All orders made before 1pm Monday-Friday (excl. public holidays) will be same-day dispatch!

Handy Ways to Check if you have a NZ Pet Safe Home

Posted on May 31 2024

Handy Ways to Check if you have a NZ Pet Safe Home

Our dogs are great at giving us those puppy dog eyes when they’re hungry, or jumping up and down at the mention of a walk, but when it comes to dangers in their environment, they don’t have the language to let us know.  This is our domain, and our responsibility.  We need to be tuned in to signs of toxicity such as a rash, itchy skin or dermatitis.  As good pet owners we need to know what is safe and what isn’t for our pets.  So, let’s have a look at some things in your home environment that may surprise you!

Is your Home Pet Safe?

Chemicals in the home:

It’s no surprise that the cleaning products are on the top of the list of toxic dangers for our pets.  Any of these can cause irritation or harm so they should be stored away safely, or you can even swap to eco-friendly, non-toxic brands.   Other household items to think about might surprise you though, such as paints, deodorants and perfumes.  These less obvious ones can be left out where our dogs can easily get to them, so remember to keep them out of reach.  They also add to the intoxicants when our pets breathe them in.

Another thing you might not have considered is cosmetics.  We may use these on our own skin, which is often also questionable, but having them lying around is not safe for our pets.  Products such as nail polish or nail polish remover, make-up etc. could be harmful if ingested or breathed in, such is the case with the chemical ingredient toluene.  Learning to use a ‘baby proofing’ mindset for your pets is a good idea.

Toxic foods:

Some foods to be aware of include onions, chewing gum (with Xylitol), chocolate, caffeine, raisins, grapes and avocados.  While you might not intentionally give these to your dog, being aware of the risks means you can keep them out of reach. 

If you suspect your dog may have eaten any of these keep a close eye on them and look out for signs of poisoning such as vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. 

Is your Garden Pet Safe?

In New Zealand we have a few plants that are toxic to animals, including daffodils, ivy, bird of paradise, tomato plant, elephant ear, aloe vera and lilies.  One of the main ones to watch out for is the Karaka tree because during the summer months they have berries which fall to the ground and, if eaten, they can be fatal!  The signs of poisoning from these berries are vomiting, weakness, convulsions and confusion.  Note, the symptoms can develop a day or two after consumption.

Other toxic risks in your garden are weed killers and fertilizers which can increase the risk of cancer in our dogs.  Make sure to buy organic, chemical-free products for your garden.  In case you are not aware the slug bait Blitzem is toxic to pets whereas the brand Slug-no-more is not toxic.  Quash sits in between these two in toxicity to pets.

Credit: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa on Unsplash

What about when you’re out on a walk?

A big concern for dogs in New Zealand are sea slugs.  With beach walks being a favourite activity, this one is vitally important to be educated on.  Sea slugs are highly toxic to dogs and have resulted in deaths in the past.  Sea slugs are small, growing up to 10cm so be on the lookout for them when walking your dog on the beach!  Signs of poisoning include vomiting, colour change in the gums, shivering, diarrhea and being unsteady on their feet.

Another environmental danger is toxic algae which grows on rocks in river beds and by lakes around New Zealand.  It can come loose and wash ashore and is highly toxic both for our dogs and for us!  Toxic algae can be fatal.  Sign of poisoning include lethargy, fast breathing, paralysis and convulsions. 

Credit: Our Auckland, Auckland Council

Lastly, don’t forget the Garage!

Because we don’t tend to make a habit of hanging out in the garage this can be forgotten.  But, accidents happen and we need to cover all our bases.  Make sure you don’t have any spills or leaks that can cause harm to your pets.  Cats particularly find the taste of antifreeze appealing!

Go through your garage and do a safety check.  Look for items like rat poison or slug bait.  Keep chemicals like these stored away on shelves or in drawers where your animals can’t get to them, or change to pet-friendly brands.

One last thing

Back to the home for one last thing!  We seldom think about this for ourselves let alone for our dogs, but mould is a toxin we really need to be aware of for the whole family.  Mould is a fungus that grows anywhere there is moisture.  It spreads by releasing spores into the air.  Mould can cause lung and respiratory issues, digestive problems, allergies and it can also damage the gastrointestinal tract.

Check places in your home that can be damp, like the bathrooms.  Also, areas that are cluttered, where there isn’t enough air flow.  Other places mould can be found are the air-conditioner ducts and the drip tray for your fridge.  The main takeaway here is to keep your home as clean and dry as possible so that the mould cannot spread.  Cleaning with a dilution of clove essential oil is very effective at killing mould.  Also, you might want to invest in an air purifier or dehumidifier if you can.  It also appears that EMF increases mould spore count as confirmed by a recent study.

What to do in the case of Poisoning

If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned it’s very important to NOT induce vomiting.  Identify what the cause of the poisoning is and get your pet to the vet as soon as possible, taking any identification you have on the poison ie. empty bottle, box etc with you.  Signs that your pet may be poisoned include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle twitches, seizures, restlessness and increased urination.

If it will take a long time to reach your vets you can administer 1 activated charcoal tablet contents with as much water as you can get your dog to take, so good supplement to have on hand.  Check with your vet before administering.