If you’re an animal lover, keeping your pet safe is probably one of your highest priorities. But, unlike humans, you can’t simply tell your furry friends to stay away from anything that could harm them and expect them to understand.
Pet safety is a big responsibility for pet owners. There could be many threats to your pet lurking in your home. You need to know what those threats are to keep your animals safe.
In this guide, we tell you about the household chemicals, objects, plants, and decorations that could be dangerous to your animals.
What to do if your pet has an emergency
There’s a variety of things in your home that can harm your pet. If you think your pet is in trouble, call your veterinarian immediately so that they can recommend a course of action. They might even tell you to bring your animal in for veterinary care.
If you think your animal has ingested poison, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. In addition to helpful information, the ASPCA also offers insurance plans that cover several pet health problems.
When you call the ASPCA, have all your pet’s information on hand like its weight, breed, and age. Be ready to give them a rundown of any symptoms your animal has or any chemicals that it has ingested. The ASPCA does charge a consultation fee.
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12 biggest dangers to pets at home
It’s essential for pet parents to know what household dangers they should keep their animals away from. In the next few sections, we show you some threats to your pet that might be in your home.
Cleaning products and toxic items
Some cleaning products and chemicals can hurt your pet’s health. For example, if your animal ingests cleaning substances with bleach, this might cause issues like vomiting, upset stomach, or breathing problems. Certain detergents can have phenols that can be toxic to animals.
Always read labels to see which products have harmful chemicals in them and follow product instructions. For instance, the instructions on a cleaning product might tell you to keep animals away from a freshly cleaned spot until a chemical is dry. Keep any hazardous materials locked away, sealed in a container, or out of your animal’s reach.
Other chemicals like antifreeze, pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizer can also be harmful. Antifreeze can be particularly dangerous because it tastes sweet to animals. If you have these products in your garage, keep your animals away from them and clean spills and leaks promptly before your pets can get to them.
Your human medication may help you, but it can harm your pets. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and supplements like ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, vitamins, and diet pills can cause issues like breathing difficulty and kidney failure in animals. Store your medicine in a high or pet-proof cabinet where it can’t be reached.
It’s not only human medications you have to worry about. Some medications are only meant for specific animals. For example, a certain flea treatment might be prescribed for a dog but be dangerous to a cat. Always follow your vet’s advice and read every warning label before medicating your animals.
If you’ve ever had to childproof your home, you know small items—like toy pieces—can be choking hazards for children. Toy parts can also be choking hazards for pets. Eating them may cause pets to develop blockages in their digestive systems that require surgery. Clean up your kids’ toys so your pets can’t chew or swallow them.
Be aware that some toys intended for animals can spell trouble as well. For example, rubber balls with only one air hole can create a suction that causes the ball to get stuck to a dog’s mouth. This pressure can cause tissue damage. To prevent this, only give your pets rubber balls with several air holes or no holes at all.
Food and drinks
It can be difficult to resist your pet’s cute little face when they’re begging for your scraps, but you need to be careful about which food you let them ingest. Many foods humans love can be dangerous for animals to eat.
Pits and seeds — like those found in apricots and peaches — can get caught in your animal’s esophagus or intestines and result in a blockage. Some seeds, like cherry and apple seeds, even contain traces of cyanide that can poison an animal in large enough doses. Grapes and raisins have tartaric acid that can cause potentially life-threatening issues.
Different beverages can also be risky for your animals. The caffeine in coffee and soda can give an animal an elevated heart rate or even cause seizures in high doses. Alcohol can also be very difficult for many pets to metabolize and can cause low body temperature and respiratory problems.
Some other dangerous foods for pets include chocolate, garlic, macadamia nuts, raw potatoes, onions, yeast dough, and sugar-free candy with xylitol.
You might be surprised to learn that certain bones can also be dangerous to animals. Cooked bones, like those in rotisserie chickens, can have pieces that splinter off and get stuck in or puncture your pet’s throat. Rawhide bones, like those bought in pet stores, can sometimes have the same issue.
Places they can fall or get trapped
There are many places in your home where your pets can fall or get trapped. Your dog might get stuck under your fence. Your cat might get stuck in the area behind your refrigerator or couch. Animals can also slip and fall down the stairs in your home or into holes in your backyard.
If your pet gets stuck, they might panic, which could cause them to bite or scratch you when you try to help them. If you plan on performing your own pet rescue, it’s a good idea to wear safety gloves and take precautions to protect yourself.
