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Common Dangers for Cats and Dogs


FACTSHEET

 

 

 
 

Overview

Common Dangers
for Cats and Dogs

Preparing for a Disaster

If an Animal Is Lost

If You See Animal Abuse

 

  

Poisoning

Danger signs are: listlessness, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, seizures, lack of coordination, fever.

If you suspect that your companion animal has ingested anything hazardous, first try to identify the poison. Then call a veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital to ask if you should induce vomiting or if you should bring the animal for treatment.

Israel
Call the 24-hour veterinary hospital in Rishon LeZion: 03-9688588.

U.S.
Call the National Animal Poison Control Center: 800-548-2423 or the
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center:
888-426-4435.

Introduction

Household Cleaning Products

Pesticides & Herbicides/Fungicides

Human Medications

Antifreeze/Coolant

Plants & Foods Toxic to Animals

Hot Weather Dangers

Freezing Weather Dangers

Small Objects — Danger of Choking

String, Yarn, Thread, Floss

Dangling Curtain Cords

Electrical Cords

Plastic Bags

Washing Machine and Dryer

Screens, Doors, Windows

Fireworks & Other Noises

Tethering

Riding in the Back of a Pickup Truck

 

Introduction

Like children, animal companions can sometimes put their health in danger by coming in contact with the potential poisons and hazards found in a typical household. In addition, you may inadvertently endanger your animal. Some of the risks are obvious, such as toxic chemicals, while you may find others more surprising. Take the same precautions with a cat or dog that you would with a small child. In case of emergency, be sure to have the contact information for your veterinarian and also for the nearest 24-hour veterinary clinic in a quickly accessible location. If you leave your animal in the care of someone else while you are away, make sure they have an emergency number to call.

 

Household Cleaning Products

Keep your cat or dog away when cleaning. If you must use bleach or other toxic cleansers, dilute them before using and be sure to rinse thoroughly. Never use Lysol, the fumes of which can be fatal to cats. Your safest option would be to switch to a non-toxic, natural cleaner. Several are on the market, and most are not tested on animals. Or you can use the following:

  • Baking soda works well as a natural cleaner and deodorizer. To polish tarnished silverware, bathtubs, stainless steel, or toilets, make a paste by mixing half baking soda and half water.

  • White vinegar cleans grease and certain stains. Cider vinegar, grapefruit seed extract, and tea tree oil are natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agents.

  • Plain soap is a good cleaner, and less toxic to animals than some other cleaning supplies. Just be sure to check the labels for toxic additives.

If paint or tar gets on your cat or dog, never try to remove it with turpentine or kerosene, which will burn the animal's skin. Use vegetable oil or margarine instead, which you can then wash off with mild soap and water.

 

Pesticides and Herbicides/Fungicides

Pesticides and herbicides or fungicides are poisons, and they can be toxic to cats and dogs.

  • Flea and Tick Products
    Insecticides are used in many over-the-counter flea and tick products. Cats are particularly sensitive to certain chemicals and can get seizures or even die from products intended for dogs. Be sure to consult your veterinarian before using any flea and tick products, and always follow the instructions on the label very carefully.
    See Cats Flea and Tick Control and Dogs Flea and Tick Control.
     

  • Indoor and Outdoor Pesticides and Outdoor Herbicides/Fungicides
    The use of any insecticides inside the home, or, if your animals play outdoors, plant food, fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides or fungicides can be deadly to your cat or dog. Choose only non-toxic home and gardening products.

 

Human Medications

Pain killers, cold medicines, specific cancer drugs, antidepressants, diet pills, and different ointments and creams can all be toxic and potentially fatal to cats and dogs. Examples are paracetamol/acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil). Even a small amount of ordinary aspirin can kill a cat. Keep medicine containers in a secure location, and be careful to pick up any pills dropped on the floor.

 

Antifreeze/Coolant

The most commonly used chemical in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, is extremely toxic to both cats and dogs. Ingesting even a very small amount can cause severe kidney damage. Many animals are attracted to the sweet taste of ethylene glycol. Clean up antifreeze spills immediately and check your car for leaks often. Antifreeze/coolant products containing propylene glycol are less toxic.

 

Plants and Foods Toxic to Animals

Hundreds of plants produce enough toxins to poison a cat or a dog. Even grass can be dangerous if it has been treated with chemicals. Cats enjoy nibbling on catnip or oat grass, and both are safe. Some ordinary foods also can be poisonous to cats or dogs.

Plants Toxic to Animals

Potentially Dangerous Foods

 

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Hot Weather Dangers

  • Heat Stroke
    Some animals are at higher risk than humans for heat stroke. Dogs are especially at risk because their bodies conserve heat. They have sweat glands only on their nose and footpads. Although panting and drinking water helps cool them, a dog breathing only very hot air can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes in the heat. Short-nosed breeds, puppies, overweight and older dogs are extremely susceptible to heat stroke. Heat coupled with high humidity can be especially dangerous. Even with fresh water and shade available, don't allow your dog to remain outside in the heat for long periods of time. Especially, don't allow him to exercise vigorously in the heat for a prolonged period of time.
     
    If your animal companion shows signs of heat stroke — heavy panting, a rapid heartbeat, excessive thirst, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, or unconsciousness — take immediate action. Cool the animal down immediately with cool, not cold, water. Then take your dog or cat to the veterinarian or veterinary emergency center as soon as possible.
     

  • Sunburn
    Cats and dogs can get sunburned too, and your animal companion may require sunscreen on the nose and ear tips. Animals with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer.
     

  • Hot Pavements
    Be aware that the outdoor surface on which you walk your dog might become excessively hot and hurt or even burn your dog's paws.
     

