You try hard to protect your pet by keeping them up to date on their vaccinations, bringing them in for their regular wellness examinations, and giving year-round flea and tick prevention. But, as good as your intentions may be as a pet owner, trouble still could be lurking in your home, garage, or garden. Each year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) receives thousands of phone calls from well-meaning, worried pet owners about their pet’s potential toxin exposure. Keep your pets safe by poison-proofing your home with our tips below, and familiarizing yourself with common pet toxins.

Pets in the kitchen

It’s not surprising that pets like to hang in the kitchen. Whether they’re hoping to snag a sample of your lunch, scrounging for crumbs on the floor, or surfing the counters for treats, most pets love to eat—and many aren’t picky. But, while you may be tempted to give them a taste here and there, you must remember that many people-safe foods can seriously harm dogs and cats. Some important foods to avoid include chocolate, especially dark or baking chocolate, xylitol, grapes, meat bones, garlic, onions, and yeast dough. If in doubt, steer clear of offering any human food to your pet. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Pets and backpacks and purses

The most diligent people are sometimes guilty of forgetting to hang up their bags or purses, leaving them available for Fido or Fluffy to rummage through—if you typically carry medications in your personal belongings, your pets could be in big trouble. In fact, the top offenders on the ASPCA APCC’s top pet toxins list over the past few years have been human over-the-counter and prescription medications. From pain relievers, to cold medicines, to vitamins, to antidepressants, pets find plastic drug bottles or flavored tablets or lozenges that they see as enticing toys or treats, potentially putting them in grave danger. Other harmful items in bags and purses include xylitol-containing sugar-free gums, hand sanitizers, and lotions. 

Pets in the closet

Hallway and bathroom closets are popular storage areas for a myriad of potentially toxic items, such as medicines and cleaning supplies (e.g., bleach, ammonia-containing products). Many people who have problems with mice or rats in their home keep rodenticides in closets. Rodenticide products are especially dangerous to pets, as many products are formulated with an alluring scent that appeals not only to small rodents, but also dogs and cats. 

Pets in the garage

Many of us use the garage for storing strong chemicals and substances we’d rather not keep in our home, such as paints, glues, melting salts, and antifreeze. While many of these products don’t normally appeal to pets, a particularly mischievous or bored furry friend may get into danger if left to their own devices in the garage. Antifreeze (i.e., ethylene glycol) can be particularly dangerous for pets because of its sweet scent, enticing taste, and extreme potency. Only a tiny amount can lead to big problems in pets, with signs like vomiting, incoordination, and excessive urination that can eventually lead to kidney failure, or death. 

Pets in the yard or garden

If your pet spends time outdoors, you should do a little pet-proofing before allowing them to roam free on your lawn and in your garden. Pets can play on lawns or in gardens that have been fertilized, sprayed with pesticides, and seeded, or where garden additives have been used, so long as you choose pet-safe products. The problem lies in curious pets who help themselves to bags of fertilizer or chew bottles of repellents, which can lead to toxic situations. Taking inventory of your garden trees, shrubs, and plants is also a good idea, as many can be poisonous to dogs and cats. If you have lilies, azaleas, sago palms, or tulips, you’ll need to monitor your pets while outdoors, or consider transplanting them to a safer area that your pet cannot access. For a full list of potentially poisonous plants, click here

At Wales Animal Clinic, we are dedicated to your pet’s safety and wellbeing. If you are ever worried about a potential pet toxin exposure, never hesitate to seek veterinary help. Contact us during business hours, or call the APCC, whose hotline is available to pet owners 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.