Protect Your Pets from Common Household Toxins

March 15, 2009

National Poison Prevention Week (March 15-21, 2009) is a good time to find out more about some of the dangers posed to our pets in our own homes.

- By Angela Hutchinson, RVT

What do sugar-free gum, onions, and lilies have in common? Surprisingly, all are extremely toxic to pets if ingested. Most people know that chocolate can be poisonous to dogs, but the chemical compounds found in many other foods and household items can also be dangerous for pets. Consuming these products can result in organ failure or even death if your pet does not receive prompt medical treatment.

Most toxins in the home can be found in the kitchen, and include foods such as dry onion soup mix, grapes, and raisins. A few grapes dropped on the floor will not be harmful, but a larger quantity eaten all at once or consumed regularly over time can result in kidney failure in dogs. Cats can also be harmed by these foods. Keep pantry doors closed and put purses containing gum out of reach.

All varieties of lilies, including Easter lilies, are toxic to cats, and can cause renal failure. Cats are attracted to this plant, so remember to keep them out of your house, even if they are cut flowers as part of a floral arrangement. Do not plant lilies in your yard if your cat goes outside.

This spring, if you spread fertilizer on your lawn, be aware that these chemicals are picked up on paws and can lead to skin irritations. The toxins can also be ingested when your pet licks his paws. Mole baits will eliminate moles in your yard, but these pellets are often strychnine-based, and will poison your pet if consumed. The same is true for snail baits that are spread under shrubs.

In the garage, remember to store pesticides and weed-killers on a shelf, out of your pet's reach. Antifreeze and mouse and rat poisons are also dangerous. Clean up any spills immediately. Just one tablespoon of antifreeze can be fatal to a cat.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten something poisonous, call your veterinarian immediately.

Look at your pet as you would a young child – it is curious and doesn't understand that it can be harmed by some products. So keep your home safe and help your pet enjoy a long life.

Angela Hutchinson is Department Chair of the Veterinary Technology program at Sanford-Brown College in Fenton. She a Registered Veterinary Technician and has more than 16 years of clinical experience in veterinary emergency work.

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