Summer has officially arrived. The dog days, the heat, the sun, the pool, the fun, and of course, the living is free and easy. Well, for millions of dogs summertime is anything but free and easy. In fact, there are dangers lurking that you might not even realize are dangerous.
Here are 10 summer household items that can easily harm or kill dogs and why. Take note and let your dog-loving friends know:
(10) Snack bags: Empty (or not) potato chip bags are very tempting to a dog. He or she smells something yummy, sticks the snout it, and therein lies the danger. Although the bags may seem harmless, once the dog sticks the snout it, the “Mylar-like material creates a vacuum-like seal,” according to the Prevent Pet Suffocation website. Since the dog is unable to remove the bag from his head, he starts panicking, and will panic and run around until he collapses and dies from asphyxiation. All of this happens in minutes.
Solution: Keep bags out away from small dogs who jump and bigger dogs with prying paws. Ensure garbage cans are sealed and out of reach of pets.
(9) Paper shredder: You know that paper shredder set in the corner of your office? Under a desk? Neatly tucked away but within paw’s reach? Move it, turn it off, unplug it. One Fidose fan reports her dog licked the paper shredder, and since it was set on automatic, her tongue was pulled inward toward the deeper blades. Fortunately, the dog mom was home and the dog was rushed to the vet where the shredder was successfully removed from his tongue. The quick thinking dog mom immediately disconnected the head of the shredder and carried it with the dog’s tongue still stuck inside. Vets anesthetized the dog, reversed the shredder and ended up suturing the damage with over 100 stitches. Though the dog made a full recovery, she was left with a nick in her tongue. Vets told the upset dog mom that the accident happens often. Dogs and cats innately like to lick things, so a shredder is an accident waiting to happen.
Solution: Never leave a shredder plugged in and even better, move it out of the reach of pets. Cat tails can be pulled in as well. Other household objects to be wary of prying dog tongues include snail bait, yarn, string, electrical cords, and even household plants. Vets who treated the dog above report life-threatening blockages after a dog eats a piece of clothing left lying around.
(8) Dog toys: Not all of them, but some of them can be lethal. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dog toys. The Consumer Product Safety Commission only regulates pet toys if consumers are at risk. Dogs are left to fend for themselves. That whole hierarchy thing sucks for dogs according to the FDA and CPSC standards. Beware of phthalates. What sounds like something Bugs Bunny might utter to Elmer Fudd is no laughing matter. Phthalates give a product a “vinyl” smell. According to an article published by Whole Dog Journal, if a vinyl product smell lasts with time, the amount of phthalates it contains is really high. Many dog toys used phthalates in their manufacture. Read more about dangers of dog toys here.
Solution: Don’t give your dog vinyl chew toys.
(7) Certain cleaning products: According to my colleague, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, “check your cleaning products’ labels and avoid the following ingredients:
- Phenols (which are typically found in cleaners with the word “sol” in the name)
- Formaldehyde (found in general household cleaners)
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Perchloroethylene (found in rug and carpet shampoos)
Solution: We’d be here until next spring if we tried to list every single ingredient that might be harmful to dogs, but this is where being diligent comes into play.
(6) Mothballs: The toxic vapors of mothballs can cause harm to both people and pets. Naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene are two chemicals that are infused into a mothball, both of which release toxic vapors that can harm living beings. Mothballs should be kept in airtight containers and not where pets can easily access them. We’ve taken to cedar shavings in my household, with great moth-repellant success.
Solution: Keep them away from dogs and out of reach.
(5) Shampoos: Not all shampoos for pets are created equal, and moreover, many of them could actually harm your dog.
There are many eco-friendly shampoos on the market these days, but not all are created equal. Biodegradable shampoos indicate that your soap residue is not going to harm the water supply or Rover’s fresh coat. Dog shampoos that are pH balanced are more in tune with the natural balance of acid in a dog’s skin.
Consult with your dog’s veterinarian before making any changes or additions to what you put on his skin. A hypoallergenic combination of ingredients is mild and designed for dogs who show reactions to other types of shampoos.
Here’s a tip: Flip it around. I ignore the front of boxes, cans, bottles, and sprays. Instead, I flip the product around and read the ingredients first. The fluffy white dog on the bottle of shampoo does not necessarily mean my dog needs to lather in this stuff. You should know what is going on the coat and potentially into a dog’s bloodstream.