If you have guests during the holidays, make sure they know not to feed your pet foods that could be toxic to them. Children are especially likely to feed animals from the holiday table, so keep an eye on them.
Items like tinsel, ribbon, and polyester cobwebs are also popular holiday decorations that can harm pets. String products can get tangled in your pet’s esophagus or intestinal tract, causing life-threatening blockages that require surgery.
Cats love playing with yarn, but did you know that yarn can be hazardous to them? Not only can yarn be a choking hazard, but it can get wrapped around an animal’s neck or other body parts and restrict their breathing or blood circulation.
Keep your string products like yarn, dental floss, and holiday decorations out of reach of your animals. If you do let your cats play with yarn, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t get tangled up.
Electrical cords and components
Puppies (and many other pets) like to chew. Take steps to restrict your pet’s access to electrical cords, so they don’t get electrocuted. It might not be possible to hide all the cords in your home, but you can use cord covers to reduce the risk of your pet puncturing them.
Plastic bags and products
Plastic is just as dangerous to animals as it is to humans. Items like plastic bags can get wrapped around an animal’s head and cause them to suffocate. When ingested, bits of plastic can restrict a pet’s breathing and require veterinary care to remove.
If you keep plastic materials like bags, balloons, or straws in your home, make sure to store them where your animal can’t get to them.
In addition to being choking hazards, batteries contain sulfuric acid. If your pet chews a battery, causing it to rupture, it can result in painful chemical burns to the animal’s mouth or insides.
Even non-chewed batteries can cause heavy metal poisoning in pets. Heavy metal poisoning can give animals various health issues like loss of muscle control, seizures, and even blindness.
Store any loose batteries and devices that use batteries — like remote controls, children’s toys, and grooming products — where your pet can’t get to them.
There are various household plants that can be poisonous to pets. Here’s a rundown of a few of the most dangerous types of greenery for your pets to eat.
Lilies can cause all sorts of heart, organ, and digestive problems in animals. In fact, cats that consume certain types of lilies, like lily of the valley flowers, can get severe kidney failure in as little as a few days.
Consuming azaleas can be life-threatening for pets. The flower can upset an animal’s intestinal walls, put the animal in a coma, and cause heart problems.
Plants like rhubarb and shamrock can cause liver failure.
Several plants like chrysanthemums, pothos, corn plants, oleander, and hibiscus can irritate an animal’s intestines.
Some mushrooms can damage your pet's organs, like their liver.
Eating poinsettias can make pets extremely sick and cause vomiting.
Tulips can cause serious digestive issues for dogs and cats alike.
If you have any of these plants in your home or in your yard, it might be wise to hang them up high where animals can’t reach them. Or you can keep them in a room or space your animals aren’t allowed to enter.
Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive. Do your own research before bringing any new plant or flower into your home to see if it’s potentially harmful to your animals.
Keeping your pets from rooting in the garbage might be challenging, especially if you have large dogs. Still, it’s essential if you want to keep them from ingesting potentially dangerous particles and scraps of food that have been thrown away.
One of the best ways to keep your dogs out of the trash is by training them. Try to catch your dogs in the act when they try to rummage through your trash and let out an emphatic “No!”
When you see your dog going toward the trash can, you can also try blocking their way with your body to show them the garbage is off limits.
Some products can help keep your pets out of the trash too. You might try using a childproof trash can your pet can’t open or buy a can with a snug lid that is small enough to fit in your pantry or cupboard.
How can you protect your pet when you’re away from home?
Unfortunately, you can’t always be around to look after your fur babies. How can you keep your pets out of trouble when you’re not there?
A quality home security system, like the ones offered by Vivint, can help you, monitor, protect, and even interact with your pets from anywhere you happen to be. In particular, the Vivint Indoor Camera captures footage when motion is triggered, and you can even see and talk to your pet right through the camera. So, they’ll never truly be alone.
With a smart home security system, you can receive notifications on your smartphone to let you know when there’s suspicious activity in or around your home that could threaten your pets. A security camera with two-way audio will even let you talk to your pet while on the go.
Vivint smart home systems can help you monitor your pet while you’re away
If you’re looking to make your home safer for your animals, Vivint has the smart home devices you need — like indoor and outdoor cameras, alarm systems, thermostats, smoke detectors, and smart locks that can help you provide a secure environment for your pets.
When you contact Vivint, we’ll set you up with a home automation expert who can answer all your smart home questions and help you design and install your ideal smart home setup. Give us a call at 855.822.1220 today.
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