Pet Safety Guidelines: Avoid Pet Emergencies
As animal lovers ourselves, we hope your pet can lead a life filled with health, happiness, and no veterinary emergency room visits! Listed below are some guidelines, safety tips, and common dangers to avoid that may help you and your pet bypass our emergency services altogether:
- Everyday pet dangers – Avoiding common household hazards
- Hot and cold weather pet care tips – Preventing heat exhaustion, dehydration, and hypothermia
- Deadly holiday traditions – Bringing awareness about harmful holiday décor and foods that can pose life-threatening dangers to your pets
- Nature walk safety advice – Think about your surroundings and what potential dangers could be lurking before leaving the house with your pet
Everyday Pet Dangers: Common Household Toxins
The following items can seriously harm your pet and some are potentially deadly. We recommend storing them in places that are out of reach from your dog or cat. This is not a complete list.
- Ethylene glycol (anti-freeze)
- Prescription and non-prescription human medications
- Rodenticides (mouse, rat, gopher bait)
- Household cleaners and hygienic products
- People food
- Grapes and raisins
- Onions and onion powder
- Garlic and garlic powder
- Chewing gum and sugar-free foods containing xylitol
- Macadamia nuts
- Yeast dough or spent brewer's grains from homebrewing
- Moldy food
- Vitamins and dietary supplements
- Certain plants (e.g. lilies)
- Lawn and garden products
- De-icing products and salts used to melt snow and ice
Other Common Household Pet Hazards
- String, yarn, dental floss, and rubber bands
- Toys with removable parts or stuffing
- Meat bones
Learn more about pet toxicities from the ASPCA.
Hot & Cold Weather Pet Care Tips
Hot Weather Pet Care Tips
- Never leave your pet in the car. The temperature in the car can reach 120°F within minutes, even with the windows open in the shade.
- Your pet needs access to a lot of fresh, cool drinking water on hot days so check water bowls several times a day to ensure they are full. If you go for a walk or travel anywhere, be sure to bring plenty of water for both of you.
- It’s important to keep your pet out of the sun for extended periods, especially on hot days.
- When you do go outside, rub a bit of pet-safe sunblock on unprotected areas like the tips of the ears, the skin around the lips, and the tip of the nose. Use only products approved for use on pets. Products for humans can cause serious health problems for pets.
- Don’t overdo it in the heat. Walk your pet in the early morning or evening hours and keep walks to a gentle pace. If your pet is panting a lot or seems exhausted, it’s definitely time to stop.
- Even if covered in the shade, animals can get sick quickly on hot days. Keep them inside as much as possible. When they are outside, always provide pets with a cool, shady space and plenty of fresh, cool drinking water. Don’t leave pets unattended outside for extended periods of time.
- Senior pets and certain dog breeds (those with a short muzzle such as bulldogs and pugs) are especially at risk of heat stroke.
Heatstroke can be fatal! If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, call a veterinarian immediately.
In the meantime, lower the animal’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body. Often the pet will respond after only a few minutes of cooling only to falter again with his or her temperature soaring back up or falling to well below what is normal.
Signs of heatstroke are:
- Anxious expression
- Refusal to obey commands
- Warm, dry skin
- High fever
- Rapid heartbeat
Cold Weather Pet Care Tips
Hypothermia and dehydration are the two most probable life-threatening conditions for animals in cold weather.
- Keep your pet indoors with plenty of food and water.
- Provide shelter along with blankets or thick towels will give your animal something to snuggle in against the cold.
- Pets drink less in cold weather, so it’s important to make sure your pet is getting hydrated and that your pet’s water supply does not freeze.
- Young pets, senior pets, and those with health issues need special attention during the cold. Be certain to use coats, boots, and other items to keep them warm when you go outside on cold winter days.
- Beware that some chemicals used to melt snow are hazardous to your pets! Keep a close eye on them when they’re outside. Be sure to clean off their feet when they come back inside to avoid licking their feet and potentially ingesting toxic residue, or better yet, get them accustomed to wearing boots.
Holiday Pet Dangers
The holidays are a time of celebration, but as a pet owner, you should take extra precautions to protect your pet’s health and safety.
