What’s In Your Home That Could Harm Your Pet?

By Julia Williams

As responsible pet owners, we all want to do everything we can to keep our furry best friends safe so they can live a long and healthy life. Because our pets can’t discern whether something is good or bad for them, they rely on us to keep the dangerous stuff out of the house, or at least out of their reach. Because knowledge is power, today I want to share with you some of the most common causes of pet poisoning.

A pet insurance company in California analyzed data from approximately half a million insured pets to compile a list of toxic substances that pose a danger to them. Common pet poisons found in the home (in order based on the number of claims) include medicine, chocolate/caffeine, plants, cleaning supplies, pest control products, antifreeze, walnuts and alcohol. Depending on the substance ingested, pet poisoning can occur quickly and can be fatal.

Once you know what’s in your home that could harm your pet, you can take preventative safety measures. Even so, you should be prepared in case of an accidental poisoning. Keep the number for your regular veterinarian and the closest emergency vet hospital handy, as well as a pet poison hotline.  As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Many human medications can be quite dangerous for dogs and cats even in small doses. Pets have been known to sample pills they find on the floor, so be sure to keep all prescription drugs and over-the-counter pills like painkillers, cold and allergy meds, vitamins and supplements stored in your medicine cabinet. Poisoning can also occur with pet medicines and nutritional supplements if they are misapplied or stored where your pet can get to them and subsequently consume more than they should.

Chocolate and caffeine both contain a substance called methylxanthine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures. See “Chocolate Toxicity in Pets” for more information.

Houseplants: more than 700 common plants produce toxins that could be harmful to pets, and some can even be life threatening. Plants to avoid include Azalea, Cyclamen, Dieffenbachia, Dracaena, Kalanchoe, Lily, Philodendron and Pothos. To complicate matters, some houseplants are toxic to cats but not dogs, and vice versa. Learn which plants can poison your pet, and keep them out of the house. If your kitty likes to graze on greenery, you can grow some catnip or cat grass in a small container.

Many traditional cleaning products have harsh chemicals that can be toxic to pets. Because our pets walk on the floor with their “bare paws” and their noses are always close to the floor, fumes and chemical residues from these products can place a strain on their organs. Choosing natural cleaning products will help to limit the toxins your pet comes into contact with. Read “Go Green for Your Pet’s Health” for more information.

Pest control products should be used with extreme caution in homes with pets. Poisons used to kill mice and rats may contain anticoagulants which slow the clotting of blood and interfere with normal liver functions. Rodenticide can also cause bleeding disorders, neurological problems, gastrointestinal distress, kidney failure and death. Use a humane trap unless you’re 100% certain the bait is located in an area that’s totally inaccessible to pets and that the rodents can’t drag the bait where pets can get to it.

Mothballs are also highly toxic to dogs and cats, so choose a natural moth deterrent such as cedar chips instead. Flea and tick insecticides, even those designed for pets, can be toxic if used improperly, such as topically applying the wrong product or using something made for dogs on your cat. Be sure to read the label carefully, and choose natural flea control products over chemical pesticides whenever possible. 

Human food that's deadly for pets is a topic we’ve written about a lot on this blog, because many people mistakenly assume that what’s safe for them is safe for their dog or cat too. That’s not always the case, and foods that can be toxic to your pets should be stored where they can’t get to them. These include grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, nutmeg and walnuts, as well as gum, candy, cookies and mints that contain the sweetener xylitol.

The garage is perhaps the most important area of the home to pet proof. It’s where we typically store a host of products that can be toxic to pets, including antifreeze, brake fluid, paint, solvents, fertilizers and herbicides. Be sure these are kept on high shelves or in bins with secure lids. 

The time and effort it takes to ensure that all of the above substances can’t accidentally poison your pet is well worth it. Their safety and health depend on it!

Photo by sarawestermark

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The cutest thing you'll see today

The tawny frogmouth owl (Podargus strigoides) is found throughout Australia, including Tasmania. The nocturnal bird is known to have a soft, deep call that sounds like "ooom, ooom, ooom."


Wednesday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Wednesday Pet Roundup! What do I have for news for you today? Well...I think Kelly's stumped!

* Did you know that dogs help veterans with PTSD? Programs such as Paws for Purple Hearts even recognizes that the training process itself can have a positive effect on veterans. In Psychology Today, Tracy Stecker, phD, explains some reasons why dogs heal PTSD. Including:
Dogs are vigilant
Dogs are protective
Dogs help the veterans remember feelings of love.

