Safe Spring Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners
When the weather warms and spring rolls in, people get the urge to declutter and deep clean their homes and garages. If you’re a pet owner, use the tips below from Pet Poison Helpline to make sure your pets stay safe and are kept away from toxic cleaning products.
The best thing any pet owner can do is to be educated on common household toxins, and to make sure you pet-proof your house appropriately. Make sure to keep cleaning products up and out of your pet’s reach, but when in doubt, if you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or a pet poison helpline.
Keep pets away while cleaning
When spring cleaning, be safe and keep all pets out of the area of cleaning until the room is well ventilated and all cleaning products have dried.
Strong acidic or alkaline cleaners
These pose the highest risk—the most dangerous cleaning products are those which may cause corrosive injury or chemical burns. These include rust removers, toilet bowel cleaners, lye, drain cleaners and calcium/lime removers.
These are safe in small doses—cleaners such as glass cleaners, spot removers and most surface cleaners have a wide margin of safety. If ingested in small amounts, most only cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. Also, if they touch pet’s skin, they may cause mild irritation. Therefore, it’s still wise to keep these products out of reach.
Read the label
Cleaning labels can provide helpful information, as long as you understand the terminology. Key words to look for include "danger" and "warning" as this indicates products with higher toxicity or the potential to cause chemical burns. Items that use "caution" as their primary signal word are "less toxic" than those using "danger."
Risk varies by type of animal
Birds and other exotic pets may be more sensitive to cleaning products, especially products that are aerosolized. “Birds have a unique respiratory anatomy called air sacs, which results in particular sensitivity to fragrances and aerosolized chemicals,” says Dr. Justine Lee, Associate Director of Veterinary Services at Pet Poison Helpline. To be safe, aerosolized products should not be used in the same room as caged or free birds.
"Natural" does not always mean "safe"
Some natural products can and will cause just as many problems as more traditional cleaners.
Updated: March 26, 2014