How to make your spring cleaning safe for your pets

Take care: It's important to remember your pets while you're spring cleaning, and make sure they can't access common household items that can cause them danger.
Take care: It's important to remember your pets while you're spring cleaning, and make sure they can't access common household items that can cause them danger.

With spring in the air, it might be time to give your house a big clean out. It's a chance to tackle the clutter that's accumulated over winter, and to freshen the house up.

It's important to remember your pets while you're spring cleaning, though, and make sure they can't access common household items that can cause them danger.

While you're sorting through, keep an eye out for these household dangers and take appropriate action to either throw them out or keep them somewhere safe away from your much-loved pets.

Medications

Any human and animal prescription medications can be toxic to pets. One of the most common is paracetamol, which is incredibly toxic to cats, even in tiny amounts. Ibuprofen is similarly toxic for dogs. Some medications can also be dangerous if they're used incorrectly, for example, some flea-prevention treatments for dogs contain ingredients that are highly toxic to cats.

Never medicate your pet without your vet's advice and keep all medications in sealed containers well out of reach of your pet's curious paws (and jaws!).

Foods

The list may seem long, but it's important to keep these in mind and away from your furry friends. Chocolate, onions, and garlic (including the powdered versions, used in - for example - baby food), macadamia nuts, raisins, grapes and foods containing caffeine are all very much off the menu.

Fat trimmings from meat can cause pancreatitis, a very painful and dangerous condition.

Although we humans may love smashed avo on toast, avocado is toxic to many pets including birds, dogs, mice, rabbits, horses, and livestock.

Cooked bones can splinter and cause all kinds of problems in your pets' tummy, and foods such as raw fish, liver, and sugary foods can lead to metabolic diseases. See all the no-go foods for dogs and cats here.

Antifreeze

Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which tastes sweet, is attractive to animals and deadly if eaten even in small amounts. Ethylene glycol poisoning is rarely seen in Australia, however, be conscious of its potential as a poison regardless.

String

String and similar items such as dental floss, yarn, and rubber bands are often loved by cats as play toys, but they can actually cause potentially deadly intestinal obstructions if eaten. Don't risk it, and find your cat a safe toy to enjoy.

Xylitol (sugar substitute)

This low-carbohydrate sugar substitute is used as a sweetener in chewing gum, some toothpastes, some low-fat peanut butters and baked goods. While safe for humans to eat, it is metabolised differently by dogs. After a dog eats xylitol, they can develop low blood sugar leading to seizures and death, if not treated immediately. Xylitol consumption can also cause liver failure and clotting problems in dogs. Always check peanut butter for xylitol if you plan on using it as a treat.

Rat, snail and slug baits

This is a relatively common form of poisoning seen in pets and is both distressing and dangerous. Dogs especially can be attracted to baits in pellet form as they look similar to dry dog food.

Head to the RSPCA Knowledgebase for more advice on what common household and garden items can be toxic to pets.