Household Dangers & Your Pet

Animal Welfare Cats Pet Care Pets Pet Health Animals Dogs Posted Dec 1, 2020
Do you know the everyday items in your home that could pose a risk to your pet?

The full article can be read in Issue 11 of RSPCA’s The Biscuit Magazine.

Most pet owners are aware of the danger of feeding animals chocolate, onions, or even grapes. However, there are some other harmful substances that silently threaten our pet’s health when ingested. Below we explore some of the most common risks that lie behind your picket fence.

From Danes to Toy Poodles, dogs love to eat, lick, and chew. Sometimes toys receive too much love, and the stuffing and squeakers are ripped from their seams, or food scraps are swiftly gobbled up before anyone notices. Although many pooches live in harmony with our household items, small toys, discarded foods, and even plants can pose a risk to your pet’s wellbeing.

Foreign Bodies

One of the greatest risks to pets is the ingestion of, and subsequently gut obstructions caused by foreign bodies. Foreign objects can become lodged in the intestine and are not able to be passed naturally by the animal and, in a short period of time, the animal will become very unwell and will experience significant pain in their gut. 

RSPCA Veterinarian Vicki Lomax, says that macadamia nuts and corn cobs have been the two most common foreign bodies in dogs that she has encountered in her career. Unfortunately, some dogs will swallow the cobs whole and the risk of gut obstruction is significant.

Macadamia nuts, however, are double trouble. Not only is the nut itself toxic to your pooch, they have the potential to get lodged in the gut, and if cracked, the hard, sharp shell is also dangerous. In many cases, the only solution will be to surgically remove the item which is both complicated and costly.

This was the case for poor Duke! After gorging on many nuts from a local tree, Duke was in a bad way, and unfortunately, his owners couldn’t afford veterinary care so he was surrendered to the RSPCA.

Ingestion of macadamia nuts by dogs has been associated with all sorts of unpleasant and harmful symptoms, including vomiting, ataxia or weakness, fever, muscle tremors and depression.

Our vets helped manage Duke's symptoms, putting him at ease and being there to hold his paw as he had to poop them all out. It was a tough lesson to learn for Duke, but thankfully he made a successful recovery and has now gone on to find his forever home.

Curiosity [almost] killed the cat

Our cheeky kitties can be particularly fascinated by anything string-like. Hair-ties, rubber bands, wool and thread are likely to become your cat’s next play-thing. Some cats won’t just play with these objects, but will chew and swallow parts. 

This is a real problem that often requires major surgery to resolve. Worse still, some of these cats become hyper interested and will target anything string-like; wherever and whenever possible.

Be sure to monitor your cat’s playtime to ensure they aren’t eating anything they shouldn’t and keep rubber bands and ties in draws, away from prying paws! There are some great cat toys you can grab online from RSPCA World for Pets, or even DIY!

Don’t you know that you’re toxic?

Most pet owners will admit, although coyly, to sneaking their pets some human food from time to time. While treating your pooch in moderation is okay, there are several foods that are incredibly harmful to pets when ingested. Mushrooms, nuts, and garlic can be fatally toxic to pets, while potatoes, green capsicum, and tomatoes can make them very ill. 

We usually don't think much about our plants being a danger to our pets – it’s natural, how could it hurt anyone, right? Wrong. Those green thumbs among us may be shocked to know that household plants such as mint, lilies, and azaleas (among many others) are highly poisonous to pets when ingested. See a larger list here.

Dr Sarah Kanther, says that she frequently treats toxicities in pets in her role as an Emergency Veterinarian. She says that chocolate toxicity is really common, as is the ingestion of human drugs, and other common toxicities including grapes, onions, garlic, and lilies. Sarah says that in most situations, the outcome is positive if the animal is treated early.

It is important to be aware of what could potentially harm your pet in your home and be proactive in removing hazards. If the worst should happen and your pet eats something that you know they shouldn't have, don't wait. Seek medical attention by your vet immediately to ensure the best possible outcome.

Download our helpful food chart so you know what you can and shouldn’t feed your pets.

Rohan Hughes
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