Spring Cleaning with Pet Safety In Mind!

by Dr. Doug Pernikoff, DVM

Wow! We have had a pretty snowy winter this year and as we approach spring, we need to plan our cleaning exercises with our pets’ safety in mind. What do I mean by this? Spring cleaning means that a lot of furniture and houseplants will be shuffled around, and out come all those useful, but dangerous cleaning agents. Always be sure to place those agents out of pet reach, as we are all always surprised at the strange things animals will taste, explore or simply make into a batting toy. Exposure to many of these cleansing agents can create ulcers and worse, if ingested, or may cause chemical burns with contact to skin or eyes. If you suspect a true exposure and concern for your pet, be sure to contact your veterinarian or emergency animal facility before trying to induce vomiting, or any other treatment you deem useful. On the other hand, if your pet has exposure to a chemical agent affecting the eyes, or skin, it is usually safe and correct to immediately rinse those areas off with tap water, as soon as possible.

Other concerns might be exposure to insects and spiders that were otherwise, hidden under furniture. The brown recluse spider is one of the most common house spiders in Missouri. They tend to hide in dark, moist areas like under the kitchen or bathroom sink, or even in drawers as they nest in clothing items. Their venom can be very irritating and even cause tissue death or necrosis, if enough venom is injected. The typical response you might see is initially slight swelling and redness in a circular pattern. Over time the circle tends to enlarge as the venom and its path of damage move outward from the central bite region. In worse case scenarios, the tissue may have to be surgically removed, so a quick response and visit to the vet may help reduce the degree or amount of tissue damage that could occur.

As we move to the basement and garage, those darn chemicals and fertilizers are still a threat to our beloved critters. We simply need to be careful and alert to where we place items, and always remember to keep lids secure when not immediately in use. One significant threat may occur when we change our antifreeze from our cars. This chemical is highly toxic to our dog and cat kidneys, causing kidney failure with even small amounts of dosing. The problem with antifreeze or ethylene glycol as it is officially named, is that it is sweet and tasty to animals. It is really critical to wash down any areas that are exposed to drippage or spillage.

One final chemical concern for you is the presence of rat and mouse poisons. These drugs are variations of the coumadin drug that many older adults have to take as a blood thinner. The commercial compounds do the same but in an exaggerated fashion. A small amount of poison ingested by our dogs and cats can also prove fatal. One problem is that we often have no idea of exposure until our pets are ill. They may spontaneously bleed from nearly any orifice, and again, by the time there are symptoms, it may be a critical situation. So, keep your eyes open and be sure to discard any such packages of rodenticides as soon as you find them. And, once more, should you have any concern of exposure to any of the chemicals or toxins mentioned here, then please alert your veterinarian as soon as possible. Please have a safe and enjoyable spring awakening!
Fondly, Dr. Doug Pernikoff, Clarkson-Wilson Veterinary Clinic, dpernikoff@gmail.com.

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