Although rodent poisons and insecticides are among the most common sources of pet poisoning, many common household items can also be harmful to your pets. Here are some tips to help protect your best friend:
- Leftovers such as chicken bones can easily shatter and choke a cat or dog. Other foods to keep away from pets include: onions and onion powder; garlic and chives; grapes and raisins; alcoholic beverages; coffee grounds and beans; salt; walnuts and macadamia nuts; avocados (toxic to birds, rabbits, horses, cattle, and dairy goats); and moldy food.
- Chocolate can be harmful to dogs, cats, and ferrets – even in tiny amounts. Cocoa powder is the most harmful followed by baking chocolate, dark chocolate, and finally milk chocolate.
- Household plants. Many poisonous plants include azaleas, geraniums, dieffenbachia, lilies, mistletoe, philodendron, African violets, and poinsettia. This is just a small list of plants. For a complete list you can contact the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) at 1.800.548.2423.
- Antifreeze has a sweet taste that attracts animals, but it is very deadly! As little as one teaspoon can kill a cat and one tablespoon can kill a dog. Time is of the essence when it comes to treating antifreeze poisoning.
- De-icing salts, used to melt snow and ice, will irritate paws, and can be poisonous if licked off. Paws should be washed and dried as soon as the animal comes in from the snow. Other options include doggie boots or making your cat an indoor only pet.
- Lawn and garden chemicals, such as fertilizer and plant food, can be fatal to pets, and are easily accessible if a pet is left in the yard unsupervised.
- Cedar and other soft wood shavings including pine, emit fumes that may be dangerous to small mammals like hamsters and gerbils.
- Human medications (including aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen), cold medicine, anti-depressants, vitamins, and diet pills can be toxic to animals. Always keep medicine containers away from pets who could chew through them, and pick up any dropped pills.
- String, yarn, rubber bands, and even dental floss are easy for pets to swallow, and can cause intestinal blockage or possible strangulation.
- Toys with removable parts (such as squeaky toys and stuffed animals with plastic eyes) can pose a choking hazard to animals. Take the same precautions you would with children.
- Xylitol is a sugar substitute that can be found in many products, from chewing gum to dental care products. While it is perfectly safe for humans it can be fatal if ingested by animals. It causes hyperglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar) and it does not take much to kill your pet.
If you believe your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian immediately. You may also contact Poison Control at 1-800-492-2414. Signs of poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, lack of coordination, and fever.