4 Ways to Keep Your Pet Away From the Vet

Photo (cc) by South L.A.

When a Golden Retriever named Isabella got sick last year, the vet bill cost $1,500 – all because she got into some marijuana

The drug – along with a razor and a bra strap – is just one of the strange things pets managed to swallow last year, according to Embrace Pet Insurance.

When company officials analyzed accident claims from 2011, they found vet trips cost from $32 to $3,000 after a pet swallowed something dangerous. Many were mundane items. But here’s Embrace’s Crazy Top 5 by name, breed, item, and vet bill…

  1. Isabella, Golden Retriever: THC (marijuana) intoxication ($1,475.50)
  2. Sasha, Samoyed: razor in stomach ($1,452.05)
  3. Peanut, Labrador: ingestion of marbles ($312.25)
  4. Regen, Bernese Mountain Dog: soft toy ingestion ($156.86)
  5. Sappho, Russian Blue cat: ingested portion of bra strap ($121.46)

But the craziest part isn’t what pets swallow: It’s that the suffering and expense are preventable. From houseplants to medication to human foods, our homes can be a dangerous place for furry friends. Learn what’s harmful to your pet and you could save both money and a life.

Embrace Pet Insurance has created a list of some of the most common pet poisons, but it’s just a starting point. The way to make sure your pets are safe is to learn what makes them unsafe. Fortunately, almost everything you need is online….

1. Know your houseplants

Marijuana isn’t the only plant that can make your pet sick. Dieffenbachia, popular for its air-cleansing abilities, is toxic to cats and dogs. The castor bean plant contains ricin, which can be lethal to cats, dogs, and humans alike in even small doses. Beautiful flowering plants like daffodils and lilies – popular at Easter – can make your pet sick.

If you own houseplants, the only way to be safe is to research every one. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, offers a free database of hundreds of plants with thorough notes on whether a plant is toxic to cats, dogs, or horses. It’s a great starting place, but you shouldn’t rely on it exclusively. To be safe, mention your houseplants to your vet.

2. Reserve human food for human beings

Chocolate – which many dog owners already know can be lethal to their best friends – isn’t the only human food that’s dangerous to pets. The American Humane Association says onions can destroy a dog’s red blood cells, causing anemia. Grapes can cause kidney failure, leading to death.

Unless you’re trying to give Fido a costly weight problem, you shouldn’t be feeding him from the table in the first place. But if you’re going to do it anyway, at least be sure you’re not about to feed him something poisonous. As with houseplants, the only way to be safe is to do homework first.

3. Be careful with medications

WebMD lists human medications as the No. 1 cat poison, and the ASPCA’s list of the Top 10 Human Medications That Poison Our Pets includes some of the most commonly prescribed human medications: antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, and diabetes medications. The ASPCA’s list even includes over-the-counter medications like vitamin D and the decongestant pseudoephedrine (found in Sudafed and other name brands).

To keep your pets (not to mention your children) safe, store all medications and supplements out of reach. If your prescriptions don’t come with safety lids, talk to your pharmacist. Most will provide them free.

And be careful when you take your medications. I find it’s easy to accidentally drop a pill, not be able to quickly find it, and take another pill from the bottle without thinking. But if you don’t find that pill, your curious pet or child might. When I managed a doctor’s office a few years ago, this happened with an elderly patient: Her daughter called because her Yorkie ate a thyroid pill that the patient didn’t realize had been dropped. (The Yorkie lived.)

4. Store cleaners, chemicals, and pesticides safely

If you have children, you’ve probably already checked your house to ensure cleaners, chemicals, and pesticides are out of reach. The same goes for pets.

While you’re double-checking the house, don’t forget the garage. Antifreeze’s sweet smell and taste make it particularly dangerous to pets, says the Humane Society. It only takes a few tablespoons of the liquid to put your pet’s life at risk, so the Humane Society recommends switching to a brand that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.

And don’t overlook cigarettes and alcohol. They’re not healthy for humans in large doses, but they can be deadly to pets in small doses.

For more ways to keep pets healthy and vet bills down, check out 5 Tips to Help Your Pet Lose Weight.

Karla Bowsher runs our Deals page and covers consumer, retail, and health issues. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment or contact her at [email protected].

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon
9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon

You don’t have to be a Prime member to take advantage of these little-known perks of shopping on Amazon.

9 Free Things That Used to Cost Us Money
9 Free Things That Used to Cost Us Money

Not everything is getting more expensive.

8 Things I Always Buy at Costco
8 Things I Always Buy at Costco

From bacon to birthday cakes, here are my favorite deals at the popular warehouse store.

4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less
4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less

Here’s how to ditch cable and satellite TV — and save a bundle — without giving up your favorite shows.

8 Ways to Slash Your Internet Bill
8 Ways to Slash Your Internet Bill

No matter what price you are paying for internet service, taking these simple steps can lower it.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.