6 Household Dangers for Pets

These common household items can cause serious problems for our pets.
By: Dorri Olds
Beagle trying to open kitchen cabinet

We all love our pets and would never intentionally hurt them. But did you know that you might be risking their lives on a daily basis? Household hazards can cause serious harm for domestic animals. Once you’re armed with knowledge it is easy to pet proof your home both inside and outside.

Human Medications

Just as toddlers need to be protected from your medications, so do your pets. Medication can taste like gourmet food to your dog or cat because it’s something different they never had before. The most common toxins for pets are: acetaminophen, antidepressants, aspirin, cold medicines, hydrocodone, ibuprofen and vitamins. All of these can be deadly if swallowed by your pets. Keep medicine containers and tubes of ointments and creams away from pets who could chew through them, and be vigilant about finding and disposing of any dropped pills. If you think your dog, cat or any other pet, has ingested medication rush him or her to the veterinary emergency room immediately.

Plants

Innocent looking houseplants can kill. In fact, 700 plants contain toxins that can harm your pets. A list of the most common potentially toxic plants includes lilies, mistletoe, azalea, aloe vera, amaryllis, carnation, daffodil, ivy and philodendron. Signs of poisoning from plants are vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, drooling, and diarrhea. Toxic substances can lead to kidney failure and death. Chemicals used on lawns and gardens like plant food and fertilizer can be fatal if swallowed.

Electrical Wires and Appliances

Pets should be protected from all electrical wires. Dogs and cats like to chew on things. An electrical injury can burn your pet’s mouth and more severe injuries can result in difficulty breathing, seizures and cardiac arrest. Electrical appliances should be unplugged when not in use. Paper shredders, for example, have injured cats who have climbed on top and gotten their foot or hair caught. Dogs have also gotten their tongues caught in paper shredders.

Recliner Chairs and Doors

These are especially dangerous to puppies and kittens who love to run around and explore. Your little loved ones can be crushed if you sit and recline without knowing they are under the chair. Always check before sitting down on a recliner and let your friends and family know to check first also. Doors can be a problem, especially if they are heavy and slam shut. This can crush your fur baby or cause trauma to paws or tail. One very common but avoidable pet death occurs when an animal runs through an open door and gets hit by a car. You can protect your pets by having a properly fenced in yard, or be sure the pet is secured when opening and closing doors.

Because cats are attracted to string, a feline may swallow a sewing needle with thread and get it lodged in its esophagus. A sign that something is wrong is your cat going into hiding. Other times you will notice she isn’t eating, or you may even see a lump in her neck. You can also check her mouth to see if there is thread caught there. Dogs love you and anything that smells like you. Their noses often lead them to your dirty laundry. Swallowing socks, pantyhose and underwear can create a life-threatening obstruction and a need for surgery. Signs that your dog swallowed something include loss of appetite, lethargy, a day or two of not making a bowel movement and throwing up brown liquid. If you notice these symptoms get your pet to the vet immediately.

The Kitchen

This room can be treacherous because it contains items such as the coffee maker, oven, toaster and garbage cans. Food is also a cause for concern. Dangerous foods for dogs include: fruit pits, chocolate, candy with toxic sweetener Xylitol, caffeine, garlic and onions, macadamia nuts, gum, grapes and raisins. Your trashcan should have a secure lid that your pet cannot remove. Do not leave any cooking ingredients too close to the edge of the counter where your pet can jump and reach them. Pet parents should also make sure they turn off stovetops or heating plates to avoid injury to curious cats.

Image: Igor Normann via Shutterstock