The Indirect Threat COVID-19 Presents for Pets
With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, people are actively using hand sanitizers and other products to kill germs and keep from falling ill. However, this upswing in the use of cleaning chemicals has put pets at risk. Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center with a 24/7 phone hotline, reported a 100% increase in calls regarding the misuse of cleaning items compared to last year.
“People are very concerned about their families during this COVID-19 crisis, and that includes their pets,” said Dr. Ahna Brutlag, senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline, in a statement.
In response to the increase in inquiries, Pet Poison Helpline put together a video with tips on how to help keep pets safe from cleaning chemicals.
Pet parents should first take note that cleaning chemicals aren’t just risky for cats and dogs. Birds, reptiles and other exotic species can be sensitive to toxic fumes from common household cleaners, which is why pet parents should do their best to keep animal companions out of an area that they’re cleaning. If cleaning in a small enclosed space like a bathroom, the door should be closed with a window kept open or an exhaust fan turned on.
Proper care should also be taken with cleaning supplies. A mop bucket could pose a problem as dogs or cats could be tempted to drink from it. Used paper towels or sanitizing wipes should be disposed of in a covered trash can that pets can’t access. When not being used, cleaning supply bottles should be closed and stored in a place that pets can’t reach.
If a spill does occur, pet parents should keep pets from accessing the area until it is cleaned up. Even just walking through a bleach spill can cause damage to and irritate a pet’s skin. The pet could then consume the chemical by grooming its fur. Even small amounts of bleach can cause stomach irritation and vomiting in pets. If bleach goes into a pet’s eye, water should be used to rinse it out.
Pet parents should also take care with properly using hand sanitizer. If ingested by a pet, hand sanitizer can quickly cause intoxication and vomiting, and make their blood sugar to drop enough to induce a comatose state.
When using various cleaning chemicals, pet parents should take care not to mix them. Cleaning chemicals can be corrosive, and mixing bleach with chemicals like ammonia can release chlorine and chloramine gases that can be toxic for both humans and animals.
In the event a pet is exposed to chemicals, pet parents should contact a veterinarian for assistance or a poison control hotline.