You want your pets to be as comfortable in your home as you are, but that means being aware of all the potential household pet hazards. The truth is that there are many potential dangers that fit this description, that could hurt your pet, particularly if they ingest them. This doesn’t meant that you need to remove all of these items from your home. But it does mean that you need to be careful in your storage and use of certain products in order to protect your pet.
Many chemicals can be hazardous to pets if they are ingested, just as they are to people. Items such as antifreeze and household cleaners should all be stored out of reach of animals. It’s important to remember, too, that many animals can chew through plastic jugs or containers, so a safety lid or child-proof top on hazardous items is not enough of a precaution.
When you do use hazardous chemicals, it’s important to take proper steps to keep pets out of the area while they’re in use and to clean up spills thoroughly and promptly. You should also never use any household cleaning products containing lye in areas pets have access to.
Treated toilet water is another concern for different types of animals. Even if you don’t think your pet drinks out of the toilet, you can’t assume they don’t experiment when you’re not around. The safest thing to do is to not use these products at all, but if you do, make sure everyone in the household knows to keep the toilet seat down or the bathroom door closed at all times.
Human medications are another common danger for pets. Some animals will also chew through pill bottles, so you should always keep these in a place that your pets can’t get to. Another danger is stray pills accidentally dropped on the floor that the animal will find and later eat. That’s why it’s so important to find any pills you drop immediately and discard them promptly. Even if not immediately visible, that doesn’t mean your pet won’t be able to find them.
Cats in particular are known for eating household plants. While many of these are perfectly safe, some are known to be poisonous. These include azaleas, dumb cane, lilies, mistletoe, and philodendron, although this is far from an exhaustive list. It’s best to check a complete resource, such as the one put out by the ASPCA, or to consult with your vet about the various plants in your house in order to be make sure they’re safe. And you should also check when you’re planning to purchase a new plant.
There are plenty of human foods that are best kept away from pets as well. Many people are familiar with chocolate, which is poisonous to dogs, cats, and ferrets. Other potentially dangerous foods include onions and onion powder, coffee grounds and coffee beans, macadamia nuts, yeast dough, alcohol, grapes, raisins, and avocados. Moldy foods and any raw, unfrozen salmon should never be given to pets either.
Consuming toxic substances isn’t the only way that pets can be harmed inside your house. Other types of hazards include mini-blinds, especially for cats and kittens, who can easily get tangled in the cords. Fumes from glues, tobacco, cooking, paints, and air fresheners, particularly pumps or aerosol sprays, are all harmful to birds, so it’s important to keep birds out of areas where these are present, especially the kitchen.
Chewing on power cords is another common cause of pet injury. To prevent this, try taping down any loose cords and unplug anything you can when you’re not using it, especially if you’re leaving the house. You should also take care to clean up any broken glass or plastic throughly and promptly to prevent your pet from licking up a small shard or trying to chew on a larger one.
You need to be aware of what hazards might be lurking just outside your home as well. For instance, many lawn and garden chemicals can be a danger, as well as cocoa mulch, de-icing salts, and pest control traps containing poison that are set outside of the house. And be aware that, even if you don’t use any of these things yourself, your neighbors might, and your pet may have access to them when playing or exploring outside.
While the number of household hazards outlined here may seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember that most of the individual items fit into a few major categories. Keeping chemicals and medications stored safely out of the reach of pets, both indoors and out, is an important step to take in keeping your pet safe from household hazards.
You should also check regularly to ensure none of these items have been accidently left out. And getting your pets a stimulating assortment of appropriate toys is another good way to keep them from seeking out other items to chew on, some of which could be dangerous. Educating yourself about the potential dangers in your household is a great way to ensure that you can keep your pet safe even when you’re not at home.
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.