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|Dog Tip: Household Hazards, Poisons and Safety|
Poison Alert Updates:
* Lawn chemicals-cancer link: evidence shows that lawn chemicals are linked to development of cancer such as lymphosarcoma in dogs. To receive a report on lawn, garden and household chemicals hazardous to dogs, other pets and children, contact the Rachel Carson Council Inc., P.O. Box 10779, Silver Spring MD 20914.
* Sugar-free candy and gum may be toxic to animal companions: according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), xylitol, a sweetener found in certain sugar-free chewing gum, candies and other products, can potentially cause serious, even life-threatening problems for pets. Xylitol is a white crystalline substance used as a sugar substitute.
Based on data collected from the 40-plus related cases the center has managed since last July, canines who ingest significant amounts of gum or candy solely or largely containing xylitol may develop a sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. "These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion," says Dr. Eric Dunayer, consulting veterinarian for the APCC. "Therefore, it is important that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately." Be especially diligent about keeping candy, gum or other foods containing xylitol out of animals' reach.
* Medications: always put them out of reach of pets and children. For example, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, pseudoephedrine - an ingredient commonly found in certain cold, allergy and sinus medications - can be extremely dangerous to companion animals. It does not take as much of the drug to cause a serious problem. As little as one tablet containing 30 milligrams of pseudoephedrine could produce clinical signs in a 20-pound dog, including nervousness, hyperactivity and elevated heart rate; a dose of only three 30-milligram tablets could be lethal to a dog that size. Avoid poisoning two ways:
1. Never give your animal any medication without first talking to your pet's veterinarian.
2. Store all medications in a secure cabinet well out of the reach of animals. And remember: a pet can easily chew open even childproof containers.
3. Keep handbags, totes and other bags out of reach, particularly if you carry any medications in them.
* Antifreeze and bittering agents: in 2004, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center issued a notice that it is currently unaware of any well-controlled published scientific research demonstrating that dogs can be consistently protected from antifreeze poisoning through the addition of denatonium benzoate as a bittering agent added to antifreeze. While such products may be less toxic, there is no scientific proof that they are in fact safe. Be sure to see the antifreeze section later in this tipsheet.
* Continuous-cleaning toilet products: toxic reactions have been reported. See the toilet-related tip in the household dangers section below.
* Salmon warning: avoid feeding pets raw, unfrozen salmon, wild-caught or farmed. Salmon poisoning may also be caused by feeding raw hatchery trout, although it's rare. This disease is caused by a rickettsia and can be fatal if untreated. For more information: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/ClientED/salmon.asp
* Chocolate, cocoa and bread dough: these are some of the common food products highly toxic to pets.
For more on food safety, see the Dog Tipsheet on the subject, which is listed near the end of this guide.
Selected Safety Alerts:
* Dogproofing is not a one-time activity: from time to time, survey your home and yard for safety. Check doors, gates and fencing on a regular basis. Also remember to give your pets their own toys and safe chews, so they will be less inclined to chew on unsafe items.
* Leash strangulation: do not leash a dog by or on stairs, or else she might get strangled.
* Repair doors: a door that can slam shut on pups, dogs and children can lead to serious injury.
* Dryer and other fire hazards: don't leave the clothes dryer running, candles burning, or any other potential hazard unchecked when there is no responsible adult home to monitor. Your pets and any children won't be able to sense or escape trouble.
* Fireplace safety: install and use a sturdy glass door screen. Establish a barrier between the dog and your fireplace or wood stove.
* High-jumping hazards: repeated over time, jumping from high vans or heights can hurt your dog's back.
More Essential Ways to Safeguard Animals from Household Dangers:
* It is important to read all product labels, including those for new and improved formulas of products you've used before. For example, some powerful cleaning products have added lye, which should not be used in any pet areas.
* Remember that animals and humans can have reactions to most any commercial product, and that a crawling child or a pet could pick up residue off a floor, then ingest it when licking hands or paws.
