When we bring a pet into our homes we make an unspoken promise to keep that pet safe, to protect them, and to keep them healthy. All good pet parents know this and abide by it, but sometimes there are unseen hazards that can be a threat to our beloved pets. Even the most diligent pet parent can be caught by surprise by a curious puppy who gnaws open a bottle of window cleaner, or a kitty who takes a drink out of the bowl of bleach you were using to clean the tub. The important thing for pet safety is to be aware of the dangers and to make your home a safe environment for the pet you love.
Fish and Small Rodents
Animals of all types are susceptible to cleaning products. These products contain chemicals and can be highly toxic, even life-threatening. Often times we want to give our little critters a clean cage, so we carefully empty it, scrub it, rinse it, and then return our fish, hamster, or whoever else to their home. However sometimes the smallest creatures can be the most severely affected by things like soap or disinfectants. If cleaning a fish tank, the slightest trace of soap can kill off any type of fish. Small rodents have a tendency to chew and can ingest trace amounts of cleaners that you thought you had rinsed away. The best bet is to avoid using any type of cleaning product on cages and tanks, if possible. But if it is necessary to use soap or other disinfectants, rinse and rinse, and then rinse some more. And when you think you've rinsed it enough, rinse it one more time.
Risk to Larger Animals
Larger animals can be harmed by these chemicals as well. Never underestimate your dog or cat; just because they haven't gotten into any chemicals before doesn't mean they never will. The best thing you can do to keep them out of harm's way is to keep cleaning products far out of reach of your dog or cat. Never leave a bottle sitting around, or leave a closet or cabinet door opened where these things are stored. If you're cleaning with chemicals on the floor, another low surface, or in a bowl, it's best to keep your pet out of that room until you are finished and all the chemicals have been wiped up. Don't trust your pet not to lick the chemicals, because they often will out of curiosity. Many pet owners have had unfortunate mishaps of their puppy lapping up motor oil in the garage or chewing open a plastic bottle of cleaner. Animals are inherently curious, and they will check out anything that's within reach.
Safe Cleaning Practices
When spraying chemicals, it's extremely important to pick up any pet products first. Pick up your pet's water and food dish and set them aside, far from where the chemicals are being used, in case some of the chemical splashes or spills. Don't forget to pick up toys also.
There is an alternative to dangerous chemicals. Luckily, with the "green" movement that is so popular today, there are many household cleaners on the market that are eco-friendly and lack harsh, dangerous chemicals. These cleaners still do the job you need them to do, but they are non-toxic to children and pets. It's still not a good idea to allow your pet any kind of access to them, but at least if an unfortunate incident occurs, it won't pose such a threat to their health. And an additional up-side, of course, is that these products are also safe for the environment.
What to Do if Your Pet Does Get into Toxic Cleaning Chemicals
In the event that your pet does gain access to a cleaning product, first call animal poison control. If possible, have the bottle or cleaning product label in hand. Then, it's important for your pet to see a vet immediately, especially if they are vomiting, not eating, or otherwise acting strangely. Often times a quick-acting owner who gets their pet to a vet quickly can make all the difference and prevent a serious crisis.
We love our pets, and we want to keep them safe. We put fences up to keep them out of the road, get them vaccinated to fend off diseases, and feed them a healthy diet to maintain their weight. But it's also important to remember that there are hazards in our own homes that cannot be overlooked.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.