5 Things You Might Be Doing That Can Harm Your Pet

Of course you would never deliberately hurt your beloved pet, but what if there were things you were doing — perhaps even every day — that were harming your furry friend?

We're putting safety first and taking a look at five human habits that adversely affect pets. Some are obvious, like secondhand smoke, but others are more hidden dangers, like feeding your dog a certain type of peanut butter. Take a look at the photo gallery below to make sure you're not doing any of these things.

Habits That Endanger Your Pets

Things That Harm Pets Secondhand Smoke

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1. Smoking around them.

Veterinary oncologist Dr. Ann Hohenhaus has shared the sobering truth of what can happen to our beloved pets when we expose them to secondhand smoke. In dogs, exposure to environmental tobacco has been shown to increase rates of nasal cancer, allergic skin disease and heart disease; in cats, the consequences include a higher risk of lymphoma and oral cancer.

Things That Harm Pets Products With Xylitol

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2. Feeding them food sweetened with xylitol.

We bet you're aware of the dangers of giving dogs certain toxic foods like chocolate, macadamia nuts and grapes, but there's one lesser-known poison you should watch out for: xylitol. This sugar substitute is becoming increasingly popular and is used to sweeten sugar-free food products like candy, gum, mints, yogurt, baked goods and even peanut butter. Ingesting xylitol can cause liver damage and a potentially deadly drop in blood sugar in dogs.

Things That Harm Pets Giving Human Medications

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3. Giving them human medication without consulting your vet.

While it might be tempting to "treat" your pet's ailment with something from your own medicine cabinet, it's never a good idea. Unless you've been instructed to do so by your veterinarian, don't give animals any medications that are meant for humans. No matter what Dr. Google says, giving your pet one of your own pills — or even part of it — can do much more harm than good