* Many people are reducing their use of commercial cleaning products. Instead, they use commonly available, simple ingredients often recommended in Hints from Heloise, including water, baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, club soda and cornstarch. Properly used and combined, these products can clean just about anything. In addition, the natural cleaning alternatives as well as pet mess-specific products such as Simple Solution typically work quite effectively for a wide range of cleaning needs. Some folks also keep ammonia and bleach in their arsenal. Never mix ammonia and bleach, since that combination is dangerously toxic.
* Many people, including those who do not have pets or children, are curtailing use of pesticides and other garden chemicals in favor of the many nontoxic alternatives now available. The internet is a great resource for finding nontoxic and less toxic alternatives and better garden/lawn care techniques.
* Do not let pets into areas where cleaners, pesticides, rodent traps and other potentially toxic items are used or stored. Warning: some dogs can open cabinet doors, so childproof latches may be needed...or store the hazardous items in higher cabinets.
* Close the doors of dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers and other appliances and cabinets.
* When using a self-cleaning oven for the first couple of times, protect pets from fumes by keeping them far away from the kitchen.
* Make sure your dog can't get into waste baskets and trash cans.
* Drinking water from toilets can upset the gastrointestinal tract. Tablets, continuous-cleaning products and other cleaning agents that are present in the water can lead to vomiting, nausea and much worse. Prevention, as always, is best. Keep toilet lids down if you and your family members do not always close the bathroom and powder room doors.
And since pets drink from toilets only when they are thirsty, keep their water bowls filled with clean water and make sure they have easy access to the bowl. Some people keep water bowls in several places in their homes.
If your dog has ingested toilet water but seems okay, you can dilute any effects by feeding him a mixture of milk and water. Go to the vet if the animal seems ill.
* Another reason to keep bathroom doors closed: puppies, dogs and cats have gotten hurt slipping down tub edges, and have suffered seriously burns from accidentally turning on faucets. Drowning is also possible.
* Do not give pets access to garages or sheds, or to basements in which toxins and other dangers may be present.
* Keep your dogs away from lawns and other areas recently treated with fertilizer, chemicals and pesticides.
* Store automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze in areas that are inaccessible to pets. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than one tablespoon can be lethal to a 20-pound dog.
Please take these steps to protect animals from antifreeze poisoning:
1. Regardless of the type of antifreeze used, keep it in a childproof container and (since animals can chew through many containers) keep the containers out of reach of animals.
2. Repair any leaking vehicle hoses.
3. Make sure pets are indoors when you change or add antifreeze and other automotive products.
4. Wipe up spills without delay to protect pets.
5. Do not drain radiators into ditches or storm drains.
6. To store used antifreeze before disposal, put it into a clearly labeled, sealed container. Recycle or dispose of it at a garage with appropriate facilities for disposing of antifreeze. Check with your local government for your local household hazardous waste collection days and sites.
7. If your pet returns from outside covered with an unknown substance, wash it off immediately.
8. Auto window washing fluids and products to prevent freezing in plumbing can also contain ethylene glycol. Check the ingredients, and if it contains EG, treat it the same as antifreeze.
9. Switch to less-toxic propylene glycol-formulated antifreeze, but still take the steps above.
10. Persuade pet owners never to leave pets in garages and workshops.
* Before buying a flea product, consult your veterinarian, especially when treating a sick, injured or pregnant pet.
* Before using any product on your pet or in your home, always read the label and follow the directions.
* If a product is designed only for dogs, it should not be used on cats, and vice versa. If you're unsure of how to use a product properly, contact the manufacturer and your veterinarian for instructions.
* Cords and plugs can look like chew toys to pets. Tape down or cover cords to help avoid shocks, burns or other serious injuries. Unplug lights when you are not home.
* Power strips and outlets: if you have a puppy or overly curious or clumsy pet, cover all open outlet holes so pets cannot stick claws or tongues in them.
* You can keep dogs from gnawing electrical wires if the wires are enclosed in metal braided sleeving, which is available from various companies.
