Household Health Hazards
substances kept in the average household are toxic to pets,
reports resident veterinarian Debbye Turner on
The Saturday Early Show.
Although it is common sense to store medications, cleaning
agents, detergents and household chemicals out of reach of
children and pets, there are other items that are extremely
harmful to pets that we may not see as dangerous substances.
Listed below are some very harmful household hazards,
accompanied by some information on why they are toxic and
what effect they can have on your pets.
Dana Farbman, a licensed veterinary technician and senior
manager of client and professional relations at the ASPCA,
supplied this information.
NONSTICK COOKING SPRAY:
Depending on the formulation, these aerosol sprays contain
hydrocarbons, which are volatile substances. Some of the
early signs of ingestion in your pet include an upset
stomach. A high amount can lead to respiratory tract
problems and a condition known as aspiration pneumonia (an
inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes caused by
inhaling foreign material).
One thing you don't want to do is induce vomiting if your
pet has ingested cooking spray or fumes from a nonstick
cooking surface, because you could double the risk by
forcing your pet to bring these substances back up again.
Birds are very sensitive to cooking sprays because they have
a unique respiratory tract that makes them very susceptible
to irritation, so be really careful not only with cooking
sprays but anything coming from an aerosol container when
If yeast dough is ingested it can expand, rise in the
stomach, and can present a dangerous risk to your pet's
intestinal system, such as an intestinal rupture. Also,
alcohol fermentation may take place in your pet's stomach
and if there's enough ingested it can lead to alcohol
poisoning. Any pet is at risk. Keep an eye out for signs of
gastrointestinal irritation - vomiting, diarrhea and
The harmful substances like theobromine and the caffeine
found in coffee grounds are very similar to those in
chocolate and often produce the same side effects. Look out
for vomiting and diarrhea. In addition your pet may
experience hyperactivity, increased heart rate, seizures,
tremors and possibly even death, depending on the amount
We've only seen a negative reaction from these nuts in dogs
and we don't know all that much about why they are
dangerous, but we would recommend keeping them away from all
pets. It's an interesting phenomenon - if enough are
ingested (and as little as a handful can be seen as
dangerous), we see weakness in hind legs and can see the
gastrointestinal effects - vomiting, diarrhea and drooling.
These nuts can also affect the central nervous system and
cause depression and muscle tremors. Generally signs resolve
in 48 hours with proper care and treatment.
TOMATO AND POTATO:
The red, ripe fruit of the tomato is edible and may cause
nothing more than stomach irritation to pets with sensitive
stomachs. It's the green part of the tomato or a green
unripe tomato and the plant part - the stem, the leaves,
etc., that is hazardous. Tomatoes and potatoes are in the
same family of plants, so both have similar side effects if
the green part of the plant is ingested. Again, depending on
the amount ingested you will see the common gastrointestinal
effects - vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. In addition to
these signs, look for decreased heart rate and drooling.
The most common species of avocados is the species that is
particularly hazardous for birds, rabbits and mice
particularly, but also dangerous to other pets like dogs and
cats. Ingestion usually leads to cardiovascular problems and
can cause fluid accumulation around the heart and severe
respiratory distress. Avocados contain a toxin known as
persin and should be kept away from all pets.
RAHWIDE DOGGIE CHEWS:
The level of danger of these chews can depend on individual
animal eating and chewing habits. Some dogs can handle these
chews well, others can't. If your dog tends to eat in large
chunks, then you should keep these chews away from them
because they're liable to ingest a large chunk and it can
get caught in your pet's digestive tract.
Also, a wet, gooey rawhide laying around can grow bacteria
and that will cause GI effects. Whether or not you should
keep rawhide doggie chews away from depends on each
individual dog. Also, its probably smart to check on where
the chew was manufactured - we don't know all that much
about the ingredients contained in chews manufactured in
foreign countries, but are pretty familiar with the
ingredients in American-made chews.
Dental floss is particularly hazardous to cats and kittens
because they love to play with stringy things. Be careful
with this if your pet tends to get into the trash.
Obviously, a foreign substance like floss can cause an
obstruction of the digestive system.
Apple seeds are in the same category as other fruits like
apples, cherries, peaches and apricots. The stems, leaves
and seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, and depending on
the dose, you will see not only the common gastrointestinal
effects but weakness in coordination and difficulty
breathing. In some extreme cases, animals can go into shock
or coma and can even result in death. The toxic ingredients
are contained in the center of the seeds, so be sure keep
your pet from chewing or crushing the seeds with their
teeth. Another interesting thing to point out is that the
level of toxicity can depend on growing conditions. If it's
a stressful growing environment for an apple tree, the level
of toxicity may be less than if the tree was growing in a
healthy environment. This makes it difficult to gauge how
much is a dangerous level.
ONIONS AND ONION POWDER:
Onions, garlic and chives are all part of the allium
species. Any of plants can produce similar effects. Look for
the common gastrointestinal effects and trouble breathing.
In addition, these substances can see significant damage to
a pet's red blood cells. Cats can be particularly sensitive
but it is dangerous to cats, dogs and birds.
RAISINS AND GRAPES:
Although we don't know much about why grapes and raisins are
dangerous, we do know ingestion can harm the kidney. We
don't know much about the dangers with regards to ingestion
levels either, so its best to keep grapes and raisins away
from your pets, period.
De-icing salts are potentially hazardous to any pet, but
particularly dangerous to dogs because they are frequently
outdoors. It contains an ingredient called calcium carbonate and
it acts as in irritant to the skin on a dog's paw pads. If the
dog licks its pads and ingests the salt, one of the side effects
is gastrointestinal irritation. Symptoms of this include
vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. More serious side effects,
depending on the level of ingestion, include excessive thirst,
depression, weakness in blood pressure and disorientation. The
most intense symptoms after a high level of ingestion are a
decrease in muscle function, seizures, comas and even death. If
you suspect exposure to de-icing salts, call your veterinarian
or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PET INGESTS ANY HAZARDOUS ITEMS:
First thing to do would be to call
your veterinarian and let him or her know the situation.
They can offer up some direction. Also, the ASPCA has an
Animal Poison Control Center, which operates a hotline
open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at
888-426-4435 for a fee of $45 per case. If
you call, you should be prepared with the following
information: the name of the poison your animal was exposed
to, the amount and how long ago, the species, breed, age,
sex, and weight of your pet, and the symptoms the animal is