As the weather warms up, many of us take the opportunity to deep clean, paint, or organize around the house. Many cleaning products, even “natural” ones, can be toxic. The risk for exposure to pets is high. Any cleaner that they come in contact with may be ingested through self-grooming. Pets have a natural curiosity, and unfortunately, they can’t read warning labels!
At the ER, I have treated pets that have eaten household toxins and developed skin irritation, suffered from chemical burns, or developed respiratory difficulty from fumes or airborne irritants. To help prevent this from occurring to your furry friend, use your common sense and follow a few simple tips.
1. Read the labels.
It may seem simple enough, but many of us buy or use products without reading the labels beforehand. Many products will provide safety instructions for us that apply to pets as well. Use that information! Know that bleach, phenols, ammonia, formaldehyde, perchloroethylene, highly acidic or highly alkaline products are all more dangerous for our pets. Also, natural doesn’t always mean safe. Did you know that ingestion of significant amounts of baking soda can cause serious medical issues?
2. Avoid exposure.
Keep your pet in a room far away while you are cleaning. You don’t want your cat or dog walking over a floor wet with cleaning products! Open windows to allow fumes to escape; in particular, oven cleaners can produce fumes that are dangerous. Be aware that birds, cats, and small exotic pets are especially susceptible to respiratory difficulties associated with aerosols and fumes. Even if you can no longer detect an odor, you may need to continue to air out the space a while before the kitchen is safe for your pet.
3. Safe storage.
Toilet bowl cleaner doesn’t sound tasty to me, but your Labrador Retriever may be willing to try anything once! Keep those bottles of cleaners in a closet, a high shelf, or out in the garage where your pet can’t be tempted. If they must be kept in a lower cabinet, install child locks.
If your pet has ingested or had other exposure to a cleaning product, contact ASPCA Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 to determine if treatment is necessary. If you suspect your pet is already showing symptoms due to a cleaning product exposure, see a veterinarian right away and if possible, bring the product with you.
As always, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota is open 24/7/365 to answer any questions you might have about your pet and a possible toxicity! Click here to read Part II for a spring cleaning checklist for your pets!