Pet Safety Tips!

I was recently at my vet’s office, Parkview Pet Clinic in Glendale, and saw a flyer printed by the ASPCA which read, “101 things you didn’t know could harm your pet”. I consider myself to be pretty cautious and careful with my two Labs but I was interested to see if I knew of the 101 things.  I learned a lot and wanted to share with you.

The first thing that I learned was: “of the 167,000 poisoning cases handled by the Animal Poison Control Center in 2012, the no. 1 culprit was human medications” (ASPCA).  This seems crazy to me since all of our medications are in the cabinet above our sink in our bathroom.  I have yet to see either of my Labs crawl onto the sink counter and open the cabinet but I also understand that people might leave their medications laying around the house where pets can get to them.

The ASPCA explains that symptoms of poisoning vary but your pet may experience vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy.  If you experience this with your pet you can call 24/7 to the Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.  Be prepared with your pet’s breed, age and potential poison.

Now is the moment of confession…..yes we have had to call this number.  When our Lab puppy was a few months old, she got into some grapes.  One of the kids left a bowl on a coffee table and the puppy grabbed a bunch and ran off to eat them without anyone noticing. (Just for the record I was not home at the time!).  When I returned home and found an empty vine of grapes I panicked.  I knew that grapes are toxic to dogs!  We called the poison control center and they walked us through a process of helping our dog.  They charged us $75 to our credit card but I will share the secret with you for free.  If you discover that your dog has just eaten something toxic you can induce vomiting right away with the attempt to get it out of their system right away.  Give your dog a soft piece of bread and then 1-2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide.  You can stir the peroxide into some peanut butter or yogurt, something that your dog will enjoy eating quickly.  Then head outside and wait for your poor puppy to vomit. She will pace around and feel terrible, not fun to watch. Then she will throw up the toxic food that she shouldn’t have and will feel much better.  It was super fun for us to count the grapes in a puddle of puck!  We had round two with another dog that got into some chocolate.  Having shared this with you, if you have an emergency you can also head to the emergency clinic or vet’s office for professional intervention.  Poisoning is nothing to mess around with.  Sometimes stomach pumping or surgery is needed in these situations.


Now that I have totally scared you and gotten your attention, here are the lists of items to look out for…..

Household Items

Household Items: ibuprofen and aspirin, acetaminophen, cold and flu meds., antidepressants, vitamins, diet pills, anti-cancer drugs, tobacco products, detergents, fabric softener, drain cleaners, oven cleaner sprays, disinfectants, bleach, lime/scale remover, paint thinners, lighter fluid, insecticides, flea and tick products, rodent bait, mothballs, fly bait, lead and liquid potpourri.

Harmful Foods: chocolate, gum and candy, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocados, onions, garlic, salt, tea leaves, coffee, alcoholic beverages, raw yeast dough, spoiled foods and fatty foods.

Objects: balls, sharp objects, coins, buttons, batteries, twist ties, rubber bands, cotton swabs, glass, hair pins, jewelry, nylons, paper clips, plastic wrap, yarn or needles & thread, dental floss, electric cords, wax, socks, and towels.

Harmful Foods

Common Plants: aloe, amaryllis, Andromeda japonica, Asian lily, asparagus fern, Australian nut, autumn crocus, azalea, belladonna, bird of paradise, bittersweet, black locust, branching ivy, buckeye, Buddhist pine, caladium, calla lily, castor bean, ceriman, clematis, cordatum, corn plant, cycads, cyclamen, daffodil, daylily, devil’s ivy, dieffenbachia, dumb cane, Easter lily, elephant ear, emerald fern, English ivy, eucalyptus, ferns, fiddle-leaf-philodendron, Florida beauty, foxglove, glacier ivy, gladiolas, gold dust dracaena, golden pothos, heavenly bamboo, honeysuckle, hurricane plant, hyacinth, hydrangea, iris, Jerusalem Cherry, jimson weed, kalanchoe, lantana, lilies, lily of the valley, lupine, marble queen, morning glory, mother-in-law, mountain laurel, narcissus, needlepoint ivy, nepthysis, nightshade, oleander, panda, peace lily, philodendron, poison hemlock, precatory bean, privet, red emerald, rhododendron, ribbon plant, sago palm, stain pothos, schefflera, striped dracaena, sweetheart ivy, tulip, water hemlock, wisteria, yew and yucca.

Trouble Areas: doors and windows, balconies, bathtubs and since, toilets, washer and dryer and fireplaces. Dogs are more likely to be injured in these areas of your home.  Keep your pets away from these places or watch them closely when they’re near them if you can.

Outside the Home

Outside the home: algae, antifreeze/coolant, fire pit/grill, fences or gates, deck lattice, non-pet safe de-icing salts, compost, gasoline, oil, pesticides, fertilizer, pools and hot tubs.  Make sure that your dogs are safe if they enjoy the outdoors by keeping them leashed and away from these potential dangers.

I know this is a lot of information.  I felt that it was important to write because I have heard of too many stories of pets lost due to poisoning.  My sister-in-law lost her beloved dog due to raisin poisoning.  He got into a container of trail mix and ate a large amount of raisins.  When dogs eat raisins it causes them to go into renal failure.  So very sad.  We have also had our brushes with potential life threatening poisonings but thankfully have not lost a pet.  Let’s all keep our furry ones close and safe!

Maggie Mason, M.S.W.

Mother of two humans and two canines. Author and therapist in “pre-mom life”.

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