The outside world can be a dangerous place for pets. However did you know that your pet can be in danger even at home?
Pet owners must be vigilant about making sure there are no escape routes in the house and doors aren’t left open accidentally in case their pet wanders out and gets lost. However there are dangers in the home that pets need to be kept safe from as well.
Small items and items that can be swallowed shouldn’t be left lying around where your pet can reach them. If it’s not safe enough to be within a toddler’s reach, it’s not safe enough to be within your pet’s reach (as both can be great at swallowing things in secret). Items like Lego pieces, beads, jewellery, needles, paints, crayons, plastic bags, and small toys that your pet can easily swallow should be kept in places your pet has no access to.
Small toys for children sometimes have button batteries in them. If swallowed accidentally during play, button batteries can be extremely dangerous (to toddlers and pets). Batteries can get stuck in your pet’s throat and cause choking or suffocation, burns, and even poisoning. Swallowing batteries can be fatal for your pet so make sure he/she doesn’t have access to anything that contains them.
Your pet shouldn’t be able to get into kitchen or bathroom cabinets containing household cleaning items, corrosives, moth balls, or insect or rat poison. Pets can’t open caps but they can chew plastic coverings and topple over bottles. If a container isn’t closed properly and your pet pushes it over, there might be a spill for a curious pet to stick their nose (or tongue) into.
Keep caps closed tightly and cupboards closed properly because pets can easily open cabinet doors that aren’t closed all the way or slip into cupboards that are slightly open. Pet safe cleaners, air fresheners, and odor neutralizers and absorbents should be used to keep your pet’s area clean and fresh but even these shouldn’t be within reach of your pet for the same reason.
Cats are more sensitive (and averse) to smells so they may not directly ingest poisonous substances but even a cat can eat a rodent that has been killed by rat poison. Some dogs are curious enough to eat mothballs or other toxic items directly so it is best to keep them away from their reach just like you would with young children.
Medications should also be stored where pets can’t reach them. Bathroom cabinets or kitchen drawers which your pet can’t reach are good places for storage. Human medications should never be given to pets because they contain substances that can be toxic and dangerous to animals. What is safe for us can make our pet dangerously ill. For example, Tylenol or Panadol is an over the counter drug for humans but can be lethal if ingested by any pet (especially cats that can die from even small doses). Nasal decongestants and Ibuprofen are also extremely dangerous to animals even though they are commonly found in homes to treat minor human ailments. Pain medications, sleep aids, anti-depressants, and blood pressure and diabetes medications can also be fatal to pets. If your pet is not well, take him/her to a veterinary clinic for treatment. Don’t attempt to treat your pet at home (unless you are a veterinarian yourself).
Some foods that are healthy or at least suitable for us are dangerous for our pets. Our pets wouldn’t have access to certain foods in nature but when they live with us they’re exposed to the food we eat. You wouldn’t give soda or coffee to a baby who cries for it so the same principle can be applied to pets. Our pets sometimes want to eat what we’re eating. They don’t know the food they want could potentially poison them and it’s your responsibility to know better and keep your pet safe.
Pets shouldn’t be fed human food regardless as it can lead to bad habits like not eating their own food and begging to be fed at the table. Premium high quality pet foods contain the ingredients required to maintain optimal pet health which human food can’t do. If you’re confused about which food to feed your pet do some research online or ask your veterinarian for advice.
Human foods that should never be fed to your dog or cat are apple seeds, avocados, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, walnuts, rhubarb, onions, raw potatoes, or yeast dough. Never give your pet coffee, tea, or alcohol or anything containing xylitol (a sugar substitute commonly found in chewing gum, candy, sugar-free / diet food, and even toothpaste). Don’t feed your pet chocolate either. Dark chocolate in particular can be extremely dangerous and quickly cause heart problems and even seizures due to the combination of caffeine and theobromine. Never leave any of these foods lying around or out in the open where your pet can reach them easily or simply by jumping on a counter or table. Use a closed dustbin for food waste in the kitchen so your pet can’t jump in and pick out leftovers that could lead to poisoning.
Plants make our houses look beautiful but some can be dangerously poisonous to pets. If you’re bringing home a new plant always check beforehand that it’s safe for your pet to be around it. Pets can (and do) like digging around in plant pots and chewing plants so it’s not a risk worth taking. You can’t monitor your pet at all times so the best option is to make your house as pet safe as possible.
Common plants that are dangerous to pets are azaleas, daffodils, dracaena, hyacinths, lilies, oleander, philodendron, sago palm, and tulips. This is not a full list so if there’s a specific plant you’re thinking of getting look it up online or on www.aspca.org before deciding.
Flea and Tick Products
Be careful with using flea and tick products. Most products are suitable if used exactly as instructed but always check with your veterinarian before starting any treatment. Never use expired flea and tick products, disregard usage instructions or dosage quantities, or use dog products on cats etc. Some flea and tick products can cause severe reactions (especially in cats) like vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, muscle spasms, and even seizures so don’t use products without consulting your veterinarian first.
If you suspect your pet may have eaten something toxic or been poisoned, take them to your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary center immediately. Note down which 24/7 emergency veterinary clinics or hospitals are closest to where you live so you don’t have to waste time figuring things out if there is an emergency. Even if you are as careful as possible, it’s always good to know where to go for help if you ever need it.
Keep your pets safe, healthy, and happy 🐰🐱🐶🦜