Hidden Dangers for Pets at Home

Keep your pets safe year-round with these tips inspired by the experts at Petside.com and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

By Reader's Digest Editors
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1. Flowers and Plants

Easter Lilies.
While they may be pretty, lilies are one of the most poisonous plants for cats. Petside suggests keeping them out of the house (or better yet, purchase artificial flowers). Be aware of symptoms of lily poisoning which include vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite. Call your vet as soon as possible if you think your pet has ingested lily. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says that without immediate care, cats who eat lily may develop life-threatening kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours of ingestion. Poinsettias.
Holiday poinsettias are also dangerous for pets, though not as worrisome as the lily. This doesn’t mean your pet should eat this pretty red Christmas decoration, since doing so will likely lead to stomach pain and discomfort, including vomiting. The ASPCA’s compiled a searchable plant database of dangerous plants (listing over 400 items). Check it out if you are considering bringing a new plant home.

2. Dangerous Foods

Chocolate.
Chocolate is a harmful food for pets. Petside says most adults know this, but that it’s adults’ responsibility to make sure children know, too. Keep little ones from giving chocolate to pets and do your best to supervise.

All kinds of candy, including candy wrappers.

Too much sugar can give your pet a bellyache, but worse, if wrappers are swallowed, your pet risks tearing of the esophagus or intestines. Clean up as best and frequently as you can when candy is being unwrapped.

10 more harmful foods:

Chewing gum
Grapes
Raisins
Macadamia nuts
Avocados
Onions
Garlic
Salt
Raw yeast dough
Fatty foods

Source: "101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet," compiled by ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.

3. Holiday Hazards

Easter and Christmas Décor.
Plastic eggs, if ingested, can rip tears in the digestive system. Likewise, spoiled hard boiled eggs, if ingested, can make pets ill. Likewise, Easter grass and tinsel are attractive, but deadly. Pets who attempt to eat these garlands and garnishes can choke, or lethally damage their intestines. At Easter, try real grass or crumpled paper instead. At Christmas, cat-proof your tree by avoiding tinsel.
More holiday safety tips

Valentine’s Day: Keep their paws off the chocolates and far from the flowers.
4th of July: Be mindful of fireworks and related paraphernalia.
Halloween: Use flameless candles, and keep candy out of harm’s way.
New Year’s: Forego confetti and keep an eye on balloons. If they deflate, they become a choking hazard.
Thanksgiving:
Throw turkey bones in the trash.
Christmas:
Keep pets out of tree water, and be attentive when they show interest in ornaments, decoration hooks, ribbon and Styrofoam.

4. Treacherous Toys

Small, brightly colored toys hold the same appeal for pets as they do children. The problem is that they are choking hazards. Petside’s advice is to keep small toys in a place safely hidden from pets.

5. Dangerous Drinks

Coffee, tea and alcohol
Coffee and tea leaves are on the ASPCA’s list of People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet, as is alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, and breathing difficulty, among other things.

6. Hazardous Objects

Many small items can lead to choking – even things you would never expect your pet would attempt eating. Be mindful of buttons, small batteries, twist ties, and rubber bands. In the bathroom, keep hair pins, cotton swabs and dental floss out of reach from your pet.

7. In the Garage

If your pet is your shadow and frequently follows you around the house, remember that garage and storage areas need special attention, too. Keep cleaning supplies, antifreeze, fertilizer, de-icing materials and pesticides in a place pets can’t easily access.

Visit petside.com for more pet safety advice and check out the ASPCA site for tips on poison-proofing your home. Sources: petside.com, ASPCA.org, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

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