* To repel dogs from household items from wood molding to cushions to electrical cords, make them undesirable. To do this, you can coat them with hair spray or Bitter Apple. First, coat a cotton swab and have the dog approach it. The swab will taste bad when the dog licks it. Then liberally spray the hair spray on items, including places the dog chewed before. The spray's smell and taste will repel the dog.
* Floor vents. Pets can get their tags or paws caught in floor vents. Here is a solution using the nylon netting found in pot scrubber balls. Wrap two or three layers of netting over the top of the vent, around the sides and ends, and fasten the vent down tight. Even if your dog catches a nail in it, that's better than his face being pinned down against a hot vent. The netting also works over fan covers where fingers or tails can poke through.
* Use fireplace screens to avoid burns.
* Wheelchairs. If a household member or guest has a wheelchair, be watchful. Dogs and other pets have gotten caught and hurt in the wheel spokes whether or not the chair is in use. When not in use, store wheelchairs in a room or closet that the dog cannot access.
* If you put your dog in a wire crate, minimize the changes of his dog tags and collar getting caught in the wire bars. Dogs have choked this way. To reduce the risk, make sure you have a properly fitted floor of some sort that extends to all edges of the wire crate bottom, such as a crate pan and dog bedding. Also make sure the collar is fitted well and that the tags don't hang down too far. You can also remove the collar before crating the dog, but (1) don't leave the collar on top of the crate enabling the dog to reach and chew it, and (2) do be sure to put the collar back on immediately upon releasing the dog from the crate. You want to make sure your pet wears current I.D. at all times in case he gets loose outside the home.
* For front and back doors, check latches and doorknobs from time to time and keep in good repair. Check gates and fences outside while you're at it.
* If your dog is excitable or has a high prey drive, he can break through a plate glass window or tear through a screen door to chase wild animals, birds, another dog, the mail carrier, etc. So it's best to close the solid entrance doors and sliding glass doors...and don't leave windows open when you're not home. In addition, if you have low-lying windows, you could block the dog's access to those windows when you're not present to supervise.
* To keep pets from falling through steps that are open in the back, you can install shower curtain rods to block the opening by twisting the rods until they fit tight.
* To keep pets from falling from heights after squeezing through indoor or outdoor railing, line the railings with mesh.
* Block access to window wells near sub-ground level basements and sunken cellar entrances so that dogs don't fall in and get stuck or injured.
* Block access to indoor/outdoor heating and air conditioning components and power supply lines to prevent injury and electrocution. Dogs have been electrocuted when scratching, chewing or even touching such power lines.
* Big risks come with using doggie doors. It's dangerous to allow pets to go outside when you're not there to supervise. You might return home to find an injured or missing pet, or a liability claim from a neighbor. Plus wild animals have been known to enter homes through pet doors. If you do have a doggie door, please block access whenever you are not home to supervise.
* Invisible and electric fences also are risky, since power interruptions render them useless. Other drawbacks: unwanted animals and people can enter the "fenced" area...and highly motivated dogs won't be deterred from chasing a cat, mail carrier, etc.
* If you have a pool, block the pet's access. Completely cover the pool with a sturdy cover when not in use. Furthermore, install graded steps out of the pool, since a dog can't climb a ladder. Train your dog how to get out of the pool in case an accident happens.
* Keep ornaments, decorations and candles far out of reach of pets. Ingestion of any ornament, which might look like a toy to pets, can result in life-threatening emergencies. Even ornaments made from dried food can lead to ailments. And shards from broken glass ornaments can injure paws.
* Avoid toxic decorations. Bubbling lights contain fluid that can be inhaled or ingested, snow sprays and snow flock can cause reactions when inhaled, styrofoam poses a choking hazard, tinsel can cause choking and intestinal obstruction, and water in snow scenes may contain toxic organisms such as Salmonella. Choose safer decorations for homes with pets and children.
* Dispose of candy wrappers, aluminum foil pieces, wrapping and ribbons before pets can choke on them.