- Decorations, including tinsel, often entice curious pets. Unfortunately, such items can lead to serious or even deadly outcomes if ingested by your pet. Be sure to keep decorations out of reach. It is best to avoid tinsel altogether if you have pets in your house.
- Mistletoe, evergreens, and other plants popular during the holiday season can be deadly to pets. Ingesting needles and even drinking water from the Christmas tree base is enough to cause diarrhea, vomiting, mouth sores, and loss of appetite. We highly recommend fake trees for households with pets. Be certain to keep all other plants and flowers out of the reach.
- Electrical cords are in abundance this time of year. Be sure to keep pets, especially puppies and kittens, from chewing on cords. Limit the length of cords, pets’ access to them, and inspect the cords frequently for any signs of fraying.
- Chocolate is poisonous to cats and dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more serious the problem. Baking chocolate and cocoa can be deadly. Be sure to keep chocolate and other candy away from your pets. If your pet ingests any sweets, including cakes, candy, and gum, please contact your veterinarian or us immediately. This is a medical emergency and prompt attention is required.
Thanksgiving Pet Dangers
Thanksgiving weekend can be a very busy time for veterinarians. Often, animals get sick because of distracted or careless pet owners; most of the problems are gastrointestinal and can be prevented.
Keep the following Thanksgiving Day traditions out of reach from your pet:
- Turkey bones—They are hollow and splinter easily into sharp pieces. The splinters can lodge in your pet’s throat or intestine, causing punctures to the intestinal tract and blockages.
- Turkey carcasses—Parts may be undercooked and infected with Salmonella
- Fatty meats and gravy
- Baked goods
- Garbage containing leftovers
Halloween Pet Dangers
Halloween is fun, but can be scary and dangerous for your pet. Here are some suggestions to ensure a safe and happy Halloween:
- Keep all candy out of reach (not just chocolate)! A lot of people know chocolate is dangerous to dogs, but so are other candies. Sugar can cause nasty gastrointestinal upset. Lollipop sticks, plastic parts, and wrappers can all cause intestinal obstruction and potentially rupture the intestines (which is a life-threatening emergency).
- Keep decorative light strands away from curious puppies and kitties. One chewing session can be dangerous and possibly deadly.
- Keep your pets indoors and keep them away from trick-or-treaters. Even docile cats and dogs can become agitated by the constant ringing of the doorbell and strangers in scary costumes and bolt out the door or bite a visitor.
- Never let your cat outdoors, especially on Halloween.
- Don’t take your dog trick-or-treating. Even typically calm dogs may get spooked by excited, shrill voices and strange costumes.
- Make sure your dog has current, accurate, and readable identification tags. If you have recently changed your address or phone number, update the ID immediately. Also, have your pet microchipped. Your veterinarian can help you with this easy, painless procedure.
- An animal in a costume should NEVER be left alone and unsupervised. Some may chew the costume and ingest it. This could cause serious intestinal obstruction.
Nature Walk Safety Advice
We want you and your pet to be safe while enjoying the great outdoors. Here are a few tips and suggestions to ensure a happy time with your pet:
- To maintain control of your pet in public, keep your dog on a leash at all times. Always keep a close eye on your pet and keep them within view.
- Do not allow your pets to walk on ice-covered ponds and lakes. Cats and dogs may wander onto ice too thin to support their weight.
- Sniffing is an acceptable activity, but don’t allow your pet to eat or drink anything in a public area (except for the public drinking fountain).
- Make certain your pet has proper identification in the form of ID tags or microchips.
- Apply a flea and tick repellant
- Map out your journey. Know your surroundings, including steep slopes, hot sand or asphalt, and sharp rocks.
- Provide plenty fresh, cool drinking water. It’s best to bring drinking water from home. A change in drinking water can result in stomach upset for a pet. Do not let your pet drink ocean (salt) water.
- Keep an eye on your pet at all times. Is he or she showing signs of heat exhaustion? The signs are excessive panting, difficulty breathing, lack of urination, brick red gums, staggering, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you are not near help, immerse your pet in cool water and rest in a shady area.