Your House Is Clean, But Are Your Pets Safe?

In these troubled times, keeping your home clean and safe is more important than ever. But are you making your house safer or more dangerous for your animal companions?

Many cleaning products are safe for humans to use but will cause discomfort, injury, or even death to pets. Your animals may be curious about the smell or taste of these products, so be extra careful when using them. The following is a list of common household cleaners and the dangers they can pose to your animal companions.

Bleach:  Small exposures to regular strength household bleach, such as a pet walking through a puddle on the floor, may result in irritation to the skin and bleached/damaged fur. Thorough rinsing of the feet is important to remove any bleach trapped in the toe webs or between the foot pads. Bleach on the skin or fur often leads to ingestion because animals will self-groom and lick the bleach off. Ingestion can lead to vomiting and stomach irritation which, depending on the amount ingested, may need veterinary treatment. If bleach gets in the eye, this can be an emergency. Immediate flushing of the eye may be needed to slow damage to the cornea. Any animal whose eyes have been exposed to bleach should be examined by a veterinarian. He or she may apply a stain to the surface of the eye that binds to damaged cells and make them visible. If damage has occurred, treatment is likely needed. Concentrated or “ultra” bleaches can cause chemical burns, so extra caution needs to be taken when using those products. Never mix bleach with other chemicals. Mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia, for example, produces toxic chloramine gas which is corrosive to the lungs.

Isopropyl Alcohol:  Ingesting isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers) can poison animals, resulting in symptoms such as drunkenness, low blood sugar (especially in small and young pets), stomach upset, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, acid/base disturbances in the blood, and difficulty breathing. Isopropyl alcohol is twice as toxic as ethanol (the alcohol in beer and wine) to dogs.

Hydrogen Peroxide:  Often found in cleaning and disinfecting products, exposure to hydrogen peroxide can result in skin and eye irritation/damage, vomiting, damage to the stomach lining, and sometimes potentially deadly air bubbles in the blood. The common 3% household strength concentration is occasionally used to induce vomiting in dogs but is only safe at correct doses and only in specific cases. Do not give hydrogen peroxide to a dog without consulting your vet. Never use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cats as it can be deadly. Concentrations greater than 3% can be corrosive to all tissues.

Quaternary ammonium compounds:  Found in some disinfecting wipes and sprays, quaternary ammonium compounds can cause corrosive injury to any tissue they contact. Cats are especially sensitive to these compounds, even at very low concentrations.

Phenols:  Found in everything from toilet bowl cleaners to all-purpose cleaning sprays, these products can be corrosive if they contact the skin and eyes or if they are swallowed.  They can also cause corrosive injury to the lungs if inhaled.

Keep your pets out of the room when cleaning, especially if using an open mop bucket. Discard paper towels that are wet with cleaner or sanitizing wipes in covered trash cans. When cleaning the bathroom, keep the doors closed and windows open. In case of spills, quickly remove pets to a safe part of the house or secure the area to avoid accidental exposure.

Remember that pets are more sensitive to household cleaning products than most humans are. In case of exposure, contact your vet immediately or call the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!