The top dangers for pets - WPSD Local 6: Your news, weather, and sports authority

The top dangers for pets

Updated: March 17, 2014 02:13 PM
© / Jamie Carroll © / Jamie Carroll

By Michelle Ullman

Your pets are members of your family. Just like small children, they sometimes get into things they shouldn't, and come to harm through household products that seem innocent, but hold hidden dangers. Just as you childproof your home to protect your children, you should pet-proof your living areas to safeguard your pets. Look at your home through your pet's eyes, and consider any dangerous scenarios you can avoid. Think about hazardous items your pet might consider interesting or tasty. Get down at your pet's eye level, and look for risks you might overlook, but are easily spotted by a cat or small dog. The following discussion of common household dangers will help you in making your home a pet-friendly space.


Many common houseplants are poisonous to a pet that decides to take a nibble. Dogs are less likely to bother plants, but many cats are attracted to greenery, and will chew or even completely eat houseplants. Keep plants safely out of the reach of your pets, especially away from your cat. If you have a kitty that enjoys nibbling on greens, think about providing a small pot of sprouts specifically for your cat's enjoyment. The following are some of the most common poisonous houseplants, but there are many others.

Aloe Vera
Boston ivy
English ivy
German ivy
India rubber plant
Weeping fig


Rover is hard to resist when he gazes at your sandwich with pleading eyes, but many foods that humans enjoy are dangerous to pets. Effects can range from mild digestive upset to shock or even death. It is best to reserve human food for your family, and keep pets on a diet designed for their specific nutritional needs. The following are a few foods that are harmful for your pets:

Cherry pits
Candy - particularly chocolate, which is toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets, and any candy containing the sweetener Xylitol
Coffee - grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans
Human medications - pain relievers, prescriptions, vitamins
Macadamia nuts
Mushroom plants
Onions and onion powder
Tea - caffeine

Trash Containers

Trash cans also pose a danger, as the tempting scent of scraps of food and garbage can attract your pet. Not only can your pet eat trash that might be toxic, but many items in the trash are choking hazards. Keep trash containers safely locked under the sink, in a cabinet, or use containers with tight fitting lids. Of particular concern in the trash are the following:

Bones - these can splinter, and are a choking hazard
Cans with food residue - pets can get their head stuck, or be cut on sharp edges
Fat trimmings
Feminine hygiene products
Moldy food
Pits from fruit
Plastic wrap - food residue will attract a pet, and plastic wrap can cause choking
Tin foil

Chemicals/Cleaning Products

Many chemical products around the house are dangerous to pets. Always use caution in storing cleaning products, chemicals used for yard or pool care, automotive supplies or any other household products. Keep these in a closed cabinet, in the garage, or another area inaccessible to your pet. Be especially cautious with these:

Antifreeze containing ethylene glycol
Cocoa mulch - the chocolate smell attracts pets
De-icing salts - this is an irritant to paw pads
Fertilizers or plant food
Human medications
Insecticides for home or garden
Rat poison or traps
Snail or slug bait
Toilet bowl cleaners

Small Objects/Choking Hazards

Pets can also get into trouble when they try to eat small, non-edible objects. Just like a human baby, everything goes into a pet's mouth, and dogs are especially likely to sample some strange items around the house. Be particularly careful with the following items:

Beads or other small craft items
Coins, especially pennies
Holiday decorations or lights - choking hazard as well as possibility of electrical shock
Rubber bands
Small balls or toys - never let your dog play with a ball small enough to swallow
Tinsel - cats often eat tinsel, and it can damage their digestive system

Pets bring so much joy into our lives. To keep your furry companion safe, follow the same basic safety measures you would use with a baby or toddler. You will keep your pet out of trouble, out of the veterinarian's office, and ensure your pet continues to be a loved member of the family for years to come.

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