Pet Talk: Household Toxicities
Although we may be extra-cautious when using household cleaners, automotive products, or pest control products in our homes and gardens, it may come as a surprise that the tasty morsel we just dropped while preparing dinner could endanger our best friend.
Chocolate can be found lying around the majority of households, especially during the holidays. Depending on the size and type of chocolate, it can be very dangerous to your pet’s health if consumed. Make sure that your children are aware of this, as they might think they’re treating Fido by sneaking him a piece of chocolate cake under the dinner table. If your dog does get a hold of some, chocolate is absorbed within about an hour, so you should call your veterinarian immediately.
“Additionally, grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs if eaten,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “The exact cause of this is unknown, and the amount that needs to be consumed in order to be poisonous is unknown as well.”
While the toxicity of many food items may surprise you, the assumption that rat poison will only eliminate rats is a misconception. Rat poison can be lethal to both cats and dogs when ingested. If you have pets in your home, it is best to opt for another pest control method.
One of the most common and dangerous household items that is poisonous to pets is antifreeze. “Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is very toxic to animals,” Barr said. “Toxicity can be treated, but only if treatment is instituted quickly.”
Using plants as décor can often liven up the backyard and even the inside of your home. However, there are many plants that cause health problems if eaten by your pets. Sago palms, for instance, can cause severe liver damage and even death if eaten.
“Lilies also have a strange effect when eaten in cats,” said Barr. “It causes kidney failure that is particularly difficult to treat.”
If your pet does ingests any harmful foods or household items, it is best to play it safe and contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center; they can help you determine if your pet needs to be seen by a doctor and if they consumed a toxic dose. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital ER is always available to advise on toxic ingestions.
“Always be aware of the dangers of the things your pets have access to. If they are unsupervised, a safe assumption is that they might eat anything they are in contact with,” said Barr. “Have a discriminatory eye, and try to avoid having those items in your home.”
There is no harm in being extra cautious when dealing with possible toxicities around the house. Be sure to keep these particular items out of your pet’s reach at all times and to call your veterinarian or poison control center immediately if they do come into contact with them.