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Indoor Pet Dangers Can Bring Bad Surprises

Although winter weather and pet dangers usually evoke images of bitter cold or less visibility, serious pet dangers lurk inside where it’s warm and bright.


One of the most widespread dangers is also one of the most overlooked: household plants.

Chances are, you’ve heard of this pet threat and discounted it, perhaps because your pets have never been affected. That doesn’t mean the danger isn’t there, however.

Philodendrons are a popular indoor plan. They’re so easy to grow that it’s difficult to kill them. They also are toxic to cats and especially dogs, causing irritation to the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the stomach and intestines. If you’ve ever seen your pet nibble on grass or other greens, and you have philodendrons in the house, the results could be serious.

Winter and early spring also includes other plan dangers. During December, poinsettias are popular. For Easter, there are lilies. Both can be toxic to pets.

Some typical indications of plant poisoning include drooling, vomiting and other signs internal of distress. Your best bet is to contact your vet or the widespread poison information centers. A good one is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), which is available 24 hours a day by calling (888) 426-4435.

A related tip is to keep wheatgrass or another safe greenery on hand for pets that tend to chew on plants. This may help with several problems, including cats prone to throwing up indoors.

Easy To Miss

Some of the worst indoor threats for pets are under your sinks, in storage closets, garages and basements: household cleaners with often very toxic ingredients. Almost any kind of cleaner can be a possible poison, as can bleach, disinfectants and any kind of petroleum product. One special problem can be that these products for indoor use can be scented, making them more attractive to a curious pet. Again, these are potential dangers to dogs and cats but also birds and other popular pets.

A big solution is simple: keep them out of reach by placing them in well-latched cabinets. If you also have children, keeping them under lock and key (or a child-proof latch) is a good idea. The symptoms are generally similar to poisoning from plants, though often faster and even more serious. Unsteady walking is often one sign to look for, although vomiting, drooling and other plant-based reactions can occur as well. The advice to seek help from your vet or a poison hotline also applies here.

Another area where chemicals like this have big differences involves skin contact. Unless you’re keeping poison ivy or cactus (which have obvious issues) few houseplants are likely to cause problems simply by coming into contact with a pet brushing past. Chemicals, which are usually liquids prone to spillage, can cause burns and other injury simply by contact. That’s worth keeping in mind, especially when you should close a cap or lid.

It’s also a good idea to close off a room for some time after you’ve used a cleaner. Cats, especially can be affected by a floor clean simply by walking across a room then cleaning their feet.

Just as with babies and young children, you can never be too safe with pets in the house. Get in the habit of locking things away in cabinets and keeping counters clear. Even a hot cooking pot can be a big problem.