From Ornaments to Yeast: The Biggest Household Dangers for Cats and Dogs

All pet parents may be shocked to hear their home can be a minefield of potential hazards. Here’s how to keep your fur babies safe.

The post From Ornaments to Yeast: The Biggest Household Dangers for Cats and Dogs appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

All pet parents want to keep their fur babies safe. So they may be shocked to learn their home can be a minefield of potential hazards that can cause severe harm or even death for their feline and canine family members.

“Cats and dogs are curious animals and tend to get into things, so nothing is foolproof,” says Tina Wismer, senior director of toxicology at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “But there are some easy precautions that you can take to make it less likely that they will find something that they shouldn’t.”

Most people know to keep chocolate hidden away from their pooches—it can be toxic to dogs and the APCC handles about 76 cases of chocolate exposure per day. But there’s a host of seemingly innocent items in your home that cause harm. In 2020 alone, the APCC helped more than 370,500 animals.

So here’s what to keep out of paws’ reach and information on what to do if your pet is accidentally exposed to a toxin.

Crucial poison information

First things first: If you suspect your pet has ingested any poisonous substances, contact your veterinarian or call APCC’s hotline at 888-426-4435 immediately. You’ll need to provide your pet’s breed, age, weight, and health history, as well as what symptoms the animal is exhibiting.

Symptoms of toxicity can vary depending on the hazard, amount consumed, size, and animal species.

“Signs you may notice if your pet ingests something poisonous may be stomach upset, loss of coordination, increased or decreased urination, and seizures,” says Wismer. “All poison exposures and items cause different signs, but these are most commonly observed while others are more internal.”

Your vet or the APCC will ask about the product package, the strength of ingredients, and the amount your pet was exposed to, so having the product close at hand when you call is always a plus, adds Wismer.

Danger No. 1: Human medicine

Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, vitamins, and supplements ranked as the top toxins in 2020 for the third year in a row, making up about 17% of APCC’s total case volume.

“Take all medications behind a closed door,” says Wismer. “Typically, we recommend taking them in the bathroom with the bathroom door closed. Then, if you drop the pill, you will have time to search for it without having to worry about your pet finding it first.”

Other medications to keep locked up include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and prescriptions.

Danger No. 2: Edible hazards

Human foods made up 13% of 2020’s total toxicity cases at APCC, with most calls about grapes, raisins, xylitol (a sugar substitute), onions, garlic, protein powder, and snack bars.

Yeast dough is another danger. When eaten, yeast can rise in a pet’s moist, warm stomach and cause a dangerous gas accumulation.

“Beyond being painful, this may result in a bloated stomach or even a twisted stomach, known as gastric dilatation-volvulus, a serious medical emergency,” says Kurt Venator, chief veterinary officer at Purina. “In addition, the yeast can become fermented, thereby producing alcohol within the stomach that can be absorbed into the bloodstream.”

And of course, there’s chocolate.

“Chocolate, coffee, and caffeine all contain substances called methylxanthines,” says Wismer. “These compounds are stimulants. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death.”

Other edible dangers to keep away from your pets include alcohol, avocado, leeks, chives, and macadamia nuts.

Danger No. 3: Nonedible hazards

Most homeowners have toxic items lying around their garage and home. Think items such as antifreeze, insecticides and pesticides, pool chemicals, and lawn fertilizer—all of which can be a significant hazard to your pets. Keep all pesticides and cleaners in high cabinets fortified with a childproof lock.

“Be aware that childproof rat poison containers are not pet-proof and that dogs especially can and will chew into them,” says Wismer. “Additionally, mice and rats will move blocks of rodent poisons. So they can end up in areas that are accessible to pets, even if they weren’t placed in areas that pets can get into initially.”

Nonedible items also include personal care products. Keep toothpaste, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and fabric softener sheets out of snout’s reach.

Danger No. 4: Plants and flowers

Consumption of plants and flowers inside and outside the home may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats. The APCC received 9,000 more calls in 2020 than the previous year for pet plant consumption.

“All plants and flowers should be kept out of reach from your pet to avoid broken glass or pottery, giving them access to potentially contaminated water,” says Whitney Miller, chief veterinarian at Petco. “And eating that actual plant or flower, which could cause stomach upset or even be toxic.”

Instead, feature nontoxic plants in your home such as African violets, bamboo, roses, or spider plants, advises Miller.

To make sure your plant babies will get along well with your fur babies, here’s Chewy’s breakdown of the 10 most poisonous plants for dogs and cats.

Danger No. 5: Household hazards

Holiday decorations also present a danger to our furry friends. Puppies and inquisitive dogs can chew on electric cords, putting them at risk of serious burns or electric shock.

So Venator suggests pet-proofing your home just as you would childproof it for a toddler. He also recommends touring the house at your pet’s level to spot and remove any potential temptations from their view.

The post From Ornaments to Yeast: The Biggest Household Dangers for Cats and Dogs appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.