Our pets are marvellous beings. We provide
food, attention, training, medical care and love. In exchange, they offer
companionship, protection, enjoyment and their own love for us. For
all that they have to offer, though, they must rely on us for protection
from harm. We need to look at our homes through the eyes of our pets,
seeking out "toys" and "entertainments" that may be harmful for them.
Dogs and cats of all ages, and especially
kittens and puppies, explore with their mouths. Dogs like to mouth and
chew things. Cats may start to taste something and be unable to spit it
out because of their rough tongues. Both may simply "dive in" when they
see us doing something new or unfamiliar. These behaviours often land them
in trouble. But we can do a lot to improve the odds.
Our homes can contain a wide variety of potentially harmful compounds. The
following is not a complete list, but indicates some of the most common
Foods to Avoid
- Onions, onion powder
- Chocolate (baker's, semi-sweet, milk, dark)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Yeast dough
- Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans)
- Tea (caffeine)
- Macadamia nuts
- Hops (used in home beer brewing)
- Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
- Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
- Rhubarb leaves
- Avocados (toxic to birds, mice, rabbits, horses, cattle, and dairy
- Mouldy foods
Because they are so much smaller than we are, our companion animals need
to be kept away from all medications. Cats, in particular, have a body
chemistry quite different from ours in several important ways. Do not give
any of your medications to a pet. That includes over-the-counter
medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, cough or cold medicines and
decongestants. Do not give your dog's medicine to your cat or ferret.
Be careful where you take your own
medications. Make sure a pill does not drop within reach of a playful paw
or quick, slurping tongue. Do not put your medications out on a table or
counter to take later. They may not be there when later arrives.
Store medications for all family members and
pets in high cabinets, out of reach. With their curiosity and strong
teeth, dogs can crack open a pill bottle and swallow the entire contents
in a very short time. Even if a medicine prescribed for your pet, too
large a dose could cause problems.
Medications that come in tubes may also pose a
large risk. Most pets have sharp teeth and can chew into a tube within
seconds. Creams and ointments that may be quite safe when applied to the
skin can cause serious problems when eaten.
Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer
drugs, anti-depressants, vitamins and diet pills are all examples of human
medications that can be lethal to animals, even in small doses.
Some house plants can be quite harmful if ingested by an animal. The
ingestion of azalea, oleander, castor bean, sago palm, Easter lily or yew
plant material by an animal can be fatal. Chewing on some plants may
result in severe irritation to the mouth and throat. Others, while not
quite so deadly, may cause a severe intestinal upset. You should know the
names of all your plants, and keep any potentially toxic plants out of
areas accessible to your animal companions. A good visual reference guide
can be found at the University of Illinois Toxicology homepage.
Flea Control Products and Other Insecticides
For many pets, fleas are a problem that make life miserable. When you
treat a house to kill fleas or other insects, read the product label and
follow all directions carefully. This is particularly important if a flea
control product is to be applied directly to the pet. Before buying a flea
product, consult your veterinarian, especially when treating sick,
debilitated or pregnant pets. If you put out ant or roach baits, make sure
they are in a spot inaccessible to your pet. Keep track of the baits and
remove and dispose of them properly when they are no longer needed. Record
on a calendar the date the bait was put out and the name of the bait used.
This will be needed if your dog eats an entire bait container or if there
was no label on the container and you need to tell the Centre veterinarian
what your pet ingested.
Mouse and Rat Poisons
If you put out mouse or rat baits, make sure they are in a spot that your
pet cannot reach. reach. Keep track of the baits and remove and dispose of
them when they are no longer needed. Record on a calendar the date the
bait was put out and the name of the bait used. This will be needed if
your dog eats an entire bait container or if there was no label on the
container and you need to tell the Center veterinarian what your pet
Many household chemicals can be harmful if consumed by a companion animal.
Most cleansing materials can cause stomach upset and vomiting if they are
eaten. Dishwasher detergent can produce burns in the mouth. When using
household chemicals, special care should be taken to make sure your pets
cannot get into them. This may mean keeping your pet out of the room where
you are using such materials. Common household items that can be lethal to
an animal are mothballs, potpourri oils, coffee grounds, homemade play
dough, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, batteries,
cigarettes, and alcoholic drinks.
Outdoor plants can also be quite hazardous to your pets. Many plants, such
as oleander, azalea, rhododendrons and Japanese yew, can affect the heart
rhythm, possibly even causing it to stop. Some plants can cause
considerable stomach upset with vomiting or diarrhea. Others can produce
mental disturbances or confusion.
Gardening and Lawn Care Supplies
Please do not use garden or lawn care chemicals in the presence of your
pet. For your own and your animal's safety, read and follow label
directions carefully. Your pets should be kept off of a lawn treated with
an insecticide or a weed killer at least until the lawn is completely dry.
Your pet must be kept out of an area where snail or slug bait has been
applied. Always store such products in areas that are inaccessible to your
companion animals. Contact the manufacturer for information concerning
product usage around your pets.
Automobile Care Supplies
Like indoor cleaners, car-cleaning compounds can cause stomach upset and
vomiting. Some car-cleaning agents are stronger than those used indoors.
Car-cleaning products should be kept away from your pet, who will be safer
if he or she is not allowed to "help" you clean your automobile.
Antifreeze and windshield washer
fluid can be harmful to your pet. Your pet should not be allowed to
drink water from a car radiator. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze
can be deadly to a cat; less than one tablespoon can be deadly to a
10-pound dog. Safer antifreeze products are now available and should be
While performing construction, remodelling or repair work, keep pets out
of the area until all equipment and materials have been put away. Keep
pets away from fresh paint, varnish, or stains until these finishes have
dried completely. If a pet comes in contact with paint or other finishes,
DO NOT use paint thinners or paint removers to clean the animal. Contact
your local veterinarian for removal instructions.
David The Dogman