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
12 Tech Gadgets That Make Daily Life Easier
12 Tech Gadgets That Make Daily Life Easier

These products on Amazon will ease worries and simplify your routine.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

16 Products You Absolutely Do Not Need
16 Products You Absolutely Do Not Need

You can safely leave these products on the store shelf.

7 Effortless Ways to Make Extra Money
7 Effortless Ways to Make Extra Money

In the digital age, new ways of earning cash crop up all the time — and some require next to no effort on your part.

The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station
The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station

Beware these cash-guzzling missteps when you stop at any gas station.

View this page without ads

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

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

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.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

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.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say

One major wireless provider stands out for the least reliable call, messaging and data services.

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.