Safe for you, Deadly for them

By Vanessa Vandersande DVM

When was the last time you cleaned out your purse or backpack? You may have a vague idea of what lies within but do you know if everything inside is animal safe? Often, our pets love to root around for goodies, especially when the bag may have an enticing food smell or even the scent of their owner. Most people know to keep things like personal medications and chocolate away from their pets but problems arise when our animals find their way to items and treats that are not commonly thought of as dangerous.

A newer type of hazard includes electronic cigarettes which work with liquid nicotine. The taste is quite bitter and may be enough to stop a pet from taking a second sip, but unfortunately small dogs and cats can ingest a deadly dose in just several licks. Make sure your nicotine cartridges are safely sealed and kept out of reach.

Alcohols of all types cause issues as well and often smell much more appealing. Keep flasks tightly closed and mixed drinks out of reach. Many hand sanitizers can contain up to 75% alcohol and be easily assessable to pets when kept in just a squeeze-tube or flip-top bottle. Keeping these products locked inside an interior pocket or beauty case gives you an additional layer of safety.

Sugar-free gum is great, but often contains xylitol as the substitute and when ingested by dogs can cause a low blood sugar crash and eventual liver damage. A small dog may be affected by eating just one or two sticks of sugar-free gum. Keep in mind that xylitol can also be found in candy or mints. Common signs of xylitol ingestion include vomiting, weakness, tremors and even seizures. This additive can also be absorbed slowly, meaning that these symptoms may appear up to twelve hours post ingestion.

Ibuprofen, Aleve and Tylenol should all be kept away from your pets as they can cause serious damage ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to severe liver and kidney damage. Cats in particular are known to be particularly susceptible to Tylenol as they lack the enzyme needed to internally process acetaminophen.

If you’re a pet owner, take a quick peek through your bag and make sure any potentially dangerous items are removed or secured before leaving. And as always, if you suspect that your pet has eaten anything dangerous, call your veterinarian a.s.a.p!