Every year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals releases its Top Toxins List based on statistics gathered from the Animal Poison Control Center which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This information is vitally important to pet owners, veterinarians, and shelters nationwide and helps keep dogs, cats, and other animals healthy and safe. The toxins holding the top three spots on the list for 2017 were human prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and food (mostly xylitol, an artificial sweetener), which are among the many common household hazards to dogs.
In addition, many other drugs, chemicals, household cleaners, and objects pose a potential danger to our canine pals. Safety-proofing your home is a simple matter of identifying the hazards, then eliminating certain things from your dog's environment, making sure everything toxic is stored well out of reach and ideally behind locked doors, supervising toy or bone-chewing sessions, and keeping an eye on your pup even when he's in your fenced yard. Many dogs have a quirky habit of getting into trouble when no one is watching.
Objects a dog may ingest
Keeping your dog out of harm's way is a lot more than flagging the obvious dangers. Your pooch likely loves to chew, but if she's been part of the family for a while, she thankfully ignores your shoes, as tempting as may be. But how about newly introduced items or candles, cardboard boxes, tissue, socks, batteries, kid's toys and stuffed animals, fabric softener sheets, and the list continues with supposedly dog-safe bones, rawhide chews (also poses a salmonella risk), and fetch toys.
Make sure that chewables —anything that can get stuck in your dog's digestive tract — are inaccessible, otherwise, one small piece could necessitate emergency surgical removal and a hefty vet bill. When giving even vet-approved chews, keep your eye on your dog while she chomps down. Bottom line, you should carefully monitor the storage, handout, use, and life of chews, throwing them out when they've had the biscuit. And after playtime, remove frisbees and balls in case your dog decides to keep the game going by chewing on her toys.
Adult dogs are usually pretty savvy around electrical wires, but if you have a puppy or newly adopted dog, you may need to block access to wires until she's completely trained. In the meantime, cord covers can help prevent an accident.
Keeping trash off your dog's menu can sometimes be a full-time job. But brimming with so many potentially dangerous leftover food items such as plastic and styrofoam food packaging slathered with meat juices, soft, splinter-ready bones and rotting foods laden with mold and bacteria, garbage needs to always be safely out of reach.
Plants that are poisonous to dogs
Munching on grass or other foliage outside is a favorite pastime for many dogs. But some houseplants are poisonous or have adverse reactions when a dog ingests them. Take aloe vera, for example, its leaves chockful of skin-soothing gel used by humans for centuries. But the plant also contains chemicals that irritate a dog's digestive tract. Other plants to avoid in your household are:
- Jade plant (rubber plant).
- Dieffenbachia aka "Dumb Cane."
- Epipremnum Aureum, aka "Pothos" or "Devil's Ivy."
- Sago palm, from the seeds and the roots to the leaves, are poisonous and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and liver failure.
- Zamioculcas aka "ZZ Plant."
- Caladium aka "Elephant Ear."
- Dracaena aka "corn plant."
- Asparagus fern.
Foods that are poisonous to dogs
- Grapes and raisins.
- Products containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener, such as gum.
- Onions and garlic.
- Coffee grounds.
- Macadamia nuts.
Drugs, chemicals and sundries that are poisonous to dogs
- Narcotics and marijuana.
- Human prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, such as Acetaminophen in Tylenol.
- Overdosing of drugs prescribed for your dog, especially tasty chewable meds.
- Rodenticides (rat and mice poison).
- Weed killers (herbicides).
- Mineral spirits.
- Polyurethane adhesives.
- Common kitchen and bath surface cleaners, carpet cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners.
- Treated toilet water.
- Plant, flower, and lawn fertilizers.
- Ice-melting products.
- Mothballs and potpourri products.
- Toothpaste, hand soap, and sunscreen.
- Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.