November 14, 2018

Clean Out Your Fridge on November 15!

a cat on a kitchen counter

Did you know that November 15 is National Clean Your Refrigerator Day? It’s perfect timing for the holiday season, especially if you have plans for a big holiday meal or special baking. 

But what do clean refrigerators and your pets have in common? According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), those rotten and expired food items that get thrown in the trash may be very tempting to your four-legged friends—and very bad for them, too.  

While there are a variety of problems caused by pets ingesting rotten or expired food, the number-one concern is gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea). While GI upset in pets can be mild, it can sometimes be more significant and require veterinary care. It could even put some pets at risk for pancreatitis.  

But what’s in the trash? 

Moldy foods often get tossed when we clean out our refrigerators, and these can be a major threat to dogs. If your dog ingested food that is moldy, he could develop serious problems. Certain molds that grow on foods such as dairy, grains, breads and nuts can produce a toxin that will cause mild to severe muscle tremors. If left untreated, tremors can cause a life-threatening increase in body temperature, seizures and kidney injury.  

Grapes are another common fridge item that are very important to keep away from pets. Pets who ingest grapes can develop vomiting, diarrhea and possible kidney injury.  

Baking soda is commonly used in refrigerators for odor control, and you’ve got to swap it out every so often. If a pet eats too much baking soda, it can cause an elevation in the animal’s sodium level. If their sodium level gets too high, problems such as unsteadiness on the feet, muscle tremors and seizures can be seen. 

Raw meat and eggs are another potential concern. Raw meat and eggs may contain troublesome bacteria (e.g. Salmonella, Listeria or Clostridium) that can result in gastrointestinal disease, septicemia (blood poisoning) or even death.

Other items such as bones and corn cobs can cause an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract. Curious pets often need surgery to remove these types of items should they get stuck.

But those aren’t the only dangers that could be lurking in your fridge. See our full list of potentially toxic foods so that you’ll be prepared to prevent any accidental pet poisonings on November 15 and beyond. 

Don’t be afraid to clean out your fridge this week—in fact, feel empowered to! Just be aware and make sure to take the garbage out right away or put it in a place far out of paws’ reach. Also, don’t forget: while you’re scrubbing down your fridge, make sure to keep any cleaning products out of reach. With proper prevention, you can keep a tidy kitchen and keep your pets safe without cause for concern! 

If you believe that your pet has ingested something potentially toxic, contact your veterinarian or the APCC at (888) 426-4435 immediately for assistance.