Pet Safety Tips and Alerts

Be Aware of Household Hazards, Poisonous Foods, and Hot and Cold Weather Dangers

Barley in the hospital / Sally Haddock DVM
Barley in the hospital. Sally Haddock DVM

Keeping our pets safe is a year-round job, with an emphasis during the holidays and special occasions. Pets chew up and eat things humans never would think of consuming, and sometimes we unknowingly give our pets human foods or medications that are deadly poisons. We also need to be cognizant in the summer as overheating and dehydration are potential hazards.

  • 01 of 10

    Potential Food Poisons

    Whether it be fed directly to your pet or something your dog or cat ate on its own, there are certain foods that can be dangerous. It is somewhat well known that chocolate is not safe for dogs, but you may not be aware that dark chocolate is the worst culprit. Onions are garlic in large quantities are also harmful, as are raisins and grapes. Unbaked yeast bread dough, food and drink with caffeine and the sugar substitute xylitol, as well as alcohol should all be kept away from our furry friends.

  • 02 of 10

    Harmful Household Liquids

    From the laundry room to under the kitchen sink, there are several chemicals we use in our home that can be poisonous to your pet. Detergents and bleach, household cleaners, and glues and paints can cause harm if not only swallowed but also inhaled or if it comes in contact with the skin and fur. Make sure to keep these items, as well as automotive fluids and gardening fertilizers and treatments, off of the floor and away from where your pets can reach them.

  • 03 of 10

    Dangerous Domestic Goods

    You may think nothing of that piece of string on the floor or the stray rubber band that fell on the carpet. But these are items that your pet—in particular your cat—is attracted to and can be harmful if ingested. And with all of our devices these days we have many electrical cords running across our rooms and countertops. Both cats and dogs may find these appealing and begin to chew on them, so it is important to wrap them and hide them when possible.

    Cats are known for wanting to seek out warm and cozy places to curl up in. Unknown to many people, the clothes dryer is one of those places, often ending in injury or death. Make sure to check your dryer before setting it to a cycle!

  • 04 of 10

    Menacing Medications

    Barley in the hospital / Sally Haddock DVM
    Barley in the hospital. Sally Haddock DVM

    We may take certain medications to relieve and cure ailments, but if your pet gets a hold of them, it can cause major medical issues. Pain relievers may seem innocuous, but if ingested by your dog or cat they can cause serious harm. Antidepressants, ADHD medication, and sleep aids are also a potential poison to our pets, as are birth control, beta blockers, and cholesterol-lowering drugs. Whether over the counter or by prescription, all medication in the home should be placed out of reach of our furry friends.

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  • 05 of 10

    Nicotine Poisoning

    Nicotina (tobacco) plant by net_efekt on Flickr
    Nicotina (tobacco) plant. © net_efekt on Flickr

    Pets— especially curious puppies—may find discarded cigarette or cigar butts, nicotine patches, nicotine gum, or chewing tobacco and decide to give them a taste test. All of these tobacco products contain nicotine, which can cause illness and even death in fairly small amounts. Make sure to dispose of these products safely away from pets.

  • 06 of 10

    High Heat and Freezing Cold

    Unlike humans, dogs don't sweat, but instead, use panting as a way to cool down. Most dogs can tolerate temperatures up to 90 F, but it is important to keep an eye on your pet as their breed, health condition, and age can play a factor in how they handle the heat and humidity. Good ways to offer relief and comfort are cooling beds, kiddie pools, and chilled treats.

    Of course, when it's hot out, humans and animals alike should drink more water. If your dog or cat is dehydrated you may notice sunken eyes and that their skin will not spring back into place when gently pulled; in cats you will notice dry gums, drooling, or panting. Make sure to keep the water bowl full and consider doubling up during a heat wave.

    We need to look out for our pets in the winter as well. In addition to making sure they are kept warm we also need to keep them away from dangerous ice and frozen water which can cause hypothermia.

  • 07 of 10

    Festive Plants With Toxins

    You may love the look of a pair of poinsettias on the fireplace hearth, but your pet may also love nibbling on those pretty leaves and flowers. Reactions can range from mild to severe and will depend on the amount your dog or cat has ingested. Play it safe and place those festive plants—including hollies, lilies, daffodils, and even Christmas trees—high enough and out of reach.

  • 08 of 10

    Holiday Hazzards

    In addition to decorative flowers, there are many other potentially dangerous items used around the house during the holiday season, from tinsel and Easter grass to Halloween and Easter candy. Make sure to keep these decorations and treats away from your pets. Also, if you live close to where ​fireworks are set on July 4th and perhaps New Year's Eve, you may want to move your pet to a spot in the house where the noise is not so loud, or try to drown it out the booming with pleasant music.

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  • 09 of 10

    Caution in Cars

    The signs reading "Heat Kills" have become prevalent throughout parking lots, warning against keeping both children as well as pets in unattended automobiles. The heat can build up in a closed car no matter the time of year and weather, and even in a shady spot in the parking lot, and could cause your pet to overheat. Do your best to plan accordingly and leave your pet home when you need to run errands, or choose pet-friendly stops when you have your furry friend with you.

  • 10 of 10

    Skunks and Scorpions

    Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) by cliff1066 on Flickr
    Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis). by cliff1066 on Flickr

    Skunks normally mind their own business, but sometimes they are provoked to spray by an unsuspecting curious pet. The spray is not lethal, but may cause discomfort—and will smell terrible—in your pet. There are a few tips you can follow if your pet has come in contact with the local Pepe le Pew.

    For many animals in the United States southwest (Arizona in particular) it is common to come in contact with a scorpion. The sting of a scorpion is similar to an insect sting, with pain and swelling at the site. Most animals recover without a problem. Some animals, however, will have a more severe reaction, showing signs of neurologic, cardiovascular and pulmonary collapse.