Anticipating household dangers can save your pet's life

POSTED: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 12:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 11:39am

(StatePoint) Household pets are adorably curious, but they can't read labels or plant their own gardens.

One of the biggest mistakes pet owners can make is to underestimate a pet's curiosity and overlook dangers of common household items, both indoors and outdoors. It's up to us to read labels for them, make sure cleaning chemicals and other toxins are out of reach and maintain gardens that stimulate our pets' curiosity with safety in mind.

"Responsible pet ownership is about more than feeding your pet nutritious meals and going on walks. It's more holistic -- it's a lot like caring for a child," says Dr. Tiffany Bierer, health and nutritional sciences manager at Mars Petcare US. "You need to anticipate certain dangers and remove them from the realm of possibility. That's what we did in our office and it only takes a little effort to do the same at home."

Mars Petcare US, knows all about designing spaces with pet safety as a top priority, particularly when it comes to common toxins. Safety measures are fundamental since the company's employees are encouraged to bring their dogs to work each day. But the type of thoughtful and preventative planning they've deployed throughout their office isn't reserved only for pet food companies -- it's within reach for every pet owner in their own homes.

As such, pet owners could borrow a few tips from the makers of Pedigree, Cesar and Sheba pet foods:

o Be mindful of toxic plants. Many common plants, such as Azaleas, Oleander, Daffodils, Lilies, Tulips and Hyacinth, are toxic to pets and should be avoided in indoor and outdoor areas where pets are free to roam. Many mushrooms also present dangers, including death. It's important to do your research since mushrooms can be difficult to identify.

o Use caution when applying garden poisons, insecticides and fertilizers. Many gardeners use traps for small rodents, snails and slugs. These are extremely toxic if consumed, requiring immediate veterinary attention.

o Most over-the-counter insecticides and fertilizers can upset a pet's stomach, but some contain more dangerous chemicals that can cause death if consumed. It's important to follow directions when applying a chemical to your yard and keep pets away from the area. Inform neighbors when applying insecticides and fertilizers since these products can drift in light winds, and always store them in controlled areas.

o Always store household cleaning supplies in controlled spaces. Like insecticides and fertilizers, household cleaners should be stored in controlled spaces since they can cause death very quickly. Batteries, fire logs and glue should also be kept out of reach of pets.

o Keep toxic foods and medicines out of reach. Chocolate, raisins, sugar-free gum, star fruit and grapes are toxic to pets and should be kept out of reach, just like ibuprofen and amphetamine medications.

"Following these tips is the next best thing to teaching pets to read labels," says Dr. Bierer. "It not only makes your home a safer place for your pets, it makes it safer overall."

If you suspect your pet has consumed a toxic substance, immediately contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline at 800-231-6680. To learn more about preparing your home for pets, visit www.banfield.com or www.petpoisonhelpline.com.

A little preparation can help ensure your pet's safety.

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