We all know to childproof our homes to keep young children safe, but what about “pet proofing” our homes too? Many edible and non-edible dangers for your pet may exist in or around your home. Knowing about these dangers can help you make your home a safer place for your pet.

Edible Dangers for Pets

Some food and drink items that you consider tasty treats may be dangerous for your pet. As tempting as it might be to share your food or drink with your four-legged friend, please resist! Some of the more hazardous edible items include:
• Alcoholic drinks and food products containing alcohol
• Avocado (only mildly toxic to dogs and cats, but can be severely toxic, even deadly, to birds, rabbits, horses, and ruminants such as cattle, goats, and sheep)
• Caffeine (found in a lot of drinks such as coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks)
• Chocolate
• Fatty foods
• Garlic
• Grapes and raisins
• Macadamia nuts
• Marijuana
• Medicine intended for people or another pet, unless directed by your veterinarian (for example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for people, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, may not be right for your pet and may even be harmful; and the common pain reliever acetaminophen is fatal to cats)
• Onions
• Salt
• Tobacco products (including e-cigarettes and their refills)
• Xylitol (a sweetener found in products such as some sugar-free chewing gum, sugar-free candy, cough syrup, mouthwash, and toothpaste)
• Yeast products (like raw bread dough)

While not necessarily toxic, some food items can cause gastrointestinal obstruction (a blockage in the digestive tract) if your pet swallows them. For example, avocado pits, corn cobs, and bones can get stuck in your pet’s esophagus, stomach, or intestines.
Fruit pits in the Prunus genus of trees and shrubs, which includes cherries, nectarines, peaches, and plums, contain cyanide, but cyanide poisoning is rare unless your pet eats a lot of pits and chews them up. The pits must be crushed or ground up to release the cyanide. Gastrointestinal obstruction is the bigger risk for dogs and cats that eat these fruit pits.
While not edible themselves, food bags, especially the mylar-type potato chip bags, cereal bags, and snack bags, can be a danger for pets. Dogs are typically more likely than cats to sniff out food bags. These bags are thin enough that if your dog puts his head far enough into one and breathes in, the bag can wrap around his nose and mouth, suffocating him. The more your dog breathes in, the tighter the bag gets around his face. He can’t easily pull the bag off with his paws because it’s tightly stuck to his face, like shrink wrap.

Non-Edible Dangers for Pets

Pets, especially dogs, will often eat non-edible items. Some non-edible items in your house or yard that may be dangerous for your pet include:
• Antifreeze
• Cocoa mulch
• Fabric softener sheets
• Ice melting products
• Insecticides and pesticides (even flea and tick products for dogs can be dangerous, or possibly life-threatening, if used on cats or other animals)
• Lawn fertilizers and weed killers
• Liquid potpourri
• Mothballs
• Paints and solvents
• Rat and mouse bait
• Various household cleaners (including bleach and toilet bowl cleaners)
• Swimming pool chemicals
• Salt dough Christmas tree ornaments and play dough

Plants and Flowers

Threats to your pet’s health can also come from outside the home. Some plants and flowers can be harmful if your pet eats them. Below is a list of the more common plants and flowers that may be dangerous for your pet:
• Almond, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach, and plum trees and shrubs
• Aloe Vera
• Amaryllis
• Castor Bean
• Chrysanthemum
• Cyclamen
• Corn Plant
• Daphne
• Daylily and True Lily
• Dogbane
• English Ivy
• Foxglove
• Gloriosa Lily
• Golden Pothos
• Hibiscus
• Hyacinth and Tulip (especially the bulbs)
• Hydrangea
• Kalanchoe
• Lily-of-the-Valley
• Mother-in-Law Tongue
• Mountain Laurel
• Narcissus, Daffodil, Paperwhite, and Jonquil
• Oleander
• Peace Lily
• Philodendron
• Poinsettia
• Rhododendron and Azalea
• Rosary Pea
• Sago Palm
• Schefflera
• Stinging Nettle
• Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Plant
• Yew Bush

Toxicity Can Vary
The potentially dangerous items listed above can vary in how toxic they are to pets. Some may be only mildly toxic while others may cause severe illness or even death. Also, the degree of toxicity often depends on several factors, such as:
• The type of animal (cat, dog, or other species) that ate the item;
• How much the animal ate; and,
• For plants, which part was eaten (if it was the bulb, leaf, or flower).

Act Quickly

If you think your pet has eaten something potentially dangerous, call your veterinarian or a pet poison control centre right away.

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