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Keeping Your Pet Out of Harm’s Way

By Kathy Edstrom

 

Spring is here which means many folks will be doing their annual spring cleaning and garden preparations. This usually requires the use of many chemical cleaners and lawn and garden pesticides.

The Christian holiday Easter is also fast approaching. This means there will be plenty of goodies around to tantalize people and pets of all ages. Even though these holiday treats are enjoyable to people, many of them can cause severe illness and even death in animals.

The easiest way to avoid having a pet get into these toxic items is to place the items in an area that is not easily accessible to your pet.With the Easter basket, place it at a level where your pet cannot reach it. If you have a cat that jumps on the counters, put the basket in a cabinet where the cat cannot get to it.

There are many items that can cause illness and even death in a pet. The list below is common items that all of us have in our home at one time or another. According to the ASPCA Poison Control Center, these items are poisonous in pets.

* One acetaminophen tablet can kill a cat. All medications should be kept away from pets AND children. Acetaminophen is particularly dangerous to cats, but is known to cause liver and blood cell problems in dogs and cats.

* Macadamia nuts have been known to cause paralysis in the rear legs of dogs; however the paralysis is not permanent.

* Onions can cause anemia. No form of onion should be fed to dogs.

* Poinsettias used to be considered a lethal plant, but in actuality, Lilies are the more poisonous plant. If a cat ingests a Lily it can cause the kidney to shut down and be fatal for the feline. Vomiting, in appetence, lethargy, and kidney failure are major symptoms. Cats that eat the leaves or flowers can develop excessive drooling, anorexia, depression, acute renal failure and death. Cats are only the species known to be affected.

* Bathroom cleaners such as tile cleaners and disinfectants can cause an animal to become quite ill. After using these products, keep the animal away from the area that was cleaned. Some pets will lick the shower and tub after they have been cleaned. Keep the animal away while you are cleaning, then close off the area that was cleaned until you are sure the chemical residue is gone.

* This is also the time of year when pets are being tested for heartworms, fleas and ticks. There are many products on the market to help with keeping your furry friend from developing heartworms, or having problems with fleas and ticks. However, before you select a product, check with your veterinarian before you use any products on your pet. Just because a flea and tick treatment is safe for dogs does not mean that treatment is safe for cats too. Cats have suffered seizures from having flea and tick products meant for canines, used on cats.

* Household cleaners contain bleach that can cause upset stomach, drooling, vomiting and/or diarrhea when ingested. Some may even cause burns to the mouth and respiratory tract.

* Grapes and raisins when ingested have been associated with acute renal failure in dogs. Most dogs will initially start with vomiting and there will be a noticeable increase in water intake. Diarrhea then develops and renal failure or death can occur.

* Rodent poisons cause internal bleeding, weakness, pale gums, difficulty breathing and death. Seizures and renal failure are also effects of poison ingestion.

* Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine. Depending on the amount ingested and the size of the dog, it can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, panting, increased heart rate, tremors and coma.

* Bread dough rises and expands in the stomach and can cause obstruction or even rupture the stomach wall.

* Mothballs may cause vomiting, lethargy, changes in the red blood cell, seizures and even death.

* Snail or slug bait, mole and gopher bait, and fly baits are all very harmful products to pets. When dogs ingest these products they can develop severe shaking, unsteadiness, convulsions and even death.

* The garage is another danger zone. Motor oil and gasoline when ingested can cause vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, and upper respiratory problems.

* Antifreeze, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid cause weakness, depression, renal failure (even in small doses) and death.

* Fertilizers for lawn and garden can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort.

According to the ASPCA, their recommendation is to have a poison safety kit that includes:

  • 3% Hydrogen peroxide
  • Can of soft cat or dog food
  • Turkey baster
  • Saline eye solution to flush out eye contaminants
  • Artificial tear gel to lubricate eyes after flushing
  • Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid for the animal after skin contamination
  • Rubber gloves
  • Forceps to remove stingers and porcupine quills
  • Muzzle (for handler safety)
  • Pet carrier

Most of all use common sense. Animals don’t know what is harmful to them. It is our responsibility to keep our pets out of harm’s way. Always keep medications, cleaning products and toxic chemicals out of reach of pets and children.

Here’s to a happy and safe spring cleaning!

For more information on how to keep your pet safe, visit the ASPCA website at www.aspca.org (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

Published April 2003.