While it’s wonderful for our furry friends to be able to examine their territory, it’s very easy for them to accidentally stumble upon something you may not want them getting their paws on. Picture: PourquoiPas/Pixabay.
While it’s wonderful for our furry friends to be able to examine their territory, it’s very easy for them to accidentally stumble upon something you may not want them getting their paws on. Picture: PourquoiPas/Pixabay.

Fur parents, be warned - everyday household items can be harmful and poisonous to pets

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Sep 23, 2021

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In the home, garden and on the street, if you have pets being aware of the hidden dangers of poison could help save their lives.

Sniffing, licking, nibbling and gnawing on anything from new toys to potted plants and even the bin bag – when it comes to exploring their surroundings, pets love to use their noses and mouths to investigate.

While it’s wonderful for our furry friends to be able to examine their territory, it’s very easy for them to accidentally stumble upon something you may not want them getting their paws on.

From running into traffic to choking on a bone, pets can get into all sorts of trouble when your head is turned. However, a quick online search will reveal that accidental poisonings are one of the greatest threats to pets because most of the time, these harmful toxins are hidden around the home.

The toxins and poisons found in households that pets should be kept away from:

  • Antifreeze
  • Bleach or bleach-based cleaners
  • Carpet or rug cleaner/shampoo/deodorizer
  • Essential oils
  • Plant fertiliser
  • Glue, other adhesives
  • Laundry or dishwasher detergent
  • Paint, solvents, spackle
  • Rat/mouse/slug bait or other insecticides
  • Vinegar (plain or mixed with water)
  • Window cleaner

In cases of poisonings, prevention is better than cure, so it is vital that pet owners take the necessary measures to keep their pets out of harm’s way.

A good first step is to assess dangers to your pets at home and infrequently visited areas like parks:

Ensure all cleaning supplies, arts and craft products, medication, alcohol and anything else you don’t want your pet getting into are stored away safely, out of their reach.

If you have a curious cat that enjoys climbing up onto furniture and shelves or a mischievous dog with a knack for opening draws and doors, use a child lock to keep dangerous items securely stashed away.

While you may think the greatest danger to your dog while on your daily walk is cars or an untrained pooch, pay careful attention to the path that you walk on, especially on the floor. You may come across garbage on the sidewalk that your dog could easily rip into and ingest the contents before you can stop them.

If your house has a garden or your house has plants, make sure they are not poisonous to dogs, especially if you leave them unattended. Foods that are completely edible for humans can also be fatal to dogs.

From barking to alert us of intruders to offering emotional support, dogs are our companions and protectors, but in some instances, we need to do our best to shield them from danger. According to Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, Director at the Griffon Poison Information Centre, statistics from 2019 revealed that over 1000 dogs are poisoned every week in South Africa, some of them in relation to burglaries. That’s over 50 000 dogs per year.

“Unfortunately, pets across South Africa are poisoned by criminals attempting to enter properties, so this is the first thing most pet owners worry about,” says Tarryn Dent, Diagnostic and Technical Manager for Companion Animals at Zoetis South Africa, a global animal health company.

It’s a devastating reality for pet owners and one that has caused much heartache. For your pet’s safety, Dent said: “Where possible, we advise that owners keep their dogs inside at night, or at the very least in an area that is inaccessible from the road or a boundary wall. It’s also a good idea to regularly inspect your yard for anything out of place so that if poisoned food is tossed over your wall, you can find it and dispose of it before your dog sniffs it out.”

The following symptoms may indicate that your dog has been poisoned:

  • Agitation
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Diarrhoea

If your pet is experiencing any of the above symptoms, or they have ingested something that you know is poisonous to them (or is simply just disagreeing with them physically), take urgent action by rushing them to a vet so they may be monitored and treated.

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