* Does your dog get sore paws due to hot pavement? Solution: Protective booties. Summer heat can even give your dog a sunburn! Solution: make sure he wears a t-shirt when you go out for walks. More home remedies for dogs on HowStuffWorks.

* Today online reports on Otto the fat cat, who lost 6 lbs. I know what an accomplishment that is, that's the same amount that Kelly lost. So I'm not belittling the accomplish, but is it me, or does Otto still look just as big? At any rate, you go Otto, keep it up! Dieting isn't easy, but Kelly and I both know it's important.

* Riley the dog and a mud-tracking pig named Reese helped one Facebook fan win a contest sponsored by and a national cleaning company, COIT, promoting their new pet services program. The San Fransisco Chronicle reports that the company specializes in removing pet stains and odors.

Does Your Dog’s Name Fit Their Personality?

By Suzanne Alicie

Pet names are kind of funny sometimes. Most dogs get their names when they are puppies, and once they grow up the name may or may not fit their personality. The same is true for cats. I once named a kitten Chicken because she was scared of everything, but after she got used to the family there was no fear in her! So how do you choose a dog name that your puppy can grow into? It’s a guessing game really, and the idea is mainly to pick a name that he will understand, that you like and that rolls off your tongue easily! Julia Williams has offered up some great suggestions in “How to Pick the Perfect Name for Your New Pet.”

Do you have a really big dog that maneuvers about as well as a bull in a china shop? Was he the runt of the litter and you despaired of him every growing big and strong? If so, he may have a name like Tiny or Baby. You can’t change his name after he grows big so his name may be a bit of a misnomer, but it’ll make a great story when people ask!

Some dogs have such a strong personality when they are puppies that the name you give them based on their personality will fit even when they are grown. Bruiser may be the moniker tacked onto the biggest pup in the litter as he tramples the others to get to his CANIDAE dog food. That “leader of the pack” mentality tends to stick with a dog, and he’ll likely have a personality that matches his size.

Dog owners sometimes name their dogs based on physical appearance, but this can change a great deal as the dog ages. I recall a Pit Bull puppy we had years ago – at 8 weeks of age he hadn’t grown into his feet or his coat, and when he sat down it looked like his pants were wrinkling around his butt! Luckily I didn’t name him Saggy or Clumsy, because although he always ran a bit sideways, he grew into his feet and his coat, and there was nothing saggy about him. His name was Max, and he was loyal, loving and very fit.

Another dog that I met on the beach in North Carolina was a beautiful Samoyed. She was 3 years old and a gorgeous big ball of white fur. Her personality was amazing. She was spirited and fun, yet she was also a bit cautious. She seemed to respond to whatever the people around her were feeling. I was drawn to this dog because she looked so much like my dog Chaos that I’d lost just a few weeks before. I was happy to see her and I couldn’t stop myself from wandering over to the strangers on the beach to see if I could just pet her. She came up to me and let me pet her. I was overwhelmed with missing my dog and about to cry in front of people I’d just met, when she nudged me with her big head and almost knocked me over. I bent over and she licked my face. She just seemed to know. Yes, there is a point to this story; I couldn’t believe it when her owner told me what her name was…Karma! I fell in love with that dog, and I have to imagine that her owners named her after experiencing the intuitive nature of her personality.

Some dogs have names that fit their personality, and some dogs don’t. It doesn’t seem to matter to the people who love them, because at some time the name fit perfectly and they can’t imagine the dog being named anything else. Besides, more than likely the dog has a nickname that fits better. Our dog Bear has several names, the most common being Flop, because that’s what she does when she sits with one of us. Anyone who hears me talking to her would probably laugh because I call her flopadoodle several times a day. Luckily for me, she answers to just about anything I decide to call her.

Does your dog’s name fit their personality?

Photo by Richard Mansfield

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Birthday Party and prizes for you!

Coming up soon, August 20, is a special day for a very special dog. Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog is turning 12!

Frankie, star of "Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog" book series, is "the little dog with tires who teaches us to be positive and keep on rolling." And, in honor of her birthday, she's giving YOU prizes!

Prize One: $25.00 Dachshund Delights gift certificate, Frankie tote bag, Both Frankie storybooks, Frankie coloring and paper doll book, Frankie greeting card, and Frankie 2-pc magnet set.

Prize Two: $15.00 Dachshund Delights gift certificate, Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog book, Dogs and the Women Who Love Them book, 3" Frankie magnet, and Frankie greeting card.

Prize Three: $10.00 Dachshund Delights gift certificate, Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby's House book, Almost Perfect book, 3" Frankie magnet, and Frankie greeting card.

Check out Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog blog Frankie's Birthday Bash to find out how to enter!