Hazards in the home
Many of us are already aware of some of the more common dangers – such as don’t give chocolate to dogs, no weed-killer in the garden or anti-freeze in the water fountains. However, some of the most dangerous hazards are everyday household items that our pets seem drawn to, and just as we protect our children from hazardous substances, we need to be aware of the dangers to our pets too.
Chemicals, rat poison, antifreeze, fertilizers
Cleaning products often contain highly toxic chemicals so it's important to ensure that these are kept safely shut away from your pet. Pets like the smell and taste of antifreeze and windscreen washer. Tightly cover containers and wipe up any spills.
The risk of electrocution or oral burns from electrical cords is particularly relevant for puppies and kittens that have chewing tendencies so young pets should be monitored carefully and exposure to electric cords minimised.
Many house plants, including dieffenbachia, elephant ear, spider plants and more are poisonous if eaten. Remove them or put them out of reach in hanging baskets. Some outdoor plants, like ivy and oleander, can be poisonous to pets.
Windows and balconies
Screen windows to guard against falls and don't let pets out on balconies.
Only ever give your pet medicines that have been prescribed by your vet. Human painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol can be particularly dangerous for dogs and cats. In addition vitamin and mineral supplements can be dangerous so ensure these are kept out of your pets reach.
If your pet has been prescribed medicine by the vet ensure you follow the instructions on the packaging carefully and if you aren't sure, better to be on the safe side and call your vet to double check. If the medicine has been designed to be palatable, it is important to make sure that these are stored away from your pet as they may prove to be too tempting!
If the battery is chewed and pierced it can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning. If they are swallowed whole it is possible they will cause an obstruction. All batteries are potentially toxic so if you suspect your dog has chewed or swallowed a battery speak to your local vet.
All coins should be kept away from your pet particularly pennies as they are made with zinc which is toxic to animals if ingested.
These pose a danger of choking or suffocation to your pet so ensure plastic bags are kept out of paws reach.
To reduce the risks posed by shredders, keep the shredder turned off when unattended and only operate it when your pet is not present, don't use a shredder to shred food wrappers and if possible opt for a shredder with a protective bar or cover to minimise the potential danger.
Just like humans, pets are vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning, which is why we should ensure fuel-fired heaters are correctly maintained. This is particularly relevant if your dog sleeps next to the boiler or any other area where carbon monoxide may be present. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, remove the patient to fresh air immediately and contact your vet (symptoms include drowsiness, lethargy and weakness). You can purchase carbon monoxide detectors cheaply in most hardware stores.
Washing machines, tumble dryers, toilets, ovens and irons
Keep washing machine and tumble dryers closed as your pet may climb in and become trapped. Always check before you put a load on. Keep toilet lids down to stop your pet falling in and don’t leave your pet around hot ovens or irons.
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not
a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a
guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment
immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are
closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more
about what to do in an out of hours emergency.