Wake Up 2 Spring: Household cleaning products that are toxic to pets

HOUSTON – As you start to do deep spring cleaning, pet owners should be warned that this time of year the Houston Humane Society says more pets are rushed to emergency vets for ingesting household products or insecticides.

Monica Schmidt with the Houston Humane Society said the most frequent cases of pet toxicity they see is when dogs or cats get into insecticides and rodent killers. Remember, what attracts pests will attract all animals.

Therefore, she warns you to be careful about where you leave products. Some may be directly in front of you and you may not even realize they’re poisonous!

“You know some of the most toxic things that we use are like stained guards and furniture cleaners and spot cleaners because they're very concentrated to lift up those stains,” Schmidt said if you read the instructions, some say they should sit and dry for hours. During that time, she suggests locking pets away from the treatments.

According to Animal Poison Control, the most dangerous cleaning products include rust removers, toilet bowl, drain cleaners and calcium/lime removers.

Everything else from bleach to Swiffers can be used safely as long as you use them properly.

“It's very critical that you're actually following the instructions when you're diluting the chemical down so that you're not using straight bleach,” Schmidt warned.

Instructions are printed on the bottle. 

Most of the time the instructions say to let the solutions fully dry before touching them, which is important for pets.

“They start licking their paws, licking their hind legs or their front legs and ingesting those chemicals so if it's still wet they're actually absorbing a lot more versus if it's completely dried,” Schmidt explained.

Don't mistake "natural" cleaners for safe either.

“Different essential oils are going to have different levels of toxicity. There's even some that may be more toxic to cats versus what might be toxic to dogs. So if you do want to use essential oils, we recommend you sit down with your veterinarian, you talk about the animals that are in your household and you talk about the exact types of essential oils you want to use and let them help you figure out what's safe,” Schmidt said.

You have to be extremely cautious about where you're keeping these cleaning products and making sure pets can't get to them. Some of the damage they can do is attack their nervous system and Schmidt said one of the first signs they've ingested too much can be lethargy or seizures, but by the time they show that it might be too late.