Synthetic ingredients can irritate and aggravate the skin of dogs with allergies, so avoid anything less than organic. Residue left behind on the skin can also cause itching, even with the safest shampoo.
Keep human shampoos away from dogs, as these contain chemicals that are too harsh for a pooch’s delicate skin. Human shampoos tend to irritate and dry out a dog’s skin.
Like people, dogs have skin types: Normal, dry, and oily. Skin flaking may indicate dry skin, while oily skin will leave a residue-type “sensation” when you run your fingers through a dog’s coat. If neither of these issues is present, then skin is considered normal. A veterinarian can assist in determining skin type.
(4) Dog treats: Salmonella recalls and warnings in dog treats (and food) scare the tar out of me, how about you? So what’s a diligent dog mom or dog dad to do about salmonella poisoning and its risks in your life (and that of your dog)?
Solutions and How to protect yourself and your pet:
o For commercial pet food, be sure it’s from a well-respected, reputable manufacturer
o Ask about the quality and safety in manufacturing practices
o Ask if foods are routinely tested for Salmonella
o Ask if manufacturing processes ensure that all of its pet food products are safe for feeding
o Ask if meat ingredients such as poultry are sourced from USDA facilities
o What is the company’s protocol for testing their products? Does their website talk about quality and safety?
Cook Cook Cook
o Cook meats thoroughly!
o Your pet’s food should be cooked thoroughly
Wash Wash Wash
o Always wash hands with hot, soapy water, after handling raw meat.
o Always was dishes, utensils, countertops, etc. that come into contact with raw meat with hot, soapy water.
The Bottom Line
- Salmonellosis is a bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella.
- Salmonella contamination can be a danger to both pets and people.
- Salmonellosis can be transmitted from animals to humans.
- Symptoms of Salmonella include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
- Salmonellosis is more common in the summer than winter.
Keep your pets safe, know the facts, and always report any new symptoms or changes in health to your dog’s veterinarian.
(3) Insect repellant: Many human bug repellants contain DEET, a toxin that can be harmful to dogs, so anything containing DEET should not be used on dogs.
Solution: Fleas are one problem, of course, but so are black flies, mosquitos, and other insects and pests that are a nuisance to dogs. I’ve opted for more natural alternatives, but even the word “natural” does not always mean safe, so proceed with caution and be an informed pet parent when using any substance, liquid, towelette, or powder on dogs. With flea and tick season right around the corner, proceed with caution. Here are 8 flea and tick hacks.
(2) Gum and Mints/Candy: A Cocker Spaniel mom friend of mine recently had an issue with her dog and a near fatal Xylitol scare. While she was out, her dog, Boomer, got into her unopened grocery bags and ingested a 40 pieces of Ice Breakers Ice Cube gum. Boomer had vomited and began drinking massive amounts of water. He kept begging his dog mom for water and kicking his bowls around. Something made the worried Angela Kussman Google “My dog ate Ice Breakers gum.” What she read shook her to the core and caused her to rush Boomer to the emergency vet.
Xylitol is one of the ingredients in Ice Breakers (and other sugar-free) products. The vet explained to Kussman that even a small amount can be lethal, and having ingested 40 pieces, the prognosis was very serious. With intensive treatment and monitoring, Boomer recovered, and Kussman is more informed as pet parent.
Solution: Read labels carefully. Anything sugar-free should be avoided. Check if Xylitol is contained in any products you purchase. Keep them from your dog’s path. Companies are not warning pet parents, for the most part, that Xylitol can be fatal to dogs. If you must purchase items containing Xylitol, hide them far from a dog’s reach. In our household, we rarely, if ever, purchase Xylitol-containing items.
(1) Alcohol: Not just the liquor store variety, but alcohol from mouthwash and other alcohol-containing liquids can shut down a dog’s body systems if too much is ingested. Perfumes and common cooking extracts like vanilla may contain as much as 35 percent alcohol by volume, so keep anything containing alcohol away from a dog’s reach, jump or nose. Effects of alcohol on a dog can be fatal, as a dog’s stomach can absorb alcohol completely within 20 to 30 minutes.
Solution: Keep alcohol-containing product out of a dog’s way and keep open bottles of beer and alcohol in general away from a dog’s lapping tongue to prevent emergencies and eventual death.
Did any of these surprise you? Have a safe and happy summer!