Raleigh, NC — It’s spring cleaning time but that can mean you might have some cleaning products that could be dangerous to your pet.
For tips on how to keep your pet safe during spring cleaning, we reached out to Dr. Ed Faulkner, owner of Weddington Animal Hospital in Matthews, NC, and president-elect of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCVMA).
See our Q&A with Dr. Faulker below:
How do you know which cleaning products are safe to use?
Dr. Faulkner: The first step to take when selecting safe cleaning products is doing your research and reading the labels. Start by looking for products that have limited “hazard words,” such as “caution,” “warning” and “danger.” Be sure the products you select specify they can be used around pets, whether on the label itself or the product’s website. Contact your vet if you have any questions or concerns.
What are the most common toxic cleaning products for pets hiding in our cabinets?
Dr. Faulkner: Many cleaning products are made with chemicals like bleach, quaternary ammonium, hydrogen peroxide, phenols, formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine and isopropyl alcohol, which can be potentially toxic. These chemicals hide in laundry detergent, toilet bowl cleaners, window cleaners and carpet cleaners. It’s important to check labels for these ingredients. Even natural ingredients can be dangerous, such as essential oils, which are toxic to cats.
How can you clean safely with pets in the house?
Dr. Faulkner: It’s best to keep pets out of recently cleaned rooms to reduce their chances of breathing in toxic fumes. Make sure any surfaces that have been wiped down or sprayed are completely dry before allowing pets back in the room. By ventilating rooms and storing disinfectants out of your pet’s reach, spring cleaning should be a breeze.
What symptoms should you watch for in your pet in case of exposure?
Dr. Faulkner: Dogs suffering from poisoning or toxicosis can display symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, difficulty breathing, seizures or twitching, coughing, drooling or salivation, excessive urinating or drinking, loss of appetite, and overall weakness. Contact your vet if you’re concerned your cat or dog may have ingested a toxic product or shows signs of abnormality.
How can you safely store dangerous chemicals to protect pets?
Dr. Faulkner: Products with potentially harmful or toxic ingredients should be stored in pet-proof bins or a location away from curious animals. Clean up all rags, sponges, and other tools, and safely store them out of reach once you’re done using them. The remaining chemicals on these items could be harmful. Clean any spilled substances to avoid your cat or dog walking through the spill and ingesting dangerous toxins when cleaning itself. Discarded cleaning supplies should be in secured trash bins animals cannot access.
What are the most common ways pets ingest these toxins?
Dr. Faulkner: Pets could be accidentally sprayed, drink the water from a freshly cleaned toilet, knock over a container, or walk through a spill or on a recently treated surface. Keep your pet out of the room until it’s completely dry and well ventilated, and keep items like sponges, rags, and even detergent pods that may look like toys out of pets’ reach.