Media & Stories

Updates & uplifting tales

Pet safety: unexpected dangers in your home

Your pets are members of your family albeit members that have whiskers and tails. No matter their species, they need a little TLC (and in this case, TLC refers to Tender Loving Canine or Cat) attention. Foods, products and objects that are harmless or even healthy to us can be dangerous to pets. Unexpected things around the house can be hazardous, and because prevention is better than treatment, let’s take a look at some surprising dangers you may not realize.

Beyond the bowl
Being together around a table and enjoying a meal is such a special way to show love. Why wouldn’t we want to make sure our pets feel part of the family, too, by sharing food? The reason is simple. Our food can be fatal to pets, so let’s keep the following off their menu.

  • Chocolate and sweets: Who doesn’t like sweet treats? Well, for cats and dogs, chocolate and the artificial sweetener xylitol—commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods—can be deadly. Cocoa beans contain theobromine, which can cause an increased respiratory rate, central nervous system disorders, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, cardiac failure and even death.
  • Fruit (pies and pieces): You know pits and seeds in fruits like apples, plums and peaches can cause choking, but did you know the pits also contain cyanogenic glycosides, which are cyanide-like compounds that can lead to problems breathing, excess salivation, shock, seizures and coma in both dogs and cats?
  • Coffee: We like caffeine for the boost it gives us when we’re sluggish, but that central nervous system stimulation that we crave sometimes, can be deadly when your pet’s heart becomes overstimulated.
  • Macadamia nuts: While we can eat these nutty treats by the handfuls, as little as a few of these nuggets can kill a pup courtesy of an unknown toxin, which can cause seizures, vomiting and problems walking.
  • Onions/shallots/garlic/leeks: It’s impossible not to read the benefits of garlic and fresh vegetables for us, but these yummy tastes can cause severe problems in dogs and cats no matter how meager the morsel. Consequences can include kidney damage, anemia and upset stomachs.
  • Moldy foods: The green fuzzies found on old cheese, bread and pasta, for example, can cause neurological problems, like trembling, stumbling and seizures, thanks to the tremorgenic mycotoxins found in the substance. No, thank you.

Safe or not?
A few everyday products that you may not have given more than a passing thought to can put your pet at risk for health problems. Products such as:

  • Vitamins: We take vitamins and minerals to supplement our nutritional needs, and we think about our pets’ nutritional needs too, but that doesn’t mean we can share. You can’t follow the thinking that if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for my pet. Ingesting a human-grade vitamin can potentially give your pet an unhealthy excess of a vitamin or a mineral. And, some vitamins, like iron (which can cause toxicity) and vitamin D (which can increase calcium and phosphorus levels) can be threats to your pet’s health.
  • Oil diffusers: Essential oil diffusers that actively release oils into the air can help humans sleep better, find relief from headaches and congestion, but these molecules can cause problems especially in cats. When the oil droplets are pushed into the air, they settle on fur and can cause severe liver problems when cats groom themselves and can sometimes cause tremors, respiratory distress and tremors. Some oils are more poisonous than others, such as peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, wintergreen and cinnamon. If you like the benefits of oils, stick with passive diffusers, which simply evaporate oils and produce the natural smells. In case you’re wondering, dogs have a bit more tolerance to oils, but it’s best to stick with passive diffusers to be safe.
  • Bags: Dogs (and even some cats) want every last crumb of food, and to get those measly pieces, they’ll weasel their way into a bag to lick the inside. The bag can then get stuck on their head and cause a vacuum seal to form, which leads to suffocation. Make sure garbage is secured and inaccessible, and don’t leave snack or treat bags on the counter or within paw’s reach.

Leaf me alone
We know houseplants can help us breathe easier by giving off oxygen and removing certain chemicals from the air, but if your curious canine or fickle feline nibbles a leaf, it could be dangerous. Some botanicals are toxic, and eating a tiny amount may be OK, but larger or repeated doses are problematic. It’s impossible to know every plant that could cause issues. But as a general rule, if a plant is toxic to humans, assume it’s harmful to animals. Some common household plants and flowers that warrant caution are:

  • African violet
  • Amaryllis
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ficus
  • Lilies
  • Roses
  • Tulips

Your pet may have ingested a plant/flowers if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, frequent urination and drinking lots of water in addition to dirt or water on the floor.

If you suspect your pet has gotten their nose … err, mouth … into something he shouldn’t, contact your vet or poison control center immediately. It’s better to be cautious especially when our four-legged family members are involved.

Be on the lookout for pet-proofing your home articles in future issues of Just Between Friends!

Have a story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it, click here to share your story!

Contact us

Get in touch