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 idea; 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 firstname.lastname@example.org