Just as you must be vigilant about dangers lurking in common household items for your two-legged toddlers, so too must you watch out for dangers to your fur babies. We all know how curious puppies generally are and many adult dogs are extremely non-picky when it comes to eating whatever it is they find on the floor, in the yard, or anywhere else for that matter. Some dogs will even exert considerable effort to reach counter tops to access things like pans of freshly baked dark-chocolate brownies tucked back against the wall where you THOUGHT they would be safe. Yes, my neighbor’s Golden Retriever, Buddy, not only dragged the glass baking dish off the counter and ate the entire pan of brownies but also licked clean every piece of glass from the shattered dish.
In addition to surveying your house and yard for dangerous digestible, you may also want to generally ‘puppy-proof‘ your home and check out the advice from Dr. John Tegzes, a veterinary toxicologist, about foods and other substances you should avoid giving to your pup. If you think your pup has ingested something that might be dangerous, you may want to immediately call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control line at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 and then head to your vet. Note that most poison help lines will charge you a consultation fee.
Here is our top-10 list of dangerous household items for dogs, with the caveat that there are, of course, many others:
Do not feed your dog chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which trigger a host of problems in dogs, including gastrointestinal upset, atypical blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, seizures, tremors and even death. Rule of thumb: The darker the chocolate the more poisonous it is to a dog. As soon as your pup ingests chocolate, take him to the vet. According to Dr. Tegzes, “Treatment should be instituted as soon as possible after an exposure in order to prevent the life-threatening effects. Do not wait until your dog experiences signs of poisoning, but instead take her/him to the vet clinic as soon as possible after an exposure. Treatment is easier and more effective if instituted as soon as possible.” The treatment may include induced vomiting, pumping of the stomach, IV hydration, administration of activated charcoal, and prescribed medications, all depending on the severity of the poisoning.
Other ‘people foods’ – and drinks
Do not feed your pup raisins and grapes, the ingestion of which can lead to critical kidney failure; macadamia nuts, which can cause weakness, tremors and GI issues when ingested; onions and garlic which can cause anemia; citrus oil extracts which can cause vomiting; overly fatty foods (e.g. cat food, fatty meats, cheeses) which can cause pancreatitis; artificial sweeteners which can cause blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels, causing seizures, loss of consciousness and, if left untreated, death; alcohol, which will have the same effect on your pooch as on you and can cause death – bottom line is that it is NOT funny to get your dog drunk; vitamin supplements with iron which can damage the lining of the digestive system as well as the liver and kidneys. Bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list so think twice before you give your dog any table scraps, no matter how much they beg.
Prescription, OTC and Pet Medications
Keep all drugs, human and veterinary, out of the reach of your pups and human children alike. Big dogs are capable of reaching counter tops and consuming whatever is within range, including your pills and his.
After eating corn-on-the-cob, dispose of the cobs in a location where the dog cannot retrieve them. If you put them in the trash can, odds are your pooch is going to dig them out. A dog’s digestive system is not equipped to digest a corn cob. The cob can create a grave intestinal log jam, making your pet very sick.
Keep antifreeze in a location inaccessible to pets and children. Dogs like the taste of it because it is sweet. Several days after ingesting antifreeze your dog will experience kidney failure due to the poisonous ethylene glycol in the antifreeze. When you buy antifreeze, get the type which is propylene glycol-based because it is less lethal. If you think your pet has ingested antifreeze there is an antidote but it must be given speedily by a veterinarian in order to work. Do not allow dogs (or children) access to other chemicals you keep in your garage or basement or anywhere outside, including swimming pool chemicals, solvents, paint thinner and paint. Store fertilizer and other gardening aids in a location your dog cannot access. Do likewise with your household cleaning products. Use pet-friendly, organic fertilizers and cleaners.
Rat and mouse baits can lead to serious problems when ingested by dogs. The contents include anticoagulants that lead to substantial internal bleeding. When a dog consumes bait containing cholecalciferol this leads to kidney failure. Those baits containing bromethalin cause the brain to swell, resulting in seizures and death.
Toilet bowl cleaner
Does your pet like to drink out of the toilet? A toilet bowl filled with toilet cleaner is toxic so be sure to lower the toilet lid after putting cleanser in the bowl and provide your pooch with lots of clean, fresh water so that he is not forced to seek hydration in inappropriate places.
Some plants are poisonous to dogs, including rhododendrons, cyclamen, hyacinth, tulip, daffodil and narcissus bulbs, oleander, amaryllis, sago palms, chrysanthemum and yew. Some common household plants are also poisonous to dogs so, in an abundance of caution, you will want to put your household plants in an area your dog cannot get to. Also remember that some holiday plants, particularly poinsettias, are extremely toxic to dogs.
When a dog eats something metal, such as a penny, he is consuming zinc, which leads to zinc toxicosis, causing anemia and gastrointestinal dilemmas. Surgery is often required to remove the coins from the animal’s intestine. The coins must be removed because the body continues to absorb zinc as long as the coins remain in the intestines.
Insecticides and lawn and garden products
Don’t forget about your yard and tool shed. Dogs will investigate absolutely anything and everything and they lead with the nose, closely followed by the mouth. Do not allow your dog access to fertilizers or insecticides, the most dangerous being those containing metaldehyde-based slug and snail baits and methomyl-based fly bait.
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