach and behind a closed door.
Plastic bags. You know that warning on plastic bags: “May cause suffocation”? That’s not just for humans. A playful dog or cat whose toy of the day is a plastic grocery bag could easily become asphyxiated. Store plastic grocery bags in a contained area up high in your pantry or cabinet.
Batteries. What if your dog chews that playtoy with the battery? Bad enough… but then he chews the battery!? The acid in the battery could cause problems in his mouth, throat and stomach. Cats are generally not chewers, so it’s probably not an issue with our feline friends. Safely stow batteries in a drawer, and take the batteries out of toys when you are not supervising.
Yarn, rubber bands, string, even dental floss is easy to swallow and can cause intestinal perforation and/or blockages. In some instances, strangulation could occur. Cats particularly love to play with yarn and string. Seems harmless, but it’s best not to take any chances. Put these things in a drawer.
Tiny householditems. Paper clips, buttons, hair pins, pins, coins, etc., often end up in the belly of your best furry friend. Even more scary, these types of things can cause puncture wounds, choking, and internal damage. Place a small container in a drawer to catch any items like this found lying around the house.
Sharing your home with a pet is such a joy. Let’s try to make it a safe and joyful place for our furry friends as well.
Can you think of any other ways to “pet-proof” your home? Contact us and let us know what you think!