Watch out for household items that could be poisonous to your pet

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Many people may not be aware of the dangers in their own homes that could result in poisoning of their pets, veterinarians and poison control experts say.

Poisoning can be a life-threatening situation and can be caused by foods that are otherwise safe for human consumption.

While many people know about the potential dangers of chocolate to dogs, Sarah Machniak, a veterinary technician at Red Cedar Animal Hospital in Okemos, said many other foods can also cause poisoning in dogs, including grapes, raisins, avocados, onions, garlic, salt, tea leaves, coffee, alcoholic beverages, raw yeast dough, spoiled foods, and fatty foods.

The artificial sweetener xylitol can also be dangerous for dogs, said veterinarian Missy Crandall from Abbot Road Animal Hospital in East Lansing.

“It’s a sweetener that is used for cooking and people don’t realize it’s toxic,” said Crandall, who has 20 years experience as a veterinarian.

Crandall also warned against feeding any kind of pork to dogs as it could result in your animal becoming very sick.

If your pet is a cat, you should avoid keeping any lilies, which are the No. 1 poison for cats, in your house according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Household cleaners should also be stored away from them and watch out for flea and tick medications that you may use on your dog.

Machniak and Crandall said pet owners should call a vet or a poison control hotline if they suspect a pet has been poisoned. Veterinarians and poison control experts can help owners immediately respond to the threat of poisoning.

Crandall said the first thing you should do is call a vet, but if they are not available, then the Veterinary Medical Center at Michigan State is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

The Pet Poison Helpline is a 24/7 animal poison control center serving in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Each call costs $59. The organization has a variety of free resources on its website, www.petpoisonhelpline.com, including the top 10 cat and dog poisons, and the top 10 toxins that could be in your kitchen.

The organization also has a list of foods that are safe to feed pets as well as information about healthy diets.