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Top 10 Poisonous Items Found Around the House

Cases of pet poisoning are not uncommon occurrences at Animal Hospital. The causes of the poisonings generally appear to be accidental – the swallowing of household items owners did not realize were toxic to pets. As a rule, owners should follow the same poison prevention guidelines for pets as they do with small children – keep harmful substances inaccessible or eliminate them from the household. The following is a list of toxic household items (not listed in any specific order) that owners need to isolate from their pets.

  1. Cleaning agents of all kinds can cause a variety of problems, ranging from mild stomach upset to severe burns of the stomach, mouth and tongue.
  2. Potentially dangerous food items include onions, onion powder, chocolate (baking, semisweet, milk and dark), alcoholic beverages, coffee (grounds and beans), macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, hops, tomato leaves and stems, xylitol sweetened products (common in sugar-free gum), rhubarb leaves and tobacco products.
  3. Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze must be in storage out of reach from pets. Small amounts of antifreeze can irreparably damage the kidneys, and pets find it has a sweet taste.
  4. Most ingredients contained in baits intended to trap and/or eliminate household pests are also attractive and harmful to pets.
  5. Engorgement of spicy, greasy and/or spoiled foods can induce severe conditions such as pancreatitis and stomach bloat in dogs and gastritis and diarrhea in cats.
  6. Lethal prescription and over-the-counter medications are acetaminophen products, pain killers, cold medicine, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills. Never give a pet medication unless directed by a veterinarian.
  7. Permethrin spot products designed for dogs are harmful to cats. Heed directions regarding dog or cat only products, as well as those explaining usage on young, pregnant and/or unhealthy pets.
  8. The list of toxic plants is extensive, however, the following names a few common ones found in Houston homes and gardens – azalea, daffodils, oleander, sago palm, all lilies, yew, philodendron, dieffenbachia, cyclamen, corn stalk plant and birds of paradise.
  9. Exposure to insecticidal foggers or sprays is unsafe. Owners should follow label instructions regarding the recommended length of time to avoid treated areas. 
  10. Mothballs, potpourri oils, coins, homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets and batteries can also be dangerous to pets.

In the event of a pet poisoning, rapid treatment is critical. We recommend our clients contact the Animal Hospital immediately if there is any suspicion a pet ingested a toxic ingredient. For a $45fee, pet owners may consult the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the only national organization staffed by veterinarians and veterinary toxicologists, at 1-888-426-4435.

Another excellent resource is the poisonous plants list, available for review at www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/alphalist/html.

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