As you break out the cleaning chemicals to tackle spring cleaning, and fertilizers to add green growth to your lawn, your pet has increased accessibility to harmful household products. To help raise awareness of dangerous pet toxins in the home, March has been designated as Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month. Understanding what poisons are hiding in your home, garage, and garden is the first step to keeping your pet safe. Some of them may be common knowledge and obvious, while others you may not have considered before. 

In the medicine cabinet

One of the most dangerous areas in your home is your medicine cabinet. An overdose can occur with any medication, if your pet accidentally ingests a bottle, or eats pills dropped on the floor, but some medications can kill your pet. For example, Tylenol is highly toxic to cats, who should never be given this medication. Some of the most common toxins in your medicine cabinet include:

  • Over-the-counter medications — Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, and gastrointestinal medications top the list of medications most frequently given to pets. While some of these medications, such as antihistamines, may be given to your pet, the dose for pets is much different than for people. Avoid medicating your pet with any over-the-counter products unless you speak first with a Leawood Plaza Animal Hospital veterinarian.
  • Human prescription medications — Most human prescription toxin cases are accidental, such as when a pet owner drops a pill on the floor, but occasionally people share medication with their pets. Although you and your pet may be hypothyroid, never share prescription medication, as the dose is vastly different.
  • Veterinary prescriptions — Veterinary medications can be harmful to your pet, since many of these products, which are designed to be highly palatable, will entice your furry pal to eat them. Ensure you keep the chewy heartworm “treat” that your dog loves well out of reach, to prevent an accidental overdose. Other toxicity cases occur when the wrong pet is given medication, such as a cat receiving a canine flea treatment. Before medicating any of your pets, carefully check the product and the directions for safety.
  • Vitamins and supplements — While vitamins and supplements seem benign, some natural products can interfere with your pet’s medication, or shouldn’t be given at all. Keep in mind that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so before starting your pet on a supplement for anxiety, or joint or skin health, contact us.

In the closet

Most pets are smart enough to avoid toxins hidden away in the closet or under the sink after getting a whiff of the harsh chemical fumes, but accidents can happen. Common household toxins include:

  • Cleaning supplies — Many cleaning products are based on toxic chemicals that can harm your pet if ingested. While your pet will hopefully avoid lapping up a spilled bleach puddle, some floor cleaners can be hazardous if your pet walks across the wet floor and then licks her paws. To avoid toxin exposure, follow the product directions for dilution, and keep your pet away from cleaners until the area is dry.
  • Craft supplies — Paint and glue are two items that can create a problem for your pet, especially if she tries to help during a craft project or home renovation.

In the garage

If your pet wanders out to the garage while you putter around, she may come in contact with the following poisonous substances:

  • Rodenticides — Depending on the rodenticide type, your pet may succumb to bleeding issues, seizures, or heart failure. If you have a rodent problem, keep rodenticides in an inaccessible location.
  • Insecticides — Although insecticides are meant to harm much smaller species, they can still poison your pet. Wasp spray, ant killers, and other insecticides contain toxic ingredients that are better kept far away from your furry pal.
  • Antifreeze — Antifreeze toxicity is still an issue in pets, despite the advent of much safer propylene glycol. Clean up any spills immediately, or simply keep your pet out of the garage as you change your vehicle’s antifreeze.

In the garden

Although having an extra paw to help with pulling weeds in the garden would be nice, your pet can be exposed to toxins amid the blooms, including:

  • Plants — Many plants have varying levels of toxicity for pets. For example, lilies are highly toxic to cats, and the pollen can lead to kidney failure. Before filling your garden with bright flowers, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants.
  • Mulch — Mulch itself can pose a choking hazard or cause an intestinal obstruction if ingested, but cocoa mulch can also harm your dog. The sweet, chocolatey scent may attract your pooch, but cocoa mulch contains the same toxic ingredients as chocolate, and can lead to hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, or seizures.
  • Fertilizer with herbicide — Many fertilizers are combined with an herbicide product to help your lawn look beautiful, but this combination of chemicals poses a toxic hazard to your pet. Phosphorus, nitrogen, and iron compounds in fertilizers are toxic when ingested in large amounts, and can lead to vomiting, difficulty breathing, oral burns, stomach ulcers, and organ damage.

If you suspect your pet has come in contact with a toxic substance, contact us, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.