Our four-legged friends have an insatiable curiosity when it comes to, oh, just about everything — and they tend to explore with their teeth. And while our pets look innocently adorable chewing on our $300 shoes, there are a number of household items that are not safe for pet consumption.
According to the ASPCA, the top three pet poisons last year were prescription medications, insecticides and over-the-counter drugs. It’s not a shock-worthy list, but there are a number of not-so-obvious household items that can put your pets in danger. In honor of the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week, from March 18 to 24, we’ve compiled eight items to keep far away from your pets.
1. Sugarless chewing gum and breath mints
Anything that has xylitol is a no-no when it comes to your dogs. Most sugarless gums contain the sweetener, which in small amounts can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar, and in large doses can result in severe acute hepatic necrosis (i.e., liver failure). Look out for vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, collapse, tremors and seizures.
2. Asthma inhalers
Asthma inhalers often contain concentrated doses of beta-agonist drugs (e.g., albuterol). When chewed and punctured by dogs, inhalers can cause acute poisoning, which can result in life-threatening heart arrhythmias, agitation, vomiting, collapse and death.
3. People food
If you ever feel the need to throw food under the table for your furry friends, try to control that urge. While chocolate is the most obvious off-limits culinary treat for your pets, click here for other food that can mess with their health.
Cigarettes, chewing tobacco and smoking-cessation gums are all toxic to your pets. Look for signs of elevated heart and respiratory rates, neurological overstimulation, uncontrolled urination/defecation, tremors and seizures. Ingesting nicotine can cause paralysis and death; as few as three cigarettes can be fatal to a small dog.
5. Hand sanitizer
Most hand sanitizers have high concentrations of alcohol, and according to petMD, ingesting the stuff can have the same effect as a shot of hard liquor. Alcohol poisoning can lead to a severe drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia in dogs), lack of coordination, a drop in body temperature, neurological depression, coma and death.
If you choose to keep plants in your home, you need to keep them out of reach of your pets. And be extra vigilant with your cats. According to the ASPCA, this is one category that cats lead dogs in the number of exposures. Lilies can cause kidney failure and death in cats. Click here for the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
6. Veterinary meds
Of course, veterinary medication is meant for your pooch and feline, but they can’t read the label. Which means they’ll go through the whole entire bottle if given the opportunity. Be especially careful with chewable pills.
8. Lawn and garden products
What does a dog love more than a carefree run on the lawn? But be careful if you’ve recently put down fertilizer, because ingesting it can cause damage to your pets’ digestive tracts, including life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Make sure to wait the appropriate amount of time after putting down fertilizer before letting your pet outside. Also keep herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules away from your four-legged friends. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide, and most forms of rat poisons.
If your pet does ingest a poison, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-213-6680 immediately.