* If your pet ingests glass, broken plastic, staples or other small, sharp objects, call your veterinarian.
In the meantime, you can give your dog supplemental fiber in the form of whole wheat or other high-fiber bread, canned pumpkin or Metamucil, any of which can help bulk up the stools the help the foreign material pass through the dog s digestive system. Dosages depend on the size of the dog. For Metamusil, try a teaspoon for a small dog, a tablespoon for a big dog. For pumpkin, feed one-quarter to two-thirds of a cup. Some folks recommend feeding the dog cotton balls to help pass the foreign objects, but others in the veterinary field caution against this since cotton balls can compound the problem.
* Dogs have gotten injured from power and manual tools. So don't allow pets in areas in which work is being done, and put all tools away when not in use. The same goes for garden tools (trip hazards, prongs can puncture skin or eyes, can topple on to the animal), which have caused injuries to people as well as pets.
* Nicotine is bad for animals too. Tobacco products can even be fatal to canines, felines and birds if ingested. Signs of nicotine poisoning often develop within 15 to 45 minutes, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Signs can include excitation, salivation, panting, vomiting and diarrhea. Advanced signs include muscle weakness, twitching, depression, collapse, coma, increased heart rate and cardiac arrest; death can occur secondary to respiratory paralysis. So keep cigarettes, cigars nicotine patches and nicotine gum out of your pet's reach. Butts contain plenty of nicotine, so dump ashtrays frequently.
* Learn more about potentially hazardous everyday products and safer alternatives by doing easy internet searches.
* Keep a pet first aid/emergency kit accessible in your home and in your car.
Potential Hazards Checklist:
Keep the following items out of pets' reach to avoid the risk of choking, poisoning or injury. Advice in this tipsheet also can help parents of young children avoid accidents and injuries.
* Washcloths and dishrags. Dogs have swallowed them with disastrous consequences.
* Toilet cleaning liquids, powders and tablets
* Electrical cords
* Decorations and ornaments
* Some common houseplants
* Fires in fireplaces and wood stoves. Screen them off.
* Antifreeze (appealing to pets; deadly)
* Pesticides and insecticides
* Azaleas, oleander, castor beans, sago palms and yew are among plants that can be fatal if ingested. Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, lilies and pine needles are also dangerous. See the web links at the end for lists of potentially toxic indoor and outdoor plants.
* Animals with toxic bites, including spiders, ticks, snakes, toads, scorpions
Lead and Lead Poisoning:
Like young children, pets are highly vulnerable to the toxic chips and dust from lead paint found in many older homes. Other possible sources of lead in the house include drapery weights, batteries, door grease, cheap jewelry, linoleum, and some old and imported children's toys.
The warning signals of lead poisoning include: lethargy and fatigue, seizures, pressing his head against a wall or floor, vomiting, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, uncoordination, major constipation, loss of vision and frantic behavior. These can also be signs of other types of poisoning. Immediately contact your vet upon noticing such signs. If you suspect lead poisoning, have your vet conduct a blood test. X-rays can show whether the animal swallowed an object.
Recent reports about water in Washington, D.C. indicate that drinking water rarely leads to lead poisoning. However, young animals tend to absorb such toxic substances more quickly in their developing bodies. If there are reports of lead or other toxic substances in your household water, the safest route is to give pets bottled or filtered water.
Another good practice is to never use water from the hot water tap for drinking. Also, run the cold water a few seconds before filling the water bowl. Unfortunately, this does waste water, which is a limited resource. Again, bottled or filtered water may be the best choice all-around.
Protecting Pets When You Have Visitors, New Additions or Special Events in Your Home:
* Holiday guests, parties and other events can be very stressful and even frightening to pets. It can also trigger illness and intestinal upset. Make sure pets have a safe place to retreat in your house.
* Make sure visitors know not to let pets escape out the door. Monitor all doorways closely, and make sure pets are wearing current I.D. in case they escape out a door when visitors come and go.
