Expert Veterinarian Advice: Pet Safety 101
Anyone with kids knows how important it is to keep them safe around the house. Childproof locks, pool gates, locked cupboards for toxic products, and keeping dangerous items out of their reach have become second nature for most of us. When it comes to our pets, we need to exercise the same precautions to keep them safe as well. And, we need to remember that some pets, especially puppies and inquisitive felines can be even more mischievous than our most challenging kids.
Foods and treats — our pet famously loves them. However, there are quite a few no-no’s when it comes to food and our pets.
Dogs, especially, are sensitive to fats, and too many fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas and can send them straight to the hospital. Nuts, especially macadamia and walnuts, fatty meats — don’t feed the excess fat or the poultry skins, and even avocados.
Chocolate of all sorts can have a toxic effect on dogs — especially pure chocolate like cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate. While less potent, Milk chocolate and chocolate baked goods, still potentially toxic.
With fruits and veggies, most are pretty ok for your pet. However, since dogs don’t contain the enzyme cellulase, they can’t digest leafy veggies like celery, beans, or lettuce, or the skins of fruits, like apples. So while they are still safe to eat, avoid the skin. Some dogs can have a toxic reaction to raisins and grapes, yet since we aren’t able to test for this yet, we advise avoiding them completely.
Corn is extremely safe for dogs. While the corn itself is a good source of protein, corn cobs can be deadly. Dogs will often eat the cob, swallow a large chunk, and end up with a serious intestinal blockage. Make sure to dispose of those cobs in a safe, tamper-proof container to keep your dogs away.
Many sugarless gums, candies, and mints contain Xylitol, a very popular artificial sweetener that is very toxic to pets! Be careful, and don’t let them anywhere near these.
What about treats?
When we talk about treats, you know the two main categories: treats used as treats, and people food used as treats. While both are fair game, it’s important to know what is fair game.
For actual dog treats, they’re given the green light again and again. However, just because they are safe for dogs to consume, doesn’t mean they should. A lot of dog treats are packed with calories, so go easy on them. Always start slowly, as you never know how your dog will react to new treats.
If we’re talking human food as treats, — chicken and turkey (stick to the white meat and NO skin), all-beef hot dogs, fruits and veggies like apples, carrots, and bananas are all great. It’s important to remember that you should never give them the skin of anything because dogs have a hard time digesting it. The biggest no-no’s when it comes to people food for treats are raisins, grapes, and raw onions. Don’t even think about it.
As far as safe chew toys — -avoid toys or chews with sharp edges, which includes meat and poultry bones, toys with small pieces which can present a choking hazard, and rawhide bones and chews. These can be safe, but as they get soft, dogs can chew off large chunks which can cause choking. If your dog likes them, and many do, and it becomes too soft, it’s better to toss it and give them a new one.
We know our furry friends love to get into anything they can stick their nose in, but the products below should be stored in areas not accessible to pets because they are VERY life-threatening:
- Cleaning agents like bleach and detergents
- Solvents like turpentine, acetone, lighter fluid
- Automotive products like oil and antifreeze
- Gardening chemicals like fertilizers, weed killers, insecticides, and pest control products.
It’s not all chemicals that can harm your dog, even some basic household items can get your pets into trouble. We know our pets love to chew on just about anything, so don’t leave any of the following out for them to find:
While both our pets and our plants give us life, some plants are very toxic to pets. For instance, lilies are highly toxic to cats — not only the bulb and the flowers, but even the water in the vase where they are kept, and certain Crocus can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver, and kidney damage. Some other plants to look out for are:
- Sago Palm
Now that you’ve mastered pet safety, and will maintain a very pet-safe environment at home, enjoy your pets with peace of mind knowing that they’ll be as safe as possible, even when you are not around.