September 24, 2020 TVAH

Keeping Your Pet Safe From Common Household Cleaners

If there’s one thing we can all agree on this year, it’s that disinfecting our home and office spaces has taken on renewed importance! Cleaners and hand sanitizers are flying off the shelves as we rededicate ourselves to sterilizing our environments.

This urgency, along with product shortages, might cause you to use something outside of your usual routine. It would be wise to double check and make sure that your favorite cleaning products are safe for your dog or cat.

Please note that harsh odors such as bleach and other cleaners can cause “Nose Blindness” in dogs. Nose Blindness is an event where a dog is no longer able to smell or process the scents around them. With their sense of smell being one of the main ways that they navigate their surroundings, this proves to be a damaging experience for dogs as they are no longer able to rely on one of their main senses. When a dog loses their sense of smell, it is as if they are losing their sense of sight. Without being able to detect or interpret scents, dogs can find themselves unable to function properly in their surroundings, causing them to become afraid and anxious. The best practice would be to always use cleaners when pets are not present.

Bleach. It’s inexpensive, readily available most of the time, and extremely effective against a variety of bacteria and viruses. But will bleach harm your pets?

If you properly dilute bleach in water, the solution is safe to use for cleaning pet-friendly areas and even their toys, litter box, and so on. However, the odor might be bothersome, so we do recommend opening a window and using a fan to keep the area ventilated while you clean.

To safely dilute bleach, mix one cup of it into one gallon of water. Adjust this formula proportionately if you need more or less. Then, make sure to rinse all cleaned objects thoroughly.

Ammonia. Ammonia is cheap and effective, but unfortunately can be highly toxic to pets when inhaled or ingested. Since ammonia is present in many oven cleaners, floor waxers, window cleaners, and more, check all product labels for the presence of ammonia. Use only under extreme caution, or not at all.

And of course, remember that the fumes from mixing bleach and ammonia can be deadly – both to you and your pet.

Vinegar. Vinegar is another common and inexpensive cleaning solution, used at a 2:1 ratio. Again, the smell might be the most bothersome part. However, you should take care that your pet does not drink the solution, since it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and oral irritation. Allow cleaned objects and surfaces to thoroughly dry before allowing your pet access to them.

Carpet products. Most commercial carpet cleaners are safe for pets but do check the label before using them. The main danger is allowing your pets access to carpeted rooms before the carpet is dry, in which case gastrointestinal upset or skin irritation can result.

Carpet fresheners are a bit more tricky. Contact with these powders can cause skin irritation, and inhalation can trigger respiratory symptoms. The danger isn’t thought to be deadly, but it is still wise to thoroughly vacuum up these powders before allowing your pet into the room.

Essential oils. While they seem innocuous, probably due to their “natural” labeling, essential oils can actually be quite dangerous to pets. Cats, in particular, are very sensitive to even small amounts of some oils. Gastrointestinal upset, liver damage, and central nervous system depression can occur when oils are ingested, and inhalation can lead to inhalation pneumonia.

The danger from oils varies greatly from one type to another, so a good general rule is to avoid them in homes where pets are present. If you really love oils and wish to use them, check with us regarding each type before use. Some are relatively safe while others are extremely toxic.

When in doubt, always check with us before using a new cleaning or “freshening” product. We can steer you toward safer products but remember that direct inhalation or ingestion of any product can be dangerous. Keep these items stored safely away from your pets.”


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