Mar 19 2019

Poison Prevention: Four Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe

Here are some tips to protect our pets during National Poison Prevention Month.

Tip One: Store your household cleaning products in a safe place.

One of the most dreaded days has come, it is time to clean house and not just pick up but a full on deep clean. As you may know, many household cleaners are not suitable to be used around pets.

Did you Know? A dog’s teeth are strong enough to pierce the plastic container, so do not assume because the product is sealed that the risk is reduced.

If your pet is like my Watson and must be a part of everything you are doing, we use a pet gate to block off the stairs and clean one floor at a time to ensure he doesn’t have access to any of the cleaning products or cloths.

When your cleaning products are not in use, it is advisable to store your household cleaning products in a place where your dog cannot reach it such as a high cabinet or in a room your pet is not allowed like the laundry room.

Warning Signs of Possible Exposure to Cleaning Products:

  • Skin Irritation
  • Pain
  • Pawing at the mouth/eyes
  • Severe drooling
  • Not eating
  • Lethargy or malaise
  • Vomiting, diarrhea

Tip Two: Be careful when dispensing medications.

Cocker spaniel begging


My dog Watson is on allergy medicine, and he thinks every time he hears a pill bottle shake it is time for a “snack.” Your pet’s reflexes are faster than yours and to avoid your pet consuming medications, it is recommended to dispense over a counter or sink. Similarly, to that of a household cleaner bottle if determined enough a dog can chew its way through a pill bottle.

See Pet Poison Helpline’s list of Top Ten Human Medications that are Poisonous to Pets

Tip Three: Keep small items stored in plastic bags out of your pet’s reach

If it comes in a bag, it must be for him or at least that is Watson’s philosophy. In our household, we use plastic bags to store anything from batteries, board game tokens, and snacks. That said, most small items are hazardous to dogs.

Warning Signs of Possible Consumption of a Small Object:

  • Choking
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Not eating

Tip Four: Be mindful of your food storage.

Kitty looking for food


If you are like me, you have a dog and cat; our cat Chell is a master at finding any morsels of food on the counter. The instance I would like to share with you is a mistake my husband made. We used to keep chips and cookies in the microwave to keep them away from Chell. My husband took my macadamia nut cookie and a small bag of chips out of the microwave and set them on the counter. He used the microwave and brought his food into our office. During this time, Chell had knocked the cookie and chips on the floor, and it wasn’t long before Watson had eaten all the chips and the cookie.

You may know that macadamia nuts are poisonous to dogs; some characteristics of macadamia nut poisoning are vomiting, ataxia (difficulty walking, loss of coordination) or weakness, fever, muscle tremors and depression, it can even cause paralysis in their hind legs. Watson was fortunate enough only to have consumed a small amount and did not have any of these symptoms.

As a result, we have moved all of our snacks to the pantry, and we have become better at keeping food off of the counter when someone is not in the kitchen. If your pets are particularly nosey and good at getting into cabinets, I would recommend using baby proofing products to secure cabinet doors. 

However, if your pet does come in contact or consumes a harmful substance follow these simple steps:

  1. Take your pet away from the substance to avoid additional ingestion.
  2. Be sure to grab the container to describe to the veterinarian what was consumed
  3. Contact your veterinarian for further immediate recommendations.
    Pinellas Animal Hospital (727) 546-0005 or if it is after hours call Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Petersburg at (727) 323-1311.
  4. Do not try to make your pet vomit without talking to a veterinary professional first.

The problem is that pets do not know what is hazardous to them and what is a sweet-smelling treat; it is up to us as pet owners to be aware of our surroundings and to be conscious of where our pets are to eliminate their risk of exposure to a potential hazard.

feldhakeg | Pet Health

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