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What Items in Your House or Yard Can Harm Your Pet?

With the coming of spring and summer also come many hazards that can potentially harm your pet. Some of these come along with fun warm-weather activities like camping or trips to the lake or park, but some are laying around right this minute in your own home. Read along and discover some common pet hazards that might present an avoidable threat to your pet's health.

As always, feel free to ask your family veterinarian if you have questions, or post a question in the comments and we'll work to answer it. Good luck and stay safe this spring and summer!

  1. Gum The sugar substitutes found in gum are usually quite safe for people but not so much for dogs. One of them, xylitol, causes dangerously low blood-sugar, and can also cause liver damage. I have treated quite a few cases of xylitol toxicity where dogs emptied purses and chewed up a pack of gum. Next stop - the vet ER! It's very treatable and most do well, but if your dog chews up any sugar-free gum, call your vet right away. As little as one piece can contain enough xylitol to put your dog in the hospital.
  2. Grapes I've always thought raisins were gross - turns out that not only are raisins and grapes grody, they're dangerous to your dog as well. Dogs have eaten as little as 1 or 2 grapes and gone into kidney failure. They have an unknown toxin that is found in some, not in others, and damages the kidneys through a process that no one really understands. The bottom line is stop giving them to your dog as a treat and if your dog eats any, call your vet or veterinary ER for advice.
  3. Compost/fertilizer Dogs always love to roll in gross, smelly stuff, and there's nothing smellier or more attractive for them than compost. As it sits in the sun and degrades to that rich stuff that's so good on your tomatoes, some fungi are also in there producing some pretty powerful toxins. Symptoms include vomiting, tremors, seizures, and liver damage. Make sure your compost pile is not accessible to pets and that your dog can't get into it when you spread it on the garden.
  4. String and yarn Long, stringy things (known to vets as "linear" foreign bodies) are an especially dangerous form of foreign body than cause problems with pets (especially cats). Not only can they cause an intestinal blockage, they saw through the intestines and cause intestinal contents and gut bacteria to spill into the usually sterile world of the abdominal cavity.

If one end of the string gets hung up somewhere the rest of the intestines keep crawling along as if they were digesting food, inching along the string. The intestines end up looking like a curtain bunched up on a rod. As the intestines try to push food along, the string saws through the wall of the intestines, with widespread abdominal infection (or septic peritonitis) results.

Many or all of these home hazards are avoidable. Take a walk around your home and property today and see what dangers are lurking that you can remove and make for a safer home environment for your pet.

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