March is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month so we thought we would give a reminder of some of the things that can be poisonous and harmful to your fur family. In the normal routine of life, our homes can be full of foods, objects and liquids that can be highly poisonous to our pets.
Here are some of the most common health hazards to dogs and cats. If you have reason to believe your pet has eaten or swallowed any of these, always get medical attention! We would ALWAYS rather have a false alarm than have you “wait and see”. Better to be safe rather than wait to see if they are “ok in the morning”! Keep your veterinarians phone number, (352) 343-0300, and the Pet Poison Hotline number handy, 1-855-764-7661, just in case you ever need them.
- Grapes and raisins – This popular snack for humans can be deadly for pets if ingested. One of the main effects of eating grapes/raisins is kidney failure, so be careful about where and how you store (and dispose of) your grapes and raisins. You just never know when your pet might get curious and try to sample a bite!
- Chocolate – Dark chocolate, pure cocoa, and baking chocolate are the most toxic varieties for pets, due to their high caffeine and theobromine content. Consuming sufficient quantities of this kind of chocolate can result in heart arrhythmia, muscle tremors, and possibly seizures. That being said, we encourage you to keep ALL chocolate away from your pet, regardless of how light or dark it is.
- Xylitol, regularly found in sugar free gum, candy, and mints – Xylitol is extremely dangerous for dogs. While humans can metabolize Xylitol without any trouble, dogs absorb this sugar alcohol very quickly, which leads to abnormally low blood sugar levels (and an increase in their insulin levels). Without timely treatment, this can be fatal. Breath mints (including Tic Tacs), toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamins, and even some peanut butters can also contain Xylitol, so be sure to check labels and be extra careful about where you store and dispose of these items.
- Antifreeze – One of the most dangerous household poisons, antifreeze has a sweet scent and flavor that many pets find attractive. Whether it’s a full bottle or a puddle in the driveway, clean up any spilled antifreeze and store the container in a secure, high-up place where your pet can’t reach.
- Rodenticides (rat poison) – Ingesting rat poison can be deadly for your pet. Allowing them to wander outside your property can increase their chances of coming across these poison pellets, so check the perimeter of your property (if rodents are an existing problem) and keep a very close eye on your pet.
- Over-the-counter medications – If you and/or your family members have over-the-counter (OTC) medications in the house, keep them shut away and out of reach of your pet at all times. If you take your pills in the bathroom, shut the door just in case you drop one. Dogs are extremely quick when they want to grab something! Among the most dangerous OTC drugs are ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Ingesting these can cause damage to the kidneys and possibly be fatal, so always keep your pill bottles in a secure place.
- Fabric softener sheets – Believe it or not, these inconspicuous sheets, while full of chemicals, can be attractive to pets thanks to their pleasant odor. Ingesting one or more can cause poisoning and even choking.
- Batteries – Always dispose of used batteries properly. Batteries contain highly toxic fluid and even simply biting the TV remote or chewing on a battery-powered children’s toy can put your pet at risk for poisoning.
Some household items aren’t necessarily poisonous, but they can cause choking, which is just as dangerous. This includes batteries, strings, plastic bags, small children’s toys, plastic packaging, bottle caps, and more. Dogs are especially notorious for swallowing all manner of objects, but cats are certainly capable of this, too. Regard your pet as you would a toddler and take pains to remove any possible choking hazards from their environment. If necessary, child-proof your cabinets and drawers or keep certain rooms closed off to prevent your pet from entering.