* When having visitors or when there is any change or disruption in everyday household routine (wedding planning, a new baby, holiday preparation, a new person or pet moving into the household), reduce pet stress levels by keeping feeding and exercise on a regular schedule.
* When pets are stressed by household activity, changes in the home or during travel, they may need more water. Dogs typically pant more when they feel stressed. So always keep fresh water available for them to drink.
* Never leave dogs and children alone together. Always have an experienced adult supervise, no matter how well behaved the dog is. Anything can happen, especially with kids.
* Take precautions when there's a frail or ill person in your house. Even a sweet, friendly dog can injure a vulnerable person by jumping up on the person, possibly scratching, hurting or knocking over the person. Weak, visually disabled and elderly folks have tripped over pets and suffered injuries as a result.
* It's best not to have unfamiliar pets visit during the holidays or special events because of the added stress for people and pets...and reduced ability of preoccupied people to supervise pets. However, if your visitors are bringing pets...or you are bringing your dog home for the holidays...introduce resident and guest pets on neutral ground. Have treats available to reward positive behaviors and interactions; use verbal praise as well. Be prepared to remove your animal if there is any chance of a fight. Don't leave newly introduced animals together indoors or in a yard unless supervised by at least one very experienced and adult dog owner. Find more tips on pet introductions at http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/dog_tips.php
* Do not leave dogs outside unattended. If in an unfenced area, always use a leash. For the safety of pets and people in vehicles, restrain the dog with a pet seat belt, pet barrier, or in a crate. If you have to stop suddenly, a loose pet could fly into the windshield or into the driver or passengers, causing injury. And to keep cats safe, keep them indoors.
* Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower essence available in most health food stores, is a natural stress reliever that many folks keep on hand at home and in travel kits. It can often help both people and animals recover from injury, fright, illness, travel fatigue, chocolate ingestion and irritation. Put a few drops in the dogs water bowl or portable water container. For stressed or injured animals, rub a drop on their ear or put a drop on the towel in their crate or carrier. Flower essences are free of harmful effects and can be used along with conventional medicines. Another safe, nontoxic Rescue Remedy-like product is Animal Emergency Trauma Solution, available from www.greenhopeessences.com, where you can also get Flee Free to combat fleas nontoxically. Other flower essence sources include anaflora.com and perelandra-ltd.com.
If You Suspect Your Pet Has Ingested Poison or Is Seriously Injured:
Take action without delay - but do not panic.
Toxic substances can case salivation, tearing, skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and neurological signs such as tremors, seizures, disorientation and ataxia (stumbling). Take action immediately if you observe any of these signs.
* Call your veterinarian, or a 24-hour emergency hotline such as
* ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) 1-888-426-4435 or 1-888-4-ANI-HELP
* National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPPC) 1-900-680-0000 or 1-800-548-2423
Stay calm. Be ready to provide your name, address and phone number; information concerning the poison your pet was exposed to, such as the amount ingested, if known, and the time since exposure; your pet's species, breed, age, sex and weight; and the symptoms your pet is experiencing.
If your pet is having seizures, unconscious or losing consciousness, or having difficulty breathing, or if you suspect antifreeze or chemical ingestion, get to your veterinarian or closest emergency animal hospital immediately.
Induce vomiting ONLY if the dog ingested non-caustic or non-corrosive material, such as human medications, antifreeze or rat poison. A three percent hydrogen peroxide solution can be used to induce. Do not use salt. Hydrogen peroxide fizzles in the stomach and triggers an upset; it is suggested to use one teaspoon per 5 pounds to a maximum of 3 to 4 tablespoons.
See the important First Aid Tipsheet at http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_FirstAid.php
1. Keep pets on leash when outside. A moment of risk can lead to a lifetime of regret. Even if you think your dog will listen to you, dogs are driven by instinct. Even the most obedient dogs will be tempted to chase a squirrel, even across a busy street. Off-leash dogs also get in fights with another animal and have injured passersby. It's easy, smart and (in most places) the law to use a leash when you're not in a fully fenced, safe area.
