March is Pet Poison Prevention Month so it is a good time for us to remind ourselves of some of the hazards lurking around our homes. Common household items that are totally harmless for us can be dangerously toxic to dogs. These Top 13 Tips to Poison-Proof Your Home will help to keep your four-legged family members safe from poisoning.
13. Lock Up Cleaning Products
Most commercially-made cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can sicken or kill your dog. Some of them, unfortunately, also contain scents that may attract your dog, like lemon or pine. Most people store their cleaning supplies in places that may be accessible to their dog, such as under the kitchen sink, under the bathroom sink, or in a storage closet. Consider putting child safety latches on the doors to these places so a curious puppy can’t nose his way in and accidentally ingest the cleaning chemicals.
12. Watch Where Your Meds Are
Prescription and over-the-counter medication for humans can be deadly to your dog if he were to accidently ingest some. That includes vitamins, too. Most of the pet poisonings that result from eating human medication happen because the medication is not kept where it should be—in a medicine cabinet or another spot that is out of reach for pets. Dogs can easily get ahold of pill bottles left on bedside tables, kitchen counters, bathroom counters, and in purses. Be aware of where your medication is at all times and move it to higher ground if necessary.
Many of us fill our homes with houseplants as a way to bring the outdoors in. Several kinds of houseplants, however, can be toxic to dogs. Oleander, castor bean, Easter lily, and azalea can make your dog extremely sick if he were to nibble on the leaves. Before buying new houseplants, do a quick Google search to make sure that it is not a poisonous plant and double check with your vet. The best way to prevent your dog from eating a poisonous houseplant is to not have the plants in your home at all.
10. Essential Oils and Diffuser Oils
It is a trend now for people to use essential oils to treat a variety of ailments, either by applying the oil directly to the skin or using a diffuser. Essential oils can be poisonous to pets if ingested and may cause skin irritation if the oil is applied to the dog. Never use essential oils on your dog without first discussing it with your veterinarian. The vials of essential oil themselves, as well as your diffuser, should be kept high enough that your dog cannot get to them.
9. Pest Control
From time to time, mice or insects may take up residency in your home. Rodent poisons, ant poison, roach spray, moth balls, and flea and tick bombs can all be detrimental to your dog’s health. Poisons typically have a smell and taste that is intended to lure in the pests and entice them to eat the poison. For the same reason, your dog will also want to eat the poison. Place these in areas that your dog cannot get to, like a basement or crawl space. The same is true of ant poison, even the little ant traps. Be careful where you place these, so your dog doesn’t chew on them. If your pets bring home fleas and you need to set off flea bombs in your home, then be careful about following the directions on the packaging that instructs you to remove your pets from the home for a specific amount of time. Do not bring your dog back to your house sooner than that time or the poison that is killing the fleas may make him sick.
8. Toilet Cleaner
Dogs love toilets. It is, after all, a continuous source of water for them, even if their water bowl never runs dry. We put chemicals in our toilets, though, making the water hazardous, if it wasn’t gross enough already. Many toilet cleaners and toilet cakes contain bleach, dyes, and other toxic substances. A good way to prevent your dog from sampling the toilet water is to train the humans in your house to put the seat cover down when they are finished using the bathroom. We know, however, that humans are not as easy to train as dogs. If that is the case at your house, then you could make sure your dog’s water bowl stays full (maybe by buying an automatic waterer), look for chemical-free bathroom cleaning products, and simply keep the bathroom door closed.
7. Kitchen Trash
The garbage can in your kitchen is a treasure trove of hazards that can poison your dog, yet it also contains some tasty temptations. Your dog may be attracted to the trash can because he smells a discarded hamburger or uneaten pizza crust, but he could inadvertently eat something poisonous, like coffee grounds, cigarette butts, avocado skins, batteries, or onion scraps. There are a few tips you can try to make sure your dog stays out of the garbage: you could purchase a trash can with a lid, particularly one with a spring-loaded closure, keep your trash can in a cabinet with a child safety lock on the door, and take the kitchen trash out to the curbside dumpster often.
6. Automotive Fluids
Like most people, your garage probably contains some automotive fluids, such as gasoline, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and antifreeze. All these automotive chemicals are extremely deadly to pets. Unfortunately, antifreeze seems to be delicious to dogs. Your pets should be kept far away from the automotive chemicals stored in your garage and when you are working on your car. Spills, particularly oil spills or antifreeze leaks, should be immediately cleaned up so your dog doesn’t lick the garage floor and ingest the poisons.
5. Garden Supplies
To keep our lawns looking good, many people treat their landscaping with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weed killers. These items can be toxic to your pets when they are applied. In fact, your dog should not walk on the grass or garden until the chemicals are completely dry. Some other garden hazards include cocoa mulch, blood meal, and mushrooms. All garden chemicals should also be stored in a place that is out of reach for pets, like a locked storage cabinet in the garage.
4. Holiday Hazards
At certain times of the year, additional hazards are present in our homes that could lead to pet poisoning. The preservative we add to the Christmas tree water, for example, can be toxic to curious and thirsty dogs. Poinsettias contain toxins as well. At Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Halloween, we have more chocolate, a danger to dogs, and candy in the house that may tempt a dog. Heart-shaped candy boxes and Halloween candy buckets should be stored high out of reach for dogs. Easter poses a special challenge. On this holiday, we traditionally hide chocolates and other sweets around the house and yard, making it even more difficult to keep poisons away from your dog. It is best to keep your dog away from the Easter egg hunt.
3. Laundry Supplies
Keep your dog from doing the Tide Pod challenge! This bizarre trend could be devasting to your dog’s health. Laundry detergents, including laundry pods and laundry crystals, contain poisons that can be deadly to your pooch. Even fabric softener and dryer sheets pose poisoning hazards. All laundry supplies should be kept in an upper shelf or cabinet so the pup can’t ingest any of the detergents or laundry supplies.
2. Marijuana Toxicity
Cases of dogs suffering from marijuana toxicity are on the rise. Several states have legalized recreational marijuana use, and even more permit medical marijuana use. Some people purposely give their dogs marijuana to make them the life of the party. Others give it to them for medicinal reasons. A dog’s body, however, doesn’t react to marijuana in the same way as a human’s. While CBD oils may help a dog in pain, it should only be used under the guidance of your veterinarian, only where it is legal, and only when you have a clear understanding of dosages. Marijuana, however, is different than CBD oils. Second-hand smoke from marijuana can be hazardous to pets. Dogs who have been given marijuana, or that sneak bites of their owner’s marijuana products, exhibit a variety of symptoms of poisoning. Marijuana users should refrain from giving their dog pot and keep their stash in a secure place so the dog can’t get to it.
1. Table Scraps
Many dog poisoning incidents result from pets eating table scraps. Foods that are safe for humans, however, are not necessarily safe for dogs. Always check with your veterinarian before you give your dog human food. Some items, such as apples and blueberries, may be safe and even nutritious for dogs, but others, like raisins, dark chocolate, Macadamia nuts, yeast, chives, avocado, and grapes, can be toxic and lead to sickness or death. To keep your dog safe from poisoning, stick to a diet of dog food unless it is okayed by your vet.
Most pet poisoning cases are preventable. The key is to be aware of potential hazards and dangers and to keep your pet away from the common items in your home that can make them sick. If, despite your best efforts, your dog ingests something harmful, you should have your veterinarian’s contact information easily accessible, as well as the number for the nearest emergency animal clinic. You can also contact the 24-hour Animal Poison Control Center at 855-764-7661.