We can all agree that our pets are the cutest. But here’s the problem: Their cuteness distracts us from the fact that deep within them, the ancestral spirit of the wild calls them to destroy anything and everything in their path — whether it’s shoes, pillows, socks, or a suspicious-looking houseplant. In fact, they evolved specifically to make sure we forget that they were once wild, hungry wolves and lions hunting their prey. (Look at this ferocious beast.)
Unfortunately, while animals in the wild can discriminate between good prey and bad, our little munchkins have in many cases lost this discernment. And the results can be deadly.
So how can you ensure they don’t eat anything that’s bad for them when the call of the wild takes over? As a rule of thumb, your pet should be eating pet food and nothing else. But for good measure, here is a list of common household hazards you should definitely keep out of reach of your beloved monster.
Any human medication consumed by your pet is potentially dangerous, and even though they never seem to want to take their own medication, they always seem to be interested in ours.
Pets have been known to chew through pills kept in plastic bags or get into loose medications in a purse while their owner is distracted. If you’re taking medications on the go, try and find a zippered pouch in your purse or similar hard-to-reach spot to keep your pills.
Keep in mind, if they can do this, pets can likely figure out how to get their paws on your bathroom counter. So always store medications up and away in a medicine cabinet with the containers tightly sealed.
It’s hard to imagine the very toys you lovingly buy to keep your pets entertained could turn on them. But when old, damaged chew toys fall apart, the individual pieces and soft filling can become a choking hazard. Cotton filling is especially dangerous, as it can expand inside an animal’s stomach and cause a blockage.
Keep an eye on your pet’s toys, and throw away any that are excessively damaged. Vets agree that string and yarn are not safe for any pet, especially if the pet is unsupervised. The barbs on a cat’s tongue can make it hard for them to spit out yarn, which can cause a dangerous intestinal blockage if ingested. It’s simply a better choice to go with a safer toy, like a large fleece pull that is too big to be swallowed.
And if you have children (or a super cool action figure collection — no judgement), make sure stuffed animals and toys with small parts are kept out of your pet’s reach.
You like to think your home is a safe place, but even seemingly innocuous items such as cleaning products could become household hazards to your beloved pet.
When you’re cleaning, make sure the area is well-ventilated. The following may be toxic to pets:
- Potent cleaners such aerosol sprays or oven cleaners.
- Antifreeze and other ethylene glycol products — antifreeze can lure pets with its sweet taste, but even a tiny amount is extremely toxic.
- Rat poison.
- De-icing salt — it can irritate their paws, and if they ingest it, it can be poisonous.
- Fertilizers and insecticides.
We all know sniffing while walking is one of the great joys of life ever invented. But what about eating while walking?
A variety of plants can be toxic to pets, including:
- Castor-oil plant
- English ivy, leaves and berries
But instead of memorizing that long list of plants, it’s easier to just follow this one simple rule: Don’t let your pet eat any unknown plants!
Keep in mind, although stores now sell pet-safe fertilizers and insecticides, you never know who is using them and who may be using toxic chemicals on their lawns (or toxic mulch such as cocoa mulch, which causes chocolate poisoning) — so make sure your pet isn’t eating the neighbor’s grass or hydrangeas or leaf piles. (This is also good advice for not making your neighbor annoyed with you.)
We all know not to give our pets chocolate. But the following foods are also toxic for pets:
- Apple seeds and stems
- Avocado, apricot, and peach pits
- Caffeinated beverages
- Cherry seeds
- Coffee and coffee beans
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
- Onions and shallots
- Gum and sugar-free candy
- Raw yeasted dough
Immediate veterinary care is recommended in cases where any of these foods are ingested, especially if your pet is vomiting. Pets should also not drink alcohol — even if they’re over 21 (in human years or dog years).
Keeping your pets out of trouble isn’t hard if you know how to be proactive and keep household hazards out of reach. Pets should be well-supervised, especially if they are young, teething, or extra-curious (I’m looking at you, cats). If you’re not sure what your pet has eaten or if they have eaten something toxic, the safest thing to do is always to call your vet.