Although it is common sense to store medications, cleaning agents, detergents and household chemicals out of reach of children and pets, there are other items that are extremely harmful to pets that we may not see as dangerous substances.
Listed below are some very harmful household hazards, accompanied by some information on why they are toxic and what effect they can have on your pets.
Dana Farbman, a licensed veterinary technician and senior manager of client and professional relations at the ASPCA, supplied this information.
De-icing salts are potentially hazardous to any pet, but particularly dangerous to dogs because they are frequently outdoors. It acts as in irritant to the skin on a dog's paw pads. If the dog licks its pads and ingests the salt, one of the side effects is gastrointestinal irritation. Symptoms of this include vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. More serious side effects, depending on the level of ingestion, include excessive thirst, depression, weakness in blood pressure and disorientation. The most intense symptoms after a high level of ingestion are a decrease in muscle function, seizures, comas and even death. If you suspect exposure to de-icing salts, call your veterinarian or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
NONSTICK COOKING SPRAY:
Depending on the formulation, these aerosol sprays contain hydrocarbons, which are volatile substances. Some of the early signs of ingestion in your pet include an upset stomach. A high amount can lead to respiratory tract problems and a condition known as aspiration pneumonia (an inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes caused by inhaling foreign material).
One thing you don't want to do is induce vomiting if your pet has ingested cooking spray or fumes from a nonstick cooking surface, because you could double the risk by forcing your pet to bring these substances back up again.
Birds are very sensitive to cooking sprays because they have a unique respiratory tract that makes them very susceptible to irritation, so be really careful not only with cooking sprays but anything coming from an aerosol container when around birds.
If yeast dough is ingested it can expand, rise in the stomach, and can present a dangerous risk to your pet's intestinal system, such as an intestinal rupture. Also, alcohol fermentation may take place in your pet's stomach and if there's enough ingested it can lead to alcohol poisoning. Any pet is at risk. Keep an eye out for signs of gastrointestinal irritation - vomiting, diarrhea and drooling.
The harmful substances like theobromine and the caffeine found in coffee grounds are very similar to those in chocolate and often produce the same side effects. Look out for vomiting and diarrhea. In addition your pet may experience hyperactivity, increased heart rate, seizures, tremors and possibly even death, depending on the amount ingested.
We've only seen a negative reaction from these nuts in dogs and we don't know all that much about why they are dangerous, but we would recommend keeping them away from all pets. It's an interesting phenomenon - if enough are ingested (and as little as a handful can be seen as dangerous), we see weakness in hind legs and can see the gastrointestinal effects - vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. These nuts can also affect the central nervous system and cause depression and muscle tremors. Generally signs resolve in 48 hours with proper care and treatment.
TOMATO AND POTATO:
The red, ripe fruit of the tomato is edible and may cause nothing more than stomach irritation to pets with sensitive stomachs. It's the green part of the tomato or a green unripe tomato and the plant part - the stem, the leaves, etc., that is hazardous. Tomatoes and potatoes are in the same family of plants, so both have similar side effects if the green part of the plant is ingested. Again, depending on the amount ingested you will see the common gastrointestinal effects - vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. In addition to these signs, look for decreased heart rate and drooling.
The most common species of avocados is the species that is particularly hazardous for birds, rabbits and mice particularly, but also dangerous to other pets like dogs and cats. Ingestion usually leads to cardiovascular problems and can cause fluid accumulation around the heart and severe respiratory distress. Avocados contain a toxin known as persin and should be kept away from all pets.
RAHWIDE DOGGIE CHEWS:
The level of danger of these chews can depend on individual animal eating and chewing habits. Some dogs can handle these chews well, others can't. If your dog tends to eat in large chunks, then you should keep these chews away from them because they're liable to ingest a large chunk and it can get caught in your pet's digestive tract.
Also, a wet, gooey rawhide laying around can grow bacteria and that will cause GI effects. Whether or not you should keep rawhide doggie chews away from depends on each individual dog. Also, its probably smart to check on where the chew was manufactured - we don't know all that much about the ingredients contained in chews manufactured in foreign countries, but are pretty familiar with the ingredients in American-made chews.
Dental floss is particularly hazardous to cats and kittens because they love to play with stringy things. Be careful with this if your pet tends to get into the trash. Obviously, a foreign substance like floss can cause an obstruction of the digestive system.
Apple seeds are in the same category as other fruits like apples, cherries, peaches and apricots. The stems, leaves and seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, and depending on the dose, you will see not only the common gastrointestinal effects but weakness in coordination and difficulty breathing. In some extreme cases, animals can go into shock or coma and can even result in death. The toxic ingredients are contained in the center of the seeds, so be sure keep your pet from chewing or crushing the seeds with their teeth. Another interesting thing to point out is that the level of toxicity can depend on growing conditions. If it's a stressful growing environment for an apple tree, the level of toxicity may be less than if the tree was growing in a healthy environment. This makes it difficult to gauge how much is a dangerous level.
ONIONS AND ONION POWDER:
Onions, garlic and chives are all part of the allium species. Any of plants can produce similar effects. Look for the common gastrointestinal effects and trouble breathing. In addition, these substances can see significant damage to a pet's red blood cells. Cats can be particularly sensitive but it is dangerous to cats, dogs and birds.
Although we don't know much about why grapes and raisins are dangerous, we do know ingestion can harm the kidney. We don't know much about the dangers with regards to ingestion levels either, so its best to keep grapes and raisins away from your pets, period.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PET INGESTS ANY HAZARDOUS ITEMS:
First thing to do would be to call your veterinarian and let him or her know the situation. They can offer up some direction. Also, the ASPCA has an Animal Poison Control Center, which operates a hotline open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-426-4435 for a fee of $45 per case. If you call, you should be prepared with the following information: the name of the poison your animal was exposed to, the amount and how long ago, the species, breed, age, sex, and weight of your pet, and the symptoms the animal is displaying.