Are These Pet Poisons Hiding In Your Home?

Most of us know that household items like chocolate and antifreeze are toxic to pets, but hidden in our homes are a surprising number of other products that can be just as dangerous. Here are three you might never have suspected.

Fabric Softener Sheets
Online, you can find a pet care tip that advises wiping a dog or cat’s coat with fabric softener sheets to remove loose hair and dander. This is a terrible idKeep Pets safeea; dryer sheets contain toxic chemicals including chloroform, benzyl acetate, and detergents known as cationics which can cause dangerous gastrointestinal irritations.
These chemicals are dangerous to all pets, but cats are particularly vulnerable. Rubbed on a cat’s coat, these toxins will be ingested when the cat grooms herself and can cause chemical burns in the mouth, drooling, systemic distress, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), kidney failure and intestinal ulceration. Dogs are vulnerable as well. Contact with dryer sheets, can cause chemical reactions on the dog’s skin that can include redness and itching, swelling, hives and rash. Asthmatic or allergic dogs may inhale the chemical fumes and suffer potentially deadly allergic reactions.
The packaging for dryer sheets includes a warning to keep them away from children and pets. That’s definitely good advice. Treat these products as the pet poisons they are. Store dryer sheets where pets can’t get at them and when you take your laundry out of the dryer, take a moment to find and remove the dryer sheet and dispose of it safely.

Xylitol is a sugar substitute used as a sweetener in sugarless gum, chewable vitamins, toothpaste, mouthwash, and a variety of other sugar-free products. While it is harmless to humans, and National Animal Poison Control has no reports of xylitol toxicity in cats, it can be deadly for dogs. Xylitol triggers a release of insulin that results in a severe drop in blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) and can lead to liver failure. Shortly after ingesting, a dog may begin vomiting followed by lethargy, difficulty walking, and lack of coordination. Unless addressed quickly, collapse and seizures may follow. If your dog shows any of these symptoms or you suspect your dog may have ingested xylitol, it’s important to contact your vet immediately.

Raisins and Grapes
For humans, raisins are considered a healthy snack, and it’s hard to accept the fact that they could be toxic to dogs. None the less, this popular food found in almost any home’s pantry can be deadly for dogs. This includes raisins, currants, fresh grapes and as well as any food containing them such as trail mix, grape juice, and baked goods. The mechanisms that make raisins toxic to dogs are not clear, but there is no doubt that ingesting these products can result in kidney failure and possibly death. Early symptoms will include vomiting followed by diarrhea, lethargy, and increased thirst. Oddly, the toxicity isn’t necessarily dose specific. There are cases where dogs have eaten a large quantity of raisins with only moderate symptoms, and others where as few as seven raisins resulted in severe kidney failure. The unpredictable toxicity levels can lull dog owners into complacency. If your pooch has scarfed a raisin or two in the past without without harm, don’t assume he’s immune, he’s just been lucky. The consequences the next time could be very different.

At Bellevue Pet Sitters, we care about the health and safety of your pet, and we have great resources to help you know how to keep your pets safe. If you have any questions about keeping your pets safe from poisons, or if you’d like a comprehensive list of poisonous products that you might have in your home, let us know, we’ll be glad to refer you to the best resources. To help keep your pets safe, we recommend you create a First Aid & Pet Poison Safety Kit in case of emergencies. For a full list of what that should include, just email

How Dog Walking Helps Keep Your Dog Sane

A great Dane and a Dachshund being walked

Big and small, all dogs need walks

We are a nation that loves to spoil our pets. Americans spend around $61 billion a year on our pets, and many dog owners are happy to spend generously on gourmet dog food, exotic treats and expensive toys. But some of those same pet owners may be depriving their dogs of a vital necessity for their health and well-being; daily dog walking.

A Basic Instinct

Wolves, the ancestors of all dogs, start every day with a walk to hunt, patrol their territory, and mark its boundaries. It’s a routine that’s essential for their survival. This instinct to step out and explore is a basic need that is hardwired into all dogs. As any dog owner knows, no matter how spacious your backyard, your dog is always more excited when it’s time to go for a walk around the neighborhood than they are when you let them out in the yard. The reason? To quote Caesar Milan, “To your dog, your backyard is like a large fish bowl in which they are trapped.

Wolves running

Hardwired to hunt

There’s No Substitute

So a romp in the backyard or even a free run in the dog park isn’t a substitute for a dog walk. That’s because the  mental stimulation they get from a walk uniquely satisfies a dog’s powerful instinct to hunt and explore their territory on the move; to sniff the smells along the route, mark their territory and keep an eye out for “intruders” like squirrels and cats. That’s why dogs love walks so much; they’re a basic necessity, essential for a dog’s mental well-being, and as important as food and water. As Monica Collins, the “Ask Dog Lady” columnist says, “Dogs need walks like flowers need rain… To deprive a dog of this daily reality check is inhumane.

No Time?

Time doesn’t need to be an obstacle to a good walk. Dog walking doesn’t require a long trek or a lot of time; a twenty minute walk for most healthy dogs will do the trick. High energy breeds, like Australian Shepherds or Border Collies, may need longer walks or more daily walks to use up their excess energy, while dogs with arthritis or joint problems may need a shorter walk. If you’re in doubt about how long a walk your dog needs, check with your vet. Then make dog walking a part of your daily routine. Your dog will be calmer, happier, and love you for it.

And, of course, if you just can’t find the time to take your dog on regular walks, you can contact us at Bellevue Pet Sitters. We always have time for dog walking, and we’d love to meet with you and your dog to plan out a regular dog walking program that will get your pup’s tail wagging