Many dangers face your pet in the outside world but, ironically, there are many harmful things lurking within your own home.
Dogs and cats are naturally curious so make sure they don’t come into contact with food that has accidently been dropped onto the floor or is within easy reach.
The list includes avocado, alcohol, coffee, all forms of chocolate (which contains a substance called theobromine, along with caffeine, making it toxic to dogs and cats), onions, salt, garlic, mouldy or spoilt food and products sweetened with xylitol – found in candies, gum, baked goods, and toothpaste.
Avocados are toxic to a number of animals, including horses, rabbits, fish and mice. The toxic effects are due to the compound persin which in some animals causes damage to the heart muscle cells leading to heart failure.
The toxicity of avocado to dogs is under question but until the susceptibility of dogs to persin is further investigated it’s best to avoid dogs eating it. Avocado is a common ingredient in summer salads and guacamole sauce.
Naturally you should ensure your waste food is kept safe so curious pets can’t get harmed by chicken bones or discarded tins so buy waste bins with tight lids, or keep them behind closed doors.
Cats in particular like nibbling on plants but, be careful what you choose, as some are toxic – lilies, for example. A cat just has to brush past a lily and get pollen on its coat which it then licks off whilst grooming to become poisoned. This is why many cat owners won’t have lilies in the home or they cut the pollen carrying stamen off the flower and carefully discard them. Other dangerous plants include mistletoe, oleander, English Ivy and tulip bulbs.
Some pets drink from the toilet bowl but cleaners have caustic chemicals that burn the mouth and oesophageal lining so ensure you flush the toilet several times after cleaning and close the lid, or switch to non-toxic cleaners.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications top the list of pet poisons. Animals snatch pills from worktops and they’re also quick to lap up medicine spilt onto the floor so always keep these in places that cats and dogs can’t access and mop up any spillages. Particularly beware of pets licking medicated cream off your skin.
Pets actually love the sweet taste of antifreeze (ethylene glycol), which they may encounter if it leaks in the garage or onto the driveway. A teaspoonful is all it takes to kill a cat so keep it locked away and wipe away spillages immediately.
Taking these few simple precautions ensures your pet can run around your home freely, playing and enjoying life, yet you get the peace of mind that it’s kept safe at all times.