Being a dog-owner is not all that different from being a parent. The introduction of a young and vulnerable new member to the family means the household itself has to be reviewed and re-adjusted to make it safe, secure and healthy.
Young pups – and even mature dogs – are incredibly curious about their new home. They want to investigate every nook and cranny of their new territory, and it isn’t very long before they come in contact with some innocent household object that can actually be toxic for the animal.
Yes, household toxins are everywhere. Since we don’t view them as `toxins’ as such, it is hard to know what will actually hurt a dog unless we have a handy list of these common substances.
To make it easier for all new dog-owners, we have compiled a checklist of 21 household toxins that should be a huge guidance and help when pet-proofing your home:
• ONIONS: Not just onions themselves, but onion powder is also dangerous for dogs. A canine blood cell killer, onions have been associated with Heinz Body Anemia.
• GARLIC: Dogs metabolize certain foods, like garlic, differently than we do. Garlic can cause oxidative damage to red blood cells, and symptoms of gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and dehydration.
• CHICKEN BONES: Sure dogs love bones, but think twice before tossing any chicken bones to them because they are soft, brittle and a serious choking hazard.
• MACADAMIA NUTS: Since these nuts are often cooked into things like cookies and snacks, it is important to make sure your pet doesn’t get anything with macadamia in it as a treat. These nuts are extremely poisonous for dogs.
• GRAPES: Grapes can lead to acute renal failure in dogs. Raisins are really just dried grapes, so they count as toxins too.
• ALCOHOL: Besides liver and kidney damage, alcohol can also cause acidosis in your dog and end in cardiac arrest.
• CHOCOLATE: Most dog-owners are aware of this big one. Chocolate tops the food warnings, and dark chocolate and cooking chocolate can do the most harm.
• DAIRY PRODUCTS: Though most of us are probably guilty of sharing a bit of ice-cream or a bit of cheese with our pet, dogs aren’t really built to process cow milk products. They lack the enzyme to break down milk sugar, and many dogs are lactose intolerant.
• AVOCADOS: Not just the pits (choking hazard) but avocados themselves contain persin (a fungicidal toxin) in the leaves, seeds, bark and fruit, which is toxic in large amounts for dogs.
• PAIN PILLS: A lot of dog-owners are tempted to share their pain pills with their pets when the animal is in deep discomfort. But human medications should never be used for dogs without veterinary consultation and approval. Acetaminophen, for example, which is present in Tylenol and other drugs may interfere with oxygen flow or do irreparable harm to the dog’s liver.
• VET MEDICATIONS: Oral doses meant for dogs sometimes come in tasty flavors, which is why a dog will consider it a treat, and eat the whole lot if they’re not stored in a safe place.
• INSECTICIDES: Exposure to insecticides — especially after repeated or heavy applications of the chemical — can be toxic to both dogs and cats. What’s worse, dogs exposed to toxic chemicals may not exhibit all of the signs of poisoning, making diagnosis difficult.
• RODENTICIDES: The anticoagulants or phosphorus side effects meant to quell a rat infestation can have devastating consequences for your dog.
• CLEANING PRODUCTS: Basic home cleaning products like bleach, window and bathroom cleaners are often kept in low cupboards under the sink that your dog might easily get into.
• ANTIFREEZE: Dogs actually think antifreeze tastes sweet. So they won’t hesitate to ingest it.
• DE-ICERS: If a dog licks his/her paws after walking on de-icer in the street or in the driveway, the chemical can lead to poisoning.
• FERTILIZERS: A lot of dogs like the smell of fertilizer, rich in phosphorus and nitrogen that are toxic for them. Cocoa mulch will combine the dangers of fertilizer and chocolate.
OTHER HOUSEHOLD TOXINS
• BATTERIES: Don’t leave batteries lying around in the house. If your inquisitive dog chews on them, he/she is risking mouth ulcers, throat and stomach issues from the battery acid.
• FABRIC SOFTENER SHEETS: The chemicals contained in fabric softener sheets are not good for your pet’s health. They may have fun playing with stray sheets of softeners or chewing on them, and get poisoned by accident. Detergents are harmful for dogs too. Maybe it is a good idea to laundry-proof your home altogether and store all laundry products in hard-to-reach places to avoid any untoward incidents.
• PLANTS: Indoor plants not only make a living space look great, they purify the surrounding air too. But when you’re bringing a new dog home, you have to be aware that some indoor plants are actually toxic for your pets.
(We will do a separate blog on this subject, because a lot of dog-owners are not aware that certain plants cannot live side-by-side with family pets.)
• RAWHIDE DOG CHEWS: This may sound strange to some, but rawhide chews can host dangerous bacteria like Salmonella that affects humans too.