Awareness of the toxins that may be lurking in and around your household is essential, as more than 90 percent of pet poisonings happen at home. Data collected from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) showed that of 180,000 calls, over 30 percent were due to household and garden products.
Toxins in the yard
Plants. Colorful plants are a great way to brighten up your yard, but many varieties are toxic to pets if ingested. Dog and cat owners should be aware of dangerous varieties, including:
- Lilies — may result in kidney failure if consumed by cats
- Azaleas and tulips — can cause intestinal upset and heart problems when eaten
- Sago palm — consumption may result in seizures and liver damage
- Daffodils — ingestion may result in vomiting and diarrhea, with severe cases causing dangerously low blood pressure
- Oleander — can cause heart problems if ingested
- Dieffenbachia — can cause irritation to the mouth and difficulty swallowing
Pesticides. Lawn pesticides can get on your pet’s fur and skin if he roams around a freshly-sprayed area. Even worse, if he grooms himself afterward, he may ingest the toxic compounds. Keep dogs and cats off treated lawns for as long as the manufacturer recommends.
Garage and shed toxins
Rodenticides. Rodenticides are designed to kill rodents by using chemicals that prohibit blood from clotting, increase calcium levels, cause brain swelling, or produce toxic gas once ingested. This can mean serious consequences for your pet if he consumes a rodenticide. The likelihood of death as a result of ingestion is high, therefore all rodenticides used or stored in and around your home need to be made inaccessible to pets. If your pet gets ahold of one of these toxins, keep the product information so a treatment plan can be created based on the specific chemical consumed.
Paint. Paint thinners and solvents have the potential to cause chemical burns if your pet comes into direct contact with them. Latex paint is relatively safe around pets, however an upset stomach is likely if ingested. Expanding wood glue may seem relatively harmless, but once expelled from its container this adhesive expands up to five times its original size. If ingested, it has the potential to create severe gastrointestinal blockages. Keep all paints, thinners, and glues on high shelves out of reach of your pets.
Antifreeze. Ingestion of antifreeze products containing ethylene glycol often has fatal consequences. Pets find this sweet-tasting chemical enticing, but consumption results in sudden kidney failure. Treatment is possible, but the antidote must be administered within hours of ingestion to be effective. If toxicity is suspected, contact us immediately. Keep all products containing ethylene glycol tightly closed and out of reach of pets. If a spill occurs, promptly absorb the chemical with baking soda, and clean with liquid dish soap and a hard-bristle brush.
Common household toxins
Foods. Your pet may enjoy a nibble of your food every now and then, but not all foods are safe for your pet to eat. Common foods that are toxic to pets include:
- Grapes and raisins
- Onions and garlic
- Xylitol (an artificial sweetener often found in sugar-free candies and chewing gum)
- Tea, coffee, and other drinks containing caffeine
Medications. Ingestion of medication is the most common toxicity seen by the APCC. Human medications, including over-the-counter varieties, should never be given to pets unless prescribed by your veterinarian. Keep all medications, even those prescribed for your pet, stored securely out of reach.
Cleaning products. Most cleaning products can safely be used around pets, but they must be securely stored out of reach. Read labels prior to use, as many list warnings of possible health risks. Fumes from household cleaners with ammonia or bleach can be irritating to the respiratory tract if a high concentration is inhaled. Concentrated solutions, like toilet bowl cleaner, can cause chemical burns if they contact your pet’s skin. Drooling, upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea are potential effects when many cleaners are ingested. If a large amount is consumed, more severe reactions, such as seizures and death, are possible.
Time is critical if your pet is poisoned. If you think your pet has been exposed to a toxin, call us immediately at 803-831-1318.