It's that time of the year again...time for spring cleaning, that is. As winter fades away and the weather warms up, many of us use this time of year as an excuse to do some major cleaning. And we often look for the best and most effective cleaners without thinking about what's in them and how they can affect our pets. Unfortunately, a lot of common cleaners have chemicals that are toxic to our furry friends. This doesn't mean we can't use them, it just means we have to be careful with them. Here are five household cleaners ingredients to watch out for:
1. Chlorine and Bleach
Chlorine and bleach are often found in toilet bowl cleaners, dishwasher detergent and some general disinfectants. But they are toxic to our pets - inhalation can cause damage to the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, while consumption can cause serious poisoning. Symptoms of poisoning are coughing, vomiting, lethargy, drooling, diarrhea and seizures, among others. Keep anything containing chlorine or bleach out of your dog's reach and make sure to properly dilute chlorine if you have a pool.
Ammonia is a common ingredient in cleaners for ovens, windows, floors, stainless steel surfaces and beyond. But it can cause burns, irritation, or damage to your dog's nose, mouth and throat. And continued exposure to ammonia can lead to respiratory issues, early signs of which include coughing or trouble breathing. If you're using ammonia in spray-form, make sure your dog is in another room.
3. Glycol Ethers
Glycol ethers are commonly found in liquid soaps, all-purpose cleaners and spot treatment cleaners. They are usually denoted in the ingredients list as “ethylene glycol,” “propylene glycol,” or “diethylene glycol.” But all glycol ethers, no matter the name, are toxic to dogs if consumed and can cause anemia or lung and kidney damage. Symptoms of glycol ether poisoning come in three stages:
- Stage 1 (30 min-12 hours post-ingestion) - your dog may be very thirsty and urinating more, uncoordinated, drooling, vomiting and experiencing seizures.
- Stage 2: (12-24 hours post-ingestion) - your dog may appear to get better, but severe internal injuries are usually occurring.
- Stage 3: (36-72 hours post-ingestion) - your dog may not want to eat, be tired, drooling, vomiting, and experiencing seizures or even coma. Often, dogs at this stage are in severe kidney failure.
Formaldehyde is often associated with funeral homes because it's most commonly used in the embalming process. But it's also found in household items like soaps, all-purpose cleaners, shampoos (including some pet shampoos) and fragrances. Formaldehyde can cause skin and eye irritation in dogs and also has negative effects on their respiratory and nervous systems. In addition, formaldehyde is recognized as a carcinogen by the EPA, meaning it can (though doe not always) cause cancer.
5. Quarternary Ammonium Compounds
Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, also known as “QUATS,” are commonly found in fabric softeners and many items labeled "antibacterial." But they can cause skin irritations, like contact dermatitis, in dogs. Symptoms include skin inflammation, itchiness, blisters, sore patches, hair loss, lesions or ulcers, red patches and scaly, dry or thickened skin.
When using household cleaners with chemicals that are potentially harmful to your dog, keep your dog occupied in another room away from the cleaners. Make sure all cleaners have dried before letting your dog near them. And clean up any and all spills quickly!