By Cassie Panning, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist at Pet Poison Helpline
After having discussed some of the more common toxins that can be hiding in your house let’s look at some of the items that you may have around that do not directly pose a risk for toxicity but can still be problematic for pets. Keep in mind that a new pet is like having a small child; they want to explore everything in their new environment. A pet not only explores by smelling new items but also by tasting or biting the item to find out what it is which can pose risks of injury.
Electrical Cords: These often look like toys to our new pets, especially puppies and kittens who are teething. Electrical shock can be concerning to your pet as it can cause burns to the mouth as well changes to the hearts natural rhythm. Just like with children cords should be kept out of reach of our new pets to avoid accidental exposure.
Batteries: Different types of batteries can pose different toxicity risks for pets especially when bit into or ingested. Button type batteries when ingested can get lodged in the soft tissue of your pet’s throat or stomach and create electrical current which can cause significant burns. These batteries can be found in a variety of items around your house that your new pet may explore and chew on. There are even some pet toys that contain these types of batteries.
The other batteries can also pose a risk of burns to your pet when bit into or ingested based on the type of material that is present. Most types of batteries are going to cause burns to the mouth, throat and down into the stomach when they are punctured. Another concern with batteries is that they can pose a risk for a foreign body obstruction if they are swallowed whole. Batteries should only be removed at a veterinary clinic and having the dog vomit at home is not recommended.
Bones: Many real bones are to hard for puppy teeth and can risk injury to their deciduous or baby teeth. If the baby tooth develops an infection and is not properly treated it can also cause permanent damage to the adult tooth. It is best to find a chew toy that is appropriate for your pet’s age and size. Along with risk to damaging the teeth bones can also be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract and can pose a risk of tearing through the intestines or stomach if swallowed whole which can cause an infection.
String: Cats especially kittens love to play with toys including items that are dangling from sting. When they get into string on their own they are at risk of swallowing it. While the string itself may not be large enough to create an obstruction it can get tangled under the tongue and get stuck as it is moving through the digestive system, creating a type of foreign body. If you see a string stuck under your pets tongue, do not pull on it; instead bring your pet to a veterinary clinic right away for evaluation.
Misc. Foreign Bodies: As your pet is exploring its new environment there are many thing that they will want to further investigate. Some pets like to explore by tasting the object and may unintentionally ingest the object. Remember to keep small object out of the reach of your pets since you never know that they will swallow. Dogs and cats a like have been known to ingest items such as coins, hair ties, children’s toys and rocks.
Your new pet may also take a liking to your scent as their new owner and decide that chewing on articles of your clothing is a good idea as well. Dogs tend to ingest clothing items such as socks and underwear that their owners have worn.
Remember that it is never recommended to induce vomiting or start any home treatments for your pet with out consulting a veterinary professional. When you get a new pet you will want to ensure that you have the phone numbers handy for your local veterinarian, closest emergency clinic, and the number for Pet Poison Helpline in case you need them in an emergency.