  • Confinement in a Car
    Never leave your animal companion confined in a car. During hot weather, this can be fatal. Although it may seem cool outside, the sun can raise the temperature inside your car to a lethal degree in a matter of minutes, even with the windows rolled down enough for fresh air to enter. The problem is so serious that in some locations the police and animal control personnel are authorized to break the window of a car to rescue an animal on a hot day.
     

  • Swimming Pools
    Install cat- and dog-proof fencing around your pool. If an animal falls or jumps in, even if she can swim it is likely to be impossible for her to climb out by herself. And even if she has learned to find the stairs, she may be too exhausted to reach them by the time she realizes she must get out. Also, be sure to keep all pool chemicals securely out of reach.

 

Freezing Weather Dangers

  • De-icing Salts
    These salts can irritate paws, and when licked off, they can be poisonous. Be sure to wash your cat or dog's paws off if he or she comes in contact with de-icing salts.
     

  • Snow
    Remove packed snow and ice from between your dog's toes. Don't wait for it to melt by itself.

 

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Small Objects — Danger of Choking

Unfortunately, cats and dogs swallowing small foreign objects is a fairly common and sometimes fatal event, which probably could have been prevented. Any object which can pose a choking hazard, or which can cause obstruction or laceration of the stomach or intestines, should be kept securely out of reach. Here are just a few examples:

  • Toys with removable parts, such as small plastic eyes

  • Commercial dog chews/bones that can be chewed until only a small piece remains (Note: in addition to the danger of choking, rawhide chews can also harbor Salmonella bacteria.)

  • Bones from poultry or fish and any bones that can splinter (even very strong knuckle or marrow bones can splinter eventually)

  • Rubber bands, coins, twist ties for plastic bags (all of which cats enjoy)

  

String, Yarn, Thread, and Floss

If your cat or dog swallows a stringy foreign body, take him to the vet immediately. Be especially careful of dental floss because it has a sweet smell and a dog will lick it up. Strings will not move through the digestive system and can cut through the intestines or esophagus. Sometimes the intestines will bunch up around the string. If your cat or dog has symptoms of intestinal obstruction, such as persistent vomiting and anorexia, it might be necessary to do exploratory surgery to find and remove the swallowed string, yarn, or thread. Keep these objects out of your cat or dog's reach.

 

Dangling Curtain Cords

Many cats and puppies love to play with these dangling string cords. However, a curtain cord can pose a threat. If the cord gets caught around the animal's neck, it will strangle her. Make sure to tie up your hanging cords and hide them from view.

 

Electrical Cords

Cover up or hide electrical cords. Cats have a tendency to play with them, which can pull down lamps or other appliances. Chewing or playing with an electric cord may result in electric shock. Never touch an animal who is touching an exposed electric wire. Turn off the current and then use a dry stick to get the cat or dog away from the wire. Get veterinary help as fast as possible.

 

Plastic Bags

While many cats and puppies love playing in large bags, never allow your animal companion to play with plastic bags. They pose the same danger of suffocation to a small animal as they do to a child. A paper bag is fine — but remember to check inside the bag before moving it!

 

Washing Machine and Dryer

These machines can be especially dangerous for cats, who enjoy crawling into small spaces. Keep the door to the washing machine and dryer closed at all times. Before doing your laundry, check the machine to make sure your cat has not climbed in.

 

Screens, Doors, and Windows

A cat or dog can easily knock a loose screen off a window. Whether an animal falls out of a dangerously high upper-story window, jumps out of the ground-floor window, or runs out the door, the result could be devastating. So be sure all your screens and windows are secured, and remind others to keep doors and screen doors securely closed to prevent your companion animal from escaping.

 

Fireworks and Other Loud Noises

Many dogs become extremely fearful and distressed when they hear loud noises such as fireworks and thunder. Common reactions include hiding, shaking, and occasionally destructive behaviors like chewing through screen doors to escape. If they run away, they can become disoriented and unable to find their way home.

 

To lessen your dog's anxiety during a storm or fireworks:

  • Give your dog a safe, calming herbal remedy such as Rescue Remedy.

  • Play the radio or TV at high volume or turn on an air conditioner to mask the noise.

  • Provide your dog with a small, safe space of his choosing, such as a closet (but with the door open), usually where the noise level is lower.

  • Lie down with your dog and comfort him by stroking or speaking to him in a reassuring tone.

 

Tethering

Keeping a dog on a chain or rope for longer than a very brief period of time is mentally and physically dangerous for the dog. Dogs can become entangled or even hang themselves. It is also dangerous for others. Tethered dogs are far more likely to bite people than are other dogs.

 

Tethering is considered so inhumane that in August 2005, the City of Los Angeles, California, banned it. The California law has a provision that you can tether your dog if you are completing a temporary task, such as repairing your fence, but it also is very specific about how to tether your dog even temporarily. For example, the length of the rope or chain must be at least three times the length of the dog and it must be attached to a body harness, not a collar; it must be free from the possibility of entanglement; and the dog must have access to water, and, if necessary, to shelter.

 

Riding in the Back of a Pickup Truck

A dog who rides in the open bed of a pickup truck is in danger. If the driver hits a bump, swerves to avoid an obstacle, or brakes suddenly, the dog could be thrown from the truck. If the fall doesn't injure or kill the dog, it is possible that another car will. Simply tying the dog to the truck bed is not enough. Ropes or leashes could strangle the dog if he is jolted out of the truck. Because of this danger, some states in the U.S. are considering legislation to ban the transport of dogs in the back of open pickup trucks.

 


 

Periodically, a specific brand of a particular pet product is discovered to be dangerous. When this happens, announcements are made in the press. Be alert for such news items.

 

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