Kitchen Safety for Pets
Common household items, products and events have the potential to be dangerous or even lethal to pets. Using precautionary measures with regard to safety in the kitchen and the home are essential to providing proper pet care. The majority of animal species tend to be curious, leading to hidden dangers. Prevent accidents and poisonings by practicing safety strategies in relation to food, kitchen activities, garbage, food and water dish cleanliness, chemicals and medications, electrical objects and first aid. Teaching pets useful commands, such as “go to your place” while cleaning, cooking or engaging in activities that may lead to distractions or injuries is a useful tool in preventing accidents.
Kitchen and Home Safety
General preventative measures for keeping pets safe in the kitchen and around the house, include installing child-proof latches on cabinets and ensuring items, such as batteries, cellophane, string, glow-in-the-dark jewelry and extension cords are kept inside. Place screens in front of fireplaces to avoid burns and fires, and block floor vents to keep them from getting their paws or tails caught. Ensure pets don’t have easy access to basements, garages or sheds, where they may be in danger of falling items or toxic chemicals. When cooking in the kitchen, use back burners, when possible; and don’t leave food, knives, cooking or eating utensils unattended on counters. Make certain kitchen sponges are replaced frequently and kept out of reach, as they contain harmful cleaning chemicals, germs and bacteria. Keep pets out of the kitchen and place them outside or in another room while cleaning the oven. Cleaning fumes, particularly with self-cleaning ovens, are particularly harmful to pets.
Curious noses generally find odorous garbage appealing, therefore, make sure garbage is kept out of reach and inside a trash can with a lid. Certain types of garbage, such as medications and caffeine-based food products are particularly dangerous to pets. The caffeine in coffee grounds and tea affects their hearts and nervous systems, leading to vomiting, heart palpitations and possibly death. Wrap food debris in plastic and throw items away by ensuring they are immediately disposed of by securing them in tied, plastic bags. Place the bags in garbage cans and immediately secure the lid over the top. Large animals, such as dogs of considerable size will pose more of a concern with regard to garbage safety. Therefore, keeping garbage inside locked, child-proof cabinets is a wise choice in order to ensure they don’t push open cabinets or turn over garbage lids with their noses.
Ensure pets are provided healthy foods designated only for them and avoid feeding “people foods” and table scraps. Keep kitchen foods out of reach of pets and inform family members of items that are of particular danger to them. Pets should not be given fatty foods, such as bacon or steak, as they can upset their gastrointestinal tracts, cause digestive disorders and pancreatic inflammation and lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting or death. Although dogs are omnivores, meaning they eat meat and plant materials, avoid giving them meat with bones, as they can easily splinter and puncture their mouths, throats, stomachs or intestinal tracts, requiring surgery. Bread dough is harmful to pets because it expands in their stomachs; therefore, avoid giving them bread-based products. Most pets are lactose intolerant, so don’t give them milk, as it may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Never feed pets chocolate, as it contains the compound theobromine, which is toxic and causes diarrhea, vomiting, irregular heartbeats, seizures, tremors and death. Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin that is highly dangerous to dogs, and can result in kidney failure and death. Other foods toxic to household pets include avocadoes, candy, caffeine, onions, mushrooms and nuts, particularly Macadamias.
Food and Water Dish Cleanliness
Plastic food bowls and water dishes have the potential to harbor harmful bacteria and germs. Use ceramic, porcelain or stainless steel bowls, instead. Choose bowls and dishes that don’t have paint within their inner linings and if paint begins peeling, throw them away immediately. When using canned pet foods, reseal their tops and place them in the refrigerator after use. Throw them away if they haven’t been used within 5 to 6 days. To ensure pets don’t drink from toilets, keep a constant supply of fresh water in the bowls.
Chemicals and Poisonous Plants
Pets are characteristically curious, especially with items that have an unfamiliar scent. Therefore, dangerous cleaning agents, chemicals and medications are likely to spark their inquisitive natures. Make certain items which are especially toxic to pets, such as cleaning detergents, bleach, antifreeze, pine-oil, liquid potpourri, and polyurethane glue are kept behind locked cabinets. Read all product labels to ensure there are no hidden dangers in products left out in the open. The most common poison ingested by dogs is rat poison, which can cause internal bleeding and death. Keep household medications in child-proof containers and locked in bathroom cabinets where pets can’t reach them. Although some human medications are prescribed for pets, the majority of them are lethal, even in small quantities. Some house plants are poisonous to pets, which include castor beans, daffodils, dieffenbachias, elephant ear, hyacinths, narcissuses, oleanders, rosary peas and lily plants. Lily plants are especially poisonous to cats, as a small nibble of the petal, stem or leaf can result in irreversible kidney failure despite medical treatment.
Pets that have an elevated need to chew, such as dogs, are at a higher risk of danger from exposed wiring, lighting, outlets and extension cords. Pets generally think dangling electrical cords and wires look like toys, so ensure they are secured and out of reach. Other electrical safety measures for pets include, putting children’s toys and games away; taping or covering cords and outlets with metal-braided sleeves and child-proof covers; and unplugging lights and appliances when leaving the home. Make electrical cords undesirable to chew by coating them with bitter apple pet sprays or hair spray.
Assemble an emergency preparedness kit for pets, which should include a general veterinary first aid kit; hydrogen peroxide, pet Rescue Remedy or Animal Emergency Trauma Solution, pet food and bottled water; a leash and muzzle; a list of pets on the property, as well as their favorite hiding places; and names and phone numbers of emergency contacts. The emergency preparedness kit should be placed inside a sturdy backpack, duffle bag or large, plastic container with handles. If pets ingest a significant amount of chocolate, one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide can be administered orally until they vomit. Alternatively, Rescue Remedy or Animal Emergency Trauma Solution can be poured into their water according to the product’s instructions in order to flush the system. If animals exhibit signs of repeated diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, excessive panting or seizures, seek emergency medical veterinary care immediately.
For more information on pet safety in the kitchen and the home, consult the following links.
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