Pets tend to be carefree creatures, brightening our days with their fun-loving antics and zest for life. But, this enthusiasm for exploration can land your furry pal in a heap of trouble. Because she investigates using her nose, eyes, and mouth, your pet can come into contact with a potential toxin or poisonous substance. Homes, garages, and yards are full of hidden poisons that your pet may unearth, if she’s too nosy for her own good. Following is information you should know about the most common pet toxins, and the appropriate steps to pet-proof your home.
Pet toxins in your medicine cabinet
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center fields thousands of phone calls each year about potential pet poisonings, with almost half about medications. Human medications receive the brunt of the cases, with over-the-counter (OTC) medications edging out prescription medications. The most common medications pets ingested included:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, and naproxen
- Cold medications
- Herbal supplements
- ADHD medications
- Sleep aids
- Heart medications
While many of these drugs can easily be dropped on the floor, or left where a pet can eat the package, occasionally people use their leftover prescriptions or OTC medications to treat their pet. Human medications should never be given to a pet without first consulting one of our veterinarians. Although some medications can be used in people and pets, the dosages are often vastly different, and many human medications are highly toxic to pets.
Your pet’s own medications, especially the flavored chewable tablets or liquids, are another common toxin. Sometimes, medicating your pet may be easier than you expected, and you turn your back, only to discover that your dog has gulped down her entire box of chewable heartworm preventives like they were delicious treats. Doubling up on a pet’s medication is another common cause for poisoning calls. For example, pets may be medicated twice if pet owners fail to communicate who is responsible for medicating the pet, and both owners dole out daily pills.
When medicating your pet, always follow our veterinarian’s advice, place medications out of reach, and communicate with your family regarding medication responsibility.
Pet toxins in your kitchen
Pets are lured into the kitchen by delightful aromas, whether they’re coming from the oven or the trash can. But, many foods are hazardous to your pet’s health and can cause life-threatening illness, so ensure your furry pal is out of the kitchen if you’re whipping up a dish with the following ingredients:
- Macadamia nuts
- Raw or fatty meat
Depending on the food your pet ingests, she may suffer from liver or kidney failure, heart arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, lethargy, bacterial infections, pancreatitis, or a foreign body obstruction. When offering your pet a special treat, choose a pet-friendly option, such as fresh veggies like carrots or broccoli, or small bites of fruit like bananas or apples. When in doubt about a snack for your furry pal, call us first.
Pet toxins in your garage and garden
All too often, pet owners fail to keep a close eye on their furry friend outdoors, thinking a fenced-in yard will keep her safe, but hazardous substances are hidden in your garage, lawn, and garden, that may tempt your pet. Many pesticide products, such as rodenticides, and ant and slug baits, appeal to dogs as well as pests, and can harm your pet as much as a pest. Tantalizing toxins that can be found in your garage and garden may include:
- Slug bait
- Cocoa mulch
- Bone and blood meal
Before using a fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide, or other chemical in your yard, always read the instructions on the label to ensure the product is child- and pet-safe.
If your pet has been exposed to a potential toxin, whether in your home or outdoors, you may notice lethargy, vomiting, stumbling, difficulty breathing, or seizures. At the first sign of poisoning, contact us immediately, or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 after normal business hours.