Three Household Hazards for Pets

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Our furry four-legged family members need us to keep them safe from harm.  There are three common household items that pose a significant hazard to your pet’s safety and health. Though they are so common you may not realize the danger they pose to your dog or cat.

Ways to protect your pets from household harm.

Electrical Cords

In modern households there is an abundance of devices with electrical cords.  Their soft, chewy texture is tempting to pets, especially puppies and kittens.  If your pet chews through the soft outer-coating and his or her teeth hit one of the inner wires it can be deadly.

The resulting electrical shock is terribly painful and will cause severe burns to your pet’s tongue and mouth.  A particularly powerful shock can also damage your pet’s lungs making it difficult for them to breath. If this happens call your vet right away to know what to do next.

Whenever possible keep electrical cords inaccessible to your pets. Don’t leave puppies, kittens or dogs that are chewers alone in rooms where they can get at them.  Unplug what you can and wrap a protective, chew-proof coating around exposed electrical cords.

Paper Shredders

That innocuous paper shredder next to your desk can be a deadly device to your pet. Your dog or cat may try to lick the blades ending up with severely injured tongue and mouth. Oftentimes the injuries from a paper shredder are so severe the pet must be euthanized since it will be unable to eat or pant normally ever again.

To avoid the horror of such a thing:

  • Keep the paper shredder up on a shelf or in a cabinet when not in use (or get a desktop model)
  • If you have to keep it out where your pet could get to it, buy one with a cover over the blades, don’t leave it on an automatic setting, and unplug it when not in use.
  • Don’t shred food wrappers in it as this will draw your pet to it and tempt him or her to lick the blades
  • Put your pet in another room or outside temporarily when using the paper shredder, be sure to unplug it when you are done, and cover the blades before you let your pet back in the room

Related:  Ten Tips for Safe Car Travel with Your Pets


While this may not be in the house, it is still a common household product that may be in your garage.  Antifreeze contains a sweet-smelling chemical called ethylene glycol, which prevents your car’s radiator from freezing and removes rust.  As little as a half of a teaspoon can be fatal to a small dog or cat and make a larger animal violently ill. It can take several hours for the deadly chemicals to make their way through your pet’s digestive tract and into their bloodstream. Prior to that they may act and appear just fine.

Within 24 hours of ingesting the anti-freeze it is metabolized in the liver and becomes a dangerous metabolite that pulls calcium from the blood and deposits it in the kidneys. This can mean severe damage or kidney failure.

Signs that your pet has ingested anti-freeze are:

  • Vomiting
  • Staggering and loss of balance
  • Refusing to eat
  • Convulsions
  • Falling into a coma

To avoid poisoning your pet, carefully inspect under your car for any antifreeze leaks.  Keep jugs of it on a high shelf or in cabinets that latch closed. The sweet smell will draw your pet to it and even licking up a small puddle on the floor can be fatal.

If your pet does ingest antifreeze rush them to the vet immediately. There is only a short window to save their life.

To ensure good pet health take some precautions with these common but potentially dangerous household items and avoid a disaster for your furry, four-legged family member.

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