We do our best to keep our dogs and cats safe from potential toxins in our house, but the difficulty is just trying to keep track of the sheer number of things that they can get into! There are numerous innocuous household products that are actually toxic to our furry friends, and they even differ across species. While it would be impossible to list ALL the possible things that our pet companions can get into, we will try to include an abbreviated list of those that are most likely to cause a problem.
Not surprisingly, dogs have a tendency to get into human food products most often (much more so than their feline counterparts!). One of the most well-known toxins to dogs is chocolate. Chocolate contains methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst , hyperactivity, heart abnormalities, tremors, seizures and even death. The amount of chocolate is a product is directly related to the percentage of cocoa in it (aka, white chocolate has the least, while baking chocolate has the most). The good thing about chocolate is that if you know what your dog got into, we are able to calculate out whether or not the amount ingested has the potential to be a problem!
In addition to chocolate, dogs tend to love sugar-free gum products that are in a purse or backpack. The issue with these products (such as Trident or Orbit) is that they contain a substance called xylitol. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, and has immediate issues. Xylitol causes a dog’s blood sugar to drop to a critical level for 24 hours, and then after that can cause liver damage.
Human medications can be an issue for either dogs or cats. It is not advised to give any human over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to our dog or cat friends. Tylenol is toxic to both dogs and cats, but with cats can causes a life-threatening hemolytic anemia very quickly. Aleve can cause substantial kidney issues when given to dogs. Please don’t give any over-the-counter medications to your pets without checking with one of our doctors first to ensure it is safe!!
While dogs have a tendency to get into our human food, cats have a liking for chewing on houseplants. While many are benign, it is important to inspect any bouquets for lilies if there are cats in the house. Both the petals and the leaves of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.
Finally, many household cleaning and air freshening products can be toxic to our furry friends. Bleach is caustic to the inside of mouth if ingested, as well as the esophagus and intestinal system if swallowed in larger quantities. Essential oil plug-ins or air fresheners can be very appealing to cats, but can cause gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression and even liver damage.
If you are concerned that your pet got into something that it shouldn’t, or are unsure if a product can be a potential issue, please give us a call to discuss it! It is always better to be on the safe side and double-check!