Keeping Pets Safe During Home Repairs

June 1, 2022


With spring and summer comes nice weather, outdoor activities and home improvements we pushed off during the winter months. Of course, with home repairs comes lots of items our furry friends may not be used to, and therefore, may be curious of. In order to keep your pets safe while making your house look great, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has created this list of potential pet toxins to keep out of paw’s reach!

Nails, screws and wires—Aside from the risk of external wounds, if swallowed these items may become stuck or even puncture delicate organs like the stomach, intestines and esophagus. Some may contain zinc, which can result in digestive upset, red blood cell damage, liver or kidney failure and pancreatitis. Always make sure to double check your surroundings for any nails, screws and wires before leaving the area. 

Lead paint—Many paints made prior to 1978 contain lead. Paint can be ingested by pets as larger pieces flake off or even turn into dust and settle on pet’s coats—which can be ingested when pets groom themselves. Signs of lead poisoning include gastrointestinal signs, incoordination, muscle tremors, seizures and even death. Make sure to keep your pets out of the room and sweep up any paint flakes left behind. 

Current paints, varnishes and stains—Most indoor paints, varnishes and stains are water based and will cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. Outdoor paints, stains and varnishes are frequently hydrocarbon based and may pose a risk for aspiration if the animal vomits. 

Paint thinners and strippers can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, nervous system signs—such as lethargy, incoordination and tremors—aspiration and dermal irritation/burns. Be sure to cover any paints, varnishes, stains and paint thinners or strippers when not in use and keep pets out of the room until paint has dried. 

Spackle and caulk—Spackle and caulk sometimes contain ethylene glycol, the same toxic chemical found in antifreeze. Thankfully, the amount is very low and would not be expected to cause kidney damage. These products can be irritating to the stomach so vomiting and diarrhea can occur if they are ingested. 

Spray foam insulation and polyurethane glues—These products can contain isocyanates which are compounds that expand in the stomach if ingested. This often forms a large foreign body in the stomach that needs to be surgically removed. In order to prevent any problems, keep these items stored in closed and secure cabinets when not in use so that snooping noses cannot get to them. 

Fiberglass insulation—Fiberglass is very irritating and often causes mouth irritation when chewed on. If a large amount of insulation is ingested, an intestinal obstruction can occur.

Project by-products—Leftover materials from your home repair projects, such as sawdust or drywall pieces, can cause stomach upset and possibly intestinal obstruction if enough is ingested. Make sure to sweep up after any work is done! 

Power tools and electrical cords—Curious dogs and cats may hear the whir of a drill or the buzz of a saw, go to investigate and get too close to dangerous moving parts so keep your pets away when you are using power tools. Chewing on cords can also cause electrical burns to the mouth and other cardiovascular problems associated with electrocution. 

To prevent injuries or intoxications, be sure to keep any and all of these products away from curious paws and snooping noses. Good luck with those home improvements!  

If your pet has been exposed to or ingested any hazardous items, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.