Household items that can be dangerous to pets

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

There's more to being a pet owner than keeping your furry friend up to date on vaccines and providing them with healthy food and treats. Part of pet ownership means taking safety precautions around your home. For example, did you know that certain foods, household items, chemicals, plants and even window screens can pose a danger to your pet? Read on to learn more about the items that could be dangerous to your pet, and get safety tips in case your furry friend is in danger.

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Avoid giving your dog or cat certain foods

You may be wondering whether your dog can eat things like bananas, grapes or strawberries. It's a good idea to think twice and do some research before sharing food from your plate with your pet. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), some common human food products can be bad for dogs and cats, including avocado, chocolate, onions, grapes and even milk. A pet that eats the wrong food may experience symptoms including muscle seizures, vomiting and skin problems, says ASPCA. Feel like giving your pet a human food treat? You may want to consult with your veterinarian to see which foods are generally safe for your pet to eat.

Secure window screens

Pets looking out an open window (especially those on the second floor or higher) can be at risk for falling. The ASPCA recommends installing sturdy window screens and making sure they fit tightly in the window. The ASPCA adds that childproof window guards may not be enough to keep a pet from falling out of a window, as cats and smaller dogs may still be able to slip through or behind them. As a general safety precaution, it's a good idea to keep an eye on pets while they are on patios or balconies.

Protect your pet from ice-melting chemicals

If snow and ice are in the forecast for your area this winter, think twice before reaching for the ice-melting chemicals. Ice-melting pellets on your sidewalk or outdoor stairs can get on your dog's paws if he steps on them and irritate their paws and skin, says PetMD. Your pet's skin and/or paws may develop dryness and irritation, or he could get ill from licking the chemicals from his paws, according to the National Capital Poison Center. If your pet shows signs of illness after walks during snowy or icy weather, call your veterinarian right away.

To help keep your pooch's paws safe from ice-melting chemicals during winter, the ASPCA suggests washing your dog's paws and stomach once you get home from a walk or having him wear booties to protect his feet.

Plant your garden with your pet's safety in mind

If you have a green thumb, keep in mind that many plants may be dangerous to pets. Azaleas, tulips and sago palms are just a few plants that can cause gastrointestinal issues if your pet ingests them, according to the ASPCA.

Hazards for pets in the yard may also extend beyond certain plants. While pesticides can be beneficial in deterring pests, some pesticides may be harmful if your pet ingests them. All pesticides should be used and stored properly, according to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC). The NPIC shares the following tips to help keep your pet safe:

  • Remove pets, pet toys, food bowls and bedding from the area before applying pesticides.
  • Keep pets away from treated areas until the pesticide is completely dry.
  • Read and follow directions on the label when using pesticides.

If you use a lawn service for yard maintenance, the NPIC also suggests telling the service team that you have pets so proper care can be taken if chemicals are applied. If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, you can call the NPIC at 800-858-7378.

Get to your pet's eye level

It's not always obvious if a household item could pose a potential danger to your pet. When in doubt, This Old House suggests getting down to your pet's eye level to look for potentially dangerous items. These may include dangling electrical or window treatment cords that are within reach, cleaning supplies that are not put away and trash cans that may be easy for your pet to access.

Call in case of an emergency

Do you know what to do if your pet ingests an item that's harmful to him? The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests looking for signs that your pet may have eaten something poisonous, including a sudden change in behavior, diarrhea and vomiting. If you think your pet may have ingested something poisonous, call your pet's veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 (just remember that you may need to pay a consultation fee).

You may not always be able to protect your pet from every dangerous item. But, with a little bit of planning and research, you can help create a safe environment for your furry friend and minimize their risk of getting hurt.