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Insurance Claims Highlight Household Dangers For Pets

As we all spend more time inside away from wintery weather, PD Insurance is reminding pet owners that their households likely harbour potentially lethal and other threats to the wellbeing of dogs and cats.

This warning emerges from an analysis of recent claims paid by the pet insurance specialist: seemingly innocuous items can cause real damage, and preventing any incident is always far better than cure.

PD Insurance COO Michelle Le Long says some of the dangers come straight out of the blue, demonstrating the necessity for eagle eyes when it comes to identifying pet health risks.

“We’ve had plenty of what many would see as bizarre claims,” she said, “with things as apparently benign as pot plants and essential oils causing life threatening reactions in pets. Nobody wants their furbaby suffering serious illness or requiring an expensive trip to the vet – so we’re reminding pet parents to take extra care.”

Essential oils cause an upset

While lending a pleasant aroma to the home and safe for people, several of these oils are highly toxic to cats and dogs. Worryingly, that’s something many pet owners aren’t aware of, and the very property of oils’ enticing smell can heighten the danger.

In one instance, a PD Insurance customer experienced the effect her essential oil active diffuser had on her cat. When the poor moggy became lethargic and started vomiting, a vet trip uncovered the cat’s exposure to tea tree essential oil. Luckily for all concerned the problem was quickly identified and dealt with, and a lesson learned.

Bad medicine

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A lot of medicine goes untaken and gets left to expire in cupboards, bathroom chests, or just left on bedside tables. This isn’t the sort of stuff anyone should take, much less a perky pup looking for playtime – but it happens. More often than you might imagine.

Le Long says PD Insurance has settled multiple claims where pets have piled into the supply, whether expired or not, and suffered dire consequences. Fortunately, these incidents generally have a positive outcome, particularly where the pharmaceuticals in question are readily and rapidly identified, accelerating treatment.

A six month old Rhodesian Ridgeback named Hazelnut is one case in point – she ate a whole packet of her human sibling’s heart transplant medication and nearly died.

Let’s also spare a thought for the pet parent whose dog got a hold of the cat’s medicine. She can laugh about it now but not everyone’s story ends like this. When it comes to medicines (and things like fertilizer, garden and household chemicals, and laundry and kitchen detergents), Le Long’s advice is simple: “Keep these substances locked away from where pets and children might reach them.” And dispose of the unused and expired stuff.

Plants vs. Pets (or, Feed me Seymour)

Fans of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ will appreciate the dangers associated with pot plants but, jokes aside, some houseplants are highly toxic to cats and dogs. Lilies (including the popular peace lily!), aloes, delicious monsters (aka Monstera deliciosa), jade and snake plants, sago palm and English ivy are all toxic to cats.

It’s worth being aware of what’s in your house and any risk these potentially perilous plants carry for your pets.

“Sometimes, the most harmless of things can be a real danger,” says Le Long. “This doesn’t mean chucking out the plants, but instead knowing what you have and the specific risk it presents to pets. That way, if Fido does for some reason chew on the monstera, you’ll have a plan of what to do and what to tell the vet to get fast and effective treatment.”

Foods and packaging

Human food is not dog and cat food. While the dangers of chocolate are well known to most dog owners, there’s a general rule: pet food for pets, people food for people.

Sticking to that means avoiding any unhealthy mistakes, including those with raisins, grapes, apple seeds, avocado and garlic. Le Long says PD Insurance still gets claims relating to a wide range of such foods that aren’t good for cats or dogs – and advises that even fatty meat and bones can cause upsets like pancreatitis, kidney problems and stomach obstruction.

Watch out for packaging, too. Dogs and cats can be led into trouble by their noses, and there’s a genuine suffocating hazard in chip packets, plastic bags, cling wraps and other containers.

Finally, further on things the fur babies might ingest, watch out for kids’ toys and the batteries they contain. PD Insurance has had claims where these items have been swallowed, with unpleasant and expensive consequences.

“There’s a simple bottom line,” says Le Long, “Pet parents need to be as mindful as people parents. What you’d keep a human baby away from is broadly speaking what you should also keep from your furbaby. A safer household will benefit your pets, your wallet and your heart.”

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