2. Don't leave dogs outside unattended. In the time it takes to drive to the store, someone could taunt, hurt or steal your dog. A passing child could let your dog out, or stick a hand through the fence and provoke a bite incident. And many dogs can dig or climb out of a yard faster than you may think. Even those who don't try to escape can aggravate neighbors with their barking. Barking is one of the most frequent complaints called into animal control departments. Be a good neighbor and dog guardian: keep your dog indoors when you're not home.
3. Keep cats indoors. Outdoors, cats can pick up illnesses such as FIV from other cats outdoors. They can get hurt by another animals, be abused by troubled people, or get hit by cars. No wonder indoor cats live an average three times longer than cats allowed outdoors. Cats can safely enjoy freedom indoors with interesting toys, scratching posts and climbing areas. You can even create a screened porch for your felines. If you have questions about housetraining and litter box usage, see the free information for pet owners in the Resources section at www.paw-rescue.org
4. Transport pets with care. Secure cats in a cat carrier. Secure dogs with a dog safety belt that attaches to your car's seat belts, or use a folding crate. This makes it safer for pets and the driver; you don't want your pet to turn into a flying projectile if the driver has to hit the brakes. And don't leave a pet in a car alone. Even with the windows cracked, and even on a mild day, a car can heat up like an oven. Sadly, countless pets get sick and suffocate in cars due to owner negligence. Another tip: don't let pets stick their heads out car windows. This can lead to eye and ear injuries as well as escapes.
5. Take your pet to the veterinarian for check-ups. Skipping one year for an animal is equivalent to skipping seven years for a human. Prevention is the key to better health. Furthermore, dogs need to be on heartworm preventative pills so that they can avoid this deadly, costly-to-treat mosquito-transmitted disease.
6. Spay and neuter pets. Not only is this one way you can help reverse the tragedies of pet overpopulation and the euthanization of thousands of adoptable animals each year in our local shelters, but it's also a safety measure for your own pet. Medical studies confirm that altered dogs and cats are much less prone to several debilitating and deadly diseases, from prostate cancer to mammary tumors. In addition, neutered dogs are much less likely to roam, get into fights, and bite people compared to intact dogs.
7. Treat and raise your pet properly. Socialize him or her to other people and (especially for dogs) to other animals and places, so that the pet will learn how to respond properly and without fear.
8. Provide your dog or cat with a variety of safe toys - and keep your home and yard hazard-free. Remove objects and plants that can be harmful to pets. Put medications and foods out of reach. Learn what's toxic to animals. Outdoors, don't let them walk on chemically treated lawns, or else they can incur paw burns as well as be poisoned when licking their paws or grass. Put electrical cords out of reach. Keep pets out of garages, workshops and other dangerous places. And remember that pet-killing antifreeze has a taste that animals find appealing.
9. Make sure your pet gets plenty of physical and mental stimulation each day. An underexercised or bored animal is more likely to get into trouble. Make sure dogs get walks and other vigorous exercise each day. Cats need outlets for their energy too, such as scratching posts.
10. Pet-proof an area for young or new pets. Until the pet is housetrained, for times when you're not home to watch the new pet, use a crate or puppy-pen if you have trouble pet-proofing a room in your home.
First Aid Kit and Guidance
Keep a pet First Aid Kit in your home and car. Take one on trips with your pet. This webpage lists items to include and how to use them:
AAHA Animal Hospital Locator
Removing Items from a Dog's Mouth
Food Warnings and Kitchen Safety
Yard and Outdoor Safety
Alternatives to Toxic Cleaning, Household and Yard products
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
Note: This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.
For more of Robin's Dog Tips, see the index at www.paw-rescue.org
Partnership for Animal Welfare
FOR NONPROFIT USE ONLY. These articles may NOT be reproduced or circulated without author permission.
|Last Updated: November 29, 2011 (LET)||PawSupport|