Poison Prevention Week: Household Items

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The third week of March is National Poison Prevention Week. Yesterday we covered popular plants poisonous to cats and dogs. Today we are going to talk about some of the common items you have around your home that are toxic to cats and dogs.

Antifreeze: This neon green liquid that helps keep your engine cool is deadly to cats and dogs, even in tiny amounts. As little as half a teaspoon can be fatal for a cat. Pets are attracted to antifreeze because of its sweet smell and taste.  Antifreeze will cause kidney failure and death if not treated immediately.  Always keep antifreeze in a sealed container out of reach of pets and check for spills after use. If you share a communal garage space like in an apartment building, be extra careful your cat or dog is not in danger of accidental poisoning.

beloved pets drink from puddles

*This picture was created to illustrate how easy it is for pets to drink from tainted puddles. This cat is not actually drinking antifreeze.

Chemical Cleaners: Cleaning products including bleach, Borax, drain cleaners, detergents, furniture polish, Goo-Gone, wood preservatives, air fresheners and deodorizers should be kept out of reach and used with caution. Try using an all natural cleaner (like Dr. Bronners) for surfaces paws will touch, like floors, counter-tops and litter boxes.

Citrus Oils:  Essential oils are used in aromatherapy and homemade face and hair masks. Lemon, orange and bergamot oils are commonly added to diffusers and hot bathwater to help humans relax. If citrus oils are ingested by pets they can cause drooling, weakness, trembling, hyperthermia, and death.

Compost Bins or Piles: Piles of decomposing, decaying organic matter and molding foods in your backyard can be toxic. Molds can cause tremors, even if consumed in small amounts. The symptoms can be seen in as little as 30 minutes to several hours after ingesting.

Fertilizer: Fertilizers can contain any combination of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, boron, manganese as well as unknown herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. While it may make your lawn nice and lush, it can cause stomach upset, chemical poisoning, bowel obstruction and inflammation of the pancreas if ingested.

Glues: Certain types of expanding glues, like Gorilla Glue, can be fatal to your pet.  Glues containing diphenylmethane diisocyanate can expand in your pet’s stomach and require surgery to remove.

Homemade Play-dough: There are several different ways of making homemade play-dough. A lot of recipes call for high levels of salt which can cause salt poisoning. Symptoms of salt poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, excessive thirst,  frequent urination and death. No matter what recipe you use, err on the side of caution and keep it out of your pet’s reach.

Homemade Playdough

Human Medications: Medications containing acetaminophen, ibuprofen and dextromethorphan can be potentially fatal. Even in small doses, all medications formulated for humans (including prescription medications) can cause damage to the liver and red blood cells in dogs. One acetaminophen tablet can be fatal to a cat.

Insecticides: Insecticides used in ant traps, roach killers and weed killers are poisonous to pets. Insecticides also include medications for fleas and ticks. Always be sure to dispense the correct dosage of flea and tick medicine and keep track of when you apply it so you don’t reapply too soon.

Lead:  Lead can be found in paint, ceramics, and even golf balls. Lead can cause stomach pain, seizures, vomiting, weakness, blindness, and excessive chewing.

Mothballs: Mothballs are comprised of the chemical pesticide para-dichlorobenzene and deodorant. Mothballs are a neurotoxin and can cause serious illness and death if ingested.  Long term inhalation of mothball vapors can cause headaches, respiratory distress and eye irritation.  Repeated inhalation of the vapors over time can be fatal for your pet.

Mouthwash: Human mouthwash contains boric acid which is very harmful to your pet. If dog or cat breath is an issue, try pet dental chews instead.

Pest Control Products: Pest control products are insecticides. Most of these products are dangerous and deadly. If you must have your home treated for pests like roaches, bed bugs, termites and ants, be sure to discuss with your pest control provider what steps to take to keep your pet safe.

Petroleum Products: These can be gas, motor oil, paint, paint thinner, paint remover, kerosene, and lighter fluid. These products can cause tremors, breathing problems, coma, seizures, vomiting, respiratory failure, and even death.

Rawhide Chews: Rawhide Chews that are sold for pet consumption can still be hazardous. These chews can contain salmonella which can make you and your pet sick. If a dog does not chew and soften the rawhide enough before swallowing, tears in the stomach lining can occur.

Dreyfuss chews his bone

Slug Bait: Slug bait containing metaldehyde is particularly poisonous to dogs and cats.  Slug bait pellets can be easily ingested by dogs and can cause seizures in your pets.

Toothpaste: Toothpaste contains fluoride which can cause gastrointestinal upset in small amounts. Always use special pet toothpaste for your cat or dog but beware if the pet toothpaste contains Xylitol.

Zinc: The most common product in every household containing zinc are pennies. Ingesting pennies can cause diarrhea, vomiting, retching, stomach pain, weakness, elevated body temperature, and coma.

Do you know of other poisonous household items that are missing from this list? Help other pet owners by leaving a comment below.