It’s not always easy to see things from the perspective of your pet. Not only are humans viewing the world at a totally different height than their cats and dogs, they also experience the world differently with their senses that humans do. Dogs have poorer eyesight than people, so they experience and explore their environment through their sense of smell. Cats use both their superior night time and peripheral vision and their heightened sense of smell to interpret the world.
When it comes to the garage, there are all kinds of hazards that pets may come into contact with. Not only may humans not be aware of what some of these hazards are, they may not even realize they are there. However, your pets will. If you don’t take proper precautions and preventative measures, you could end up with a very sick pet, or worse.
Tailored Living/Premier Garage’s commitment to customer satisfaction also extends to the four-legged members of its customers’ families. Because spring and summer bring warmer weather, which also tends to put pets in a much more explorative frame of mind, we wanted to share with our customers ten of the most common pet garage hazards and what you can do to keep your pets away from them.
By the way, almost all of the substances that are hazardous to pets are also toxic or harmful to people. While you know better than to drink antifreeze, your toddler may not, so these tips are also useful for parents of young children:
1) Ethylene glycol: This substance is the chief ingredient in antifreeze, a liquid which almost every pet owner knows is lethal to pets, even in very small doses. What many pet owners don’t realize is that ethylene glycol can be found in many other products besides antifreeze. Some of the most surprising include brake fluid, some paint and stain products, agricultural fungicides, caulking material, glass cleaner and numerous other types of cleaners. Don’t assume that the nasty scent of these products will turn pets off, either. Ethylene glycol has a sweet flavour, and it only takes one lick for a pet to get hooked. Ingesting even a little bit almost always results in pet death within hours, and a great deal of suffering leading up to it.
How to avoid it: Always store antifreeze and other chemicals out of reach of pets. High shelves are a good solution; a closed cabinet is even better. Cats can climb, so keep this in mind when selecting a storage spot. Make sure to re-cap all containers when non in use. Never leave antifreeze or other chemicals in a catch pan. Store all chemicals, including antifreeze, in their original containers. Make sure the containers are always clearly labelled.
2) Diethylene glycol: This compound derived from ethylene glycol can be just as deadly, though it does so differently than ethylene glycol. It is found in many of the same products as ethylene glycol, particularly in solvents. It, too, has a sweet taste and so is attractive to pets and sometimes children.
How to avoid it: The same principles apply here as for ethylene glycol: keep it out of reach of pets and kids. Better yet, keep it behind closed cabinet doors.
3) De-icing salt: It’s commonly used in winter time to melt snow and ice on roads, and it’s very effective but is notoriously corrosive to the metal in vehicles. Many people don’t realize that it’s also bad for cats and dogs. It contains the same kind of salt that is in table salt, and table salt in excessive amounts is bad for everyone, pets and people alike. However, de-icing salt also contains other ingredients. These ingredients can cause damage mouth and throat burns. In bigger amounts it can lead to liver failure and death.
Even if you don’t keep de-icing salt in your garage, you carry it in on your tires any time it is used on local roads. Both cats and dogs have been known to lick their paws after walking on de-iced roads and sidewalks and then get sick and even die. Thankfully we don’t get much snow and ice here in the Lower Mainland, but you should still remain watchful in the winter time.
How to avoid it: If you keep a supply of your own de-icing salt, make sure it is kept up high or in a cabinet or pet-proof container. Hose down your garage floor after bad weather when you know you may have tracked salt in on your tires.
4) Car Battery acid: Car batteries contain sulfuric acid. It is unlikely that a pet will ingest battery acid by licking it off the garage floor, although it’s not out of the question. The more likely scenario is that a pet may accidentally walk through it and then like it off of its paw. Contact with sulfuric acid on any part of the body can cause burns to the skin. If it is ingested, it can burn the mouth and throat. It may even lead to death.
How to avoid it: Don’t store car batteries in your garage. If for some reason you must, make sure that they are sealed and not in a place where they can be easily knocked over. Keep them in a closed cabinet if possible. If your pet does accidentally come into contact with battery acid, you may actually see burns on its skin.
5) Rodent bait: Rat and mouse poisons contain a whole host of different ingredients, all of which can cause illness or death in pets. Different types contain different ingredients, but the most common kinds contain blood thinners (anti-coagulants). If your dog or cat ingests this type, it can lead to internal bleeding.
How to avoid it: Choose a non-chemical mode of ridding your garage of unwanted rodents, such as traps (there are lots of different types on the market). If you must use rodenticides, use only those that have measures in place to prevent pets from accessing the poison inside the device. You can also choose rodenticides that are toxic to rodents but not to other animals, although this kind of claim may not always be reliable. Watch for signs of poisoning like abnormal bleeding, hematomas (bumps on the skin containing blood) or other abnormal behavior. Exposure to rodenticides can successfully be treated in pets if caught in time.
6) Fertilizer: The basic ingredients in most fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) are themselves dangerous if ingested. Fertilizers may have a long list of other ingredients and additives that are equally or even more toxic.
How to avoid it: Keep fertilizer bags closed. Better yet, keep it in pet-proof containers. Store it behind a closed cabinet door if possible.
7) Cleaning and automotive fluids: These types of liquids contain ingredients that are harmful to pets if ingested. Even if not ingested, some can cause burns to the skin, should your pet come into contact with them. They may even emit fumes that are dangerous to pets if not stored properly.
How to avoid it: Always keep automotive fluids and cleaners of any kind out of reach of pets and in a cabinet if possible. Make sure all containers are completely closed/sealed and clearly labelled. Always store them in their original containers.
8) Carbon monoxide: This is an obvious danger, yet people don’t always associate carbon monoxide poisoning with pets. If a pet is left inside of a closed garage with a vehicle that is running for even a few minutes, it can lead to death.
How to avoid it: Don’t run your vehicle in your garage, or if you do make sure that the door is open.
9) Power cords: Some cats and many dogs (especially puppies) love to chew things, and electrical cords are no exception. Animals have been known to chew right through electrical cords. The obvious danger is electrocution, but other materials in cords can also be harmful to pets.
How to avoid it: Ensure that any electrical cords (such as the one to your deep freeze) cannot be accessed by your pets. Roll up and secure any extra length of cord.
10) Clutter: A garage full of clutter carries all kinds of risks to pets. It may hide things that you aren’t aware are there, like rodent traps and even wild animals. Precariously-stacked piles can topple over and trap or crush pets.
How to avoid it: Keep your garage free from clutter. Be careful when stacking items, like boxes. Keep things organized and have a designated place for everything in your garage. Know what’s in, behind and around any stacked items.
The best way to keep pets safe from garage hazards is simply to keep them out of the garage. If your dog likes to hang out with you while you are tinkering around in the garage, just make sure you don’t leave him there unsupervised, and bring him inside with you when you’re done. Never leave an animal in the garage overnight. Besides all of the above dangers, pets can suffer hypothermia or heat stroke in a garage very quickly. Veterinarians agree that the garage isn’t a good place for cats and dogs.