Are your homes truly "pet safe? " There are many potential dangers right under your, and your pets', noses, and, as is often the case, the best treatment for these dangers is prevention.
Let's start with foods:
Most of you know that chocolate can be toxic for our pets, but fortunately it takes quite a bit to make them sick. The most toxic chocolate is the pure baking form, which doesn't taste as good, whereas the better tasting milk and semi-sweet chocolate, is not as potent. Many of the chocolates also contain high amounts of fat and sugar, which can also be bad for our pets. Bottom line? Keep the four-legged kids away from the chocolate goodies!
Something many of you may not know is that raisins and grapes may be highly toxic to some pets. Since we have no way of knowing which pets may be sensitive, and what dose may be toxic, we recommend no raisins or grapes, and that includes trail mixes, granolas with raisins, grape or raisin juice, and any bakery goods with raisins.
Other potentially toxic foods which your pets should avoid are walnuts, macadamia nuts, avocados, and other fatty foods like bacon grease, chicken fat, butter or margarine, and fatty meats. Large amounts of onions and garlic can also be toxic, and that includes onion and garlic powders.
What about plants?
Many plants can be toxic to our pets, but only a few are very serious. One of the most dangerous are lilies-especially for cats - as it causes severe kidney failure. Oleander is also toxic, but poinsettias, which are always listed as very toxic, are not as dangerous as we once thought.
There is a long list of household products, including cleaners and chemicals, lawn products, and pesticides which can be very dangerous to our pets.
Bleach, ammonias, ammonium compounds, and harsh chemicals like drain cleaners and tile cleaners should be kept high out of reach or in locked cabinets. Likewise, the gardening products like composts, weed killers, and fertilizers should be kept out of reach. Many of the fertilizers actually contain bone meal which makes them more palatable to our pets. Speaking of dangerous products that taste good to our pets, certain cholecalciferol, warfarin and dicoumadin-based rodenticides or rat poisons, and many metaldehyde-based snail baits lead the list. These products are potentially deadly, and since they need to be formulated to be attractive to the pests, they are also attractive to our pets. Another very dangerous item that pets seem to like is antifreeze. Even the small amount that drips from a car's radiator can be toxic to a dog or cat's kidneys, and can be fatal. Look for antifreezes that do not contain ethylene glycol, or those that are purposely made to taste bitter. Even these can be toxic in large amounts, but are generally more pet-friendly.
The last class of potential dangerous substances are those products which are supposed to be good for us and our pets-medications!
Many prescription and over the counter medications, both for us and for our pets, can be dangerous, and even deadly. Many anti-depressants and sleep aids can be very toxic to pets, most of which weigh considerably less than we do. Calcium and vitamin d supplements which many women take for bone health can also be dangerous to pets. Our non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also be dangerous to our four-legged crew. Acetaminophen will kill a cat, and ibuprofen, at human adult doses, can be very toxic to dogs and cats. Even medications made for our pets can be very dangerous if taken at higher doses. Many of the drugs which are commonly prescribed for pets are made as tasty chewables. The problem is that often they are so tasty; dogs will search them out as treats, and can ingest dangerous amounts. Make sure to keep these and all medications, out of your pets, and your kid's, reach.
Symptoms which your pets might exhibit vary greatly based on the type and amount of toxic substance ingested. Dangerous foods often cause gastrointestinal signs like vomiting and diarrhea, though some can also cause neurologic symptoms, like chocolate. The grapes and raisins, along with lily plants, will cause acute kidney problems, while the very fatty foods can induce pancreatitis.
Toxic plants can also cause a variety of symptoms ranging from intestinal problems to neurologic disease to heart problems, as with oleander toxicity.
The household chemicals can cause severe skin and secretory surface irritation, gastrointestinal upset, neurologic problems (as with metaldehyde-based snail baits), clotting disorders (as with the warfarin and coumadin-based rodenticides), and even kidney failure (as with antifreeze or vitamin d rodenticide toxicity). Many of these products are deadly if treatment isn't started immediately.
The symptoms associated with the medications are either an exaggeration of the intended effect, severe gastrointestinal irritation-often even severe ulceration, and, in the case of acetaminophen and cats, deadly!
If you suspect your pet ingested any of these dangerous foods, plants, household chemicals, or medications, get him or her to your veterinarian or nearest veterinary emergency hospital immediately. Another option is to call a pet poison helpline, which provides poison control information for you, your pet, and your veterinarian. Make sure to have the packaging, pill bottle, and/or the substance itself readily available to help your veterinarian decide on the best course of treatment.