Springtime often encourages people to spruce up their homes. From fixing things to cleaning and organizing – there’s a lot of work to get done! But before you dive into that to-do list, make sure you are keeping your pets safe! There are many potential pet dangers around the home that pet owners often overlook. So, put your feet up and take a quick break as you review this list of the six most common household items that are hazardous to pets:
1. Household Cleaning Products
Many pets love strong smells and may attempt to lick up cleaning supplies. Pine-Sol is the most toxic, as it contains pine oils. Air fresheners, furniture polish, all-purpose cleaners, and disinfectant cleaners that contain Phenols are also toxic. (Note: Lotions, hair products, dental hygiene products, cold medications, and a variety of other items may also contain Phenols). Most often, cleaning products irritate a pet’s mouth and skin when exposed. Keep in mind that cats are much more likely to be affected than dogs, and sadly, they often experience neurological and cardiovascular symptoms.
2. Soaps & Detergents
Soaps and detergents such as Tide Pods, fabric softeners, and laundry detergents contain alcohols and surfactants that help to lift stains from clothes. If ingested by your pet, they become rapidly absorbed and often cause GI issues such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. They can also irritate the mouth and cause drooling, gagging, and bleeding inside the mouth. It’s very important that you do NOT try to induce vomiting at home with these types of products as they can cause aspiration pneumonia.
3. Gorilla Glue
Gorilla glue and diisocyanate glues are very dangerous to pets. These glues rapidly expand and they become incredibly firm. A large, firm object in your pet’s stomach can cause obstruction which usually requires surgery. Your family veterinarian will recommend x-rays and an ultrasound to confirm the glue’s presence. Signs often include GI upset such as drooling, retching, and abdominal pain.
One small magnet most likely won’t do too much damage, but if your pet swallows multiple magnets or a magnet and a metal object, the magnet’s power of attraction can wreak havoc on your pet’s internal organs. If you suspect your pet swallowed multiple magnets, seek immediate veterinary attention for x-rays.
Mothballs are very toxic to pets because they are typically made of naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene (with naphthalene being the more toxic of the two). These toxins can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. If your pet is exposed, almost all organ systems can be affected including the eyes, skin, cardiovascular system, central nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract. Common signs include nausea, vomiting, drooling, abdominal pain, depression, trembling, tremors, walking “drunk”, seizures, pale gums, rapid breathing, and respiratory distress. These signs may be visible within minutes to hours.
6. Artificial Scents & Essential Oils
We recently discussed the dangers of essential oils in a previous blog post. Beware that other artificial scents and sprays are also toxic to your pets. Many of the types of products are irritating if your pet’s eyes, skin, and mouth are directly exposed. The strong fumes often cause respiratory distress due to inflammation if inhaled – this is especially dangerous for pet birds. Seek immediate veterinary attention if your aerosolized scent has holes on it or if you suspect your pet was accidentally directly exposed!
Now, we’d hate to add on to your to-do list, but we highly encourage you moving any of these hazardous items to a secure location out of your pet’s reach! If your pet does get into any of these items or if you have any concerns, contact your family veterinarian. In the event that you experience a pet emergency and your family veterinarian is unavailable, contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 or your local animal emergency hospital.
Written by Jo Daney, DVM