Poisons and Hazards: Safeguard your Pet

Every home contains a variety of everyday items and substances that can be dangerous or even fatal if ingested by dogs and cats. You can protect your pet’s health by becoming aware of the most common health hazards found in many pet-owning households.

You may be surprised at how many potential pet hazards exist around your home and even in your car.

Christmas, fireworks, heat stress, storms and snakes can all be very dangerous to pets. Many common household items such as food, medicines and plants can also be fatally toxic. Because of this, it is very important to familiarise yourself with commonly found poisons and to ensure these are not kept within reach of your much-loved animals.

Hazards to Cats

You can read all about the hazards to cats that you might find in your home or garden. Remember that outdoor pets could come into contact with and be harmed by something you are not familiar with.

Dangers Dogs encounter

Below is a list of hazards that your dogmay encounter within the home or garden. Different seasons in the year can present a totally different array of dangers.

Poison Protection: Pet-proof your home

The best way to reduce the chances that your dog will be the victim of pet poisoning is by preventing exposure to dangerous substances. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep all medications, even those in child-proof bottles, in cabinets that are inaccessible to your dog. If you inadvertently drop a pill on the floor, be sure to look for it immediately. Supervise anyone, such as the elderly, who may need help taking medications.
  • Always follow guidelines on flea or tick products.
  • Although you can safely give some ”people foods” to your pet as a treat, others are toxic. If you have any questions about what is safe, ask your veterinarian. Or, err on the safe side and give treats made specifically for animals.
  • Be sure any rodenticides you use are kept in metal cabinets or high on shelves where your pets can’t find them. Remember that dogs can be fatally poisoned by eating an exposed rodent, so always be very cautious about using these products. Tell your neighbors if you put out rat bait, so they can protect their pets from exposure, and ask them to do the same for you.
  • When buying plants for your home, opt for those that won’t cause problems if your dog happens to nibble on them. The ASPCA has an online list of toxic and nontoxic plants by species. If you choose to have toxic plants, be sure they are kept in a place where your animals can’t reach them.
  • Store all chemicals and cleaners in pet-inaccessible areas of your home.

Top 10 Christmas Hazards: Be aware!

  • Chocolate. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, a bit like caffeine, which, while tasty, is severely poisonous to cats and dogs.
  • Mince Pies and Christmas Puddings. All grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are toxic to dogs; as are foods that contain them – which means no mince pies for your pooch, we’re afraid.
  • Blue Cheese. While delicious to us, blue cheese contains a substance called roquefortine C, which dogs are extremely sensitive to.
  • Tinsel. While it might look like a lot of fun to play with, tinsel can cause dangerous blockages in an animal’s stomach.
  • Macadamia nuts. Often lurking in biscuits or eaten as a decadent Christmas snack, these nuts cause severe illness in dogs.
  • Garlic, chives and onion. Found in many festive foods like gravy, stuffing and sausages, all Allium species are poisonous to dogs.
  • Snow Globes. Imported versions can contain antifreeze – as little as one tablespoon can be fatal for a cat.
  • Candles. They may create a cosy atmosphere, but candle flames can burn paws and the curious noses of furry friends. There’s also risk of them falling over when brushed against.
  • Fairy Lights. Cats are curious and will try to chew on anything, including fairy lights – which can burn and even electrocute them.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol can cause severe liver and brain damage in animals. As little as a tablespoon can lead to problems for your cat or dog.

Get your pet to a vet

If you’re away from home, go to the nearest vet in an emergency. We are not fussed if you don’t come to us, just get your pet the help they require.

It’s best to ring ahead so the vet you choose can prepare for an emergency case. This will also help you to determine if they are open or not.

Give your pet first aid

Constantly reassure your pet that they are ok, talk to them or hold them if possible. If you can’t try to make their transit as calm as you can.

Giving your pet first aid treatment on the way to the vets is important, you may be the one that makes the vital difference as to whether they recover or not.

If the vets are closed

Always call your vet in any emergency situation. If your vet’s closed, you can still get out-of-hours help. All vet practices provide an out-of-hours service for emergency cases.

You may be directed to another vet surgery, but this will be within an hour’s drive of your usual vet.

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