Poison Proof Your Home

March is Pet Poison Awareness Month.
So as you start your spring cleaning take time to check around your house, garage and yard for anything that might be poisonous; you might be surprised.

So What’s In Your Purse? How many times have you found Sparky nosing in your purse?  I know some of you may be saying, well, mine never does.  Well, what about when you’re visiting someone?  I had a habit of putting my purse on the floor with my briefcase at my clients’ homes. Until it was almost emptied by my client’s pup as we were walking through the house.

Be aware of, cigarettes, change, vitamins, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, sugarless chewing gums and mints with xylitol and of course chocolate. Along with these things being in your purse, take notice on where you have them at home.  Your pets can easily get to your night stands from the bed and Fluffy may like to jump up on your counter.

It’s Cleaning Time. There are very few people I know that look forward to cleaning the bathroom.  With the many products on the market to make things easier, many can be toxic. That pretty blue water most likely contains toxic substances and bleach.  Watch the spray foam cleaners.  You might do a quick spray and walk away to let it work for a few minutes. That’s all it takes for your pet to take a lick or two.

Fabric softener sheets make everything feel so nice, but the chemicals in them can cause kidney failure if ingested. We don’t all fold our wash right out of the dryer.  They may go into the laundry basket to fold later with that softener sheet for Fido to steal.  You may also want to skip using liquid fabric softener when washing their bedding as many of these products contain the same harmful chemicals.

Other items making cleaning easier are soap gel packs for your laundry and dishwashers.  The anionic mixtures in them can be toxic.  They’re small enough that they can easily be grabbed and ingested if dropped.

Let’s Go Out. We all know there are many toxic and life threatening poisonous plants.  I had a friend whose pup died from chewing on a Sago Palm. This year I re-landscaped my backyard so spent time researching plants.  None of my pups had touched anything in the past… but what about the next pet?  Well, our new Maya is a plant-eating, bush-trimming, flower-picking pup.  We could have been in some very serious situations with her with some of our old plants.  I knew about oleanders and poinsettias, but I didn’t realize how poisonous vincas, tulips, daisies and lilies are.  There are really too many to list, so please take a few moments to check out the list on the ASPCA website, it may just save your pet’s life.

Along with plants, watch out for pesticides, lawn and pool chemicals.  I’m sure you’re not leaving them out and around the yard, but be careful when you have the shed door open.  Pets are curious and often can’t resist smelling, tasting and sometimes swallowing foods, plants and other items that interest them.

So What Else Is In Your Home?  You might not even think about your remote controls or phones, but some dogs love to chew and batteries if ingested can cause serious chemical burns.

I know instant hand warmers are not a staple in Vegas homes.  But what about people who go skiing?  The metals within hand warmers contain amounts of iron that can be toxic if eaten. There also are the instant cold packs for our coolers.  The ammonium nitrate in them can be toxic and cause chemical burns.

An Ounce Of Prevention… Proper training of basic commands of leaving items alone can be lifesaving for your pet.  But they’re just like kids and sometimes push the boundaries, especially when we’re not looking or around.  Always keep in mind that not everyone’s pet is trained the same as yours.  Be careful and aware when visiting friends or when having a furry friend over for a visit.

Ninety percent of poisonings occur in the home, so if you think your pet has ingested something poisonous, stay calm and find out what to do before acting on your own. Making your pet vomit may be more dangerous than getting them to the veterinarian immediately for treatment. Its best to not take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach since time plays a significant factor in treatment and recovery. There are pet poison hot lines and websites to check. Each pet is affected differently just like us.  I may have a mild reaction to peanuts but someone else can die from ingesting just one. There are numerous after hour and 24 hour emergency clinics in town.  Find out which one is closest to you now, so in the unfortunate situation that you need to go immediately; you can just jump in the car and go.

Let’s make your madness in March about poison-proofing your home. ©

Gail Mayhugh, the owner of GMJ Interior Design has been designing in Las Vegas for over 25 years.  She also supports animal rescues and shelters through her non-profit, www.SeniorsToTheRescue.org. Enriching the lives of older adults and helping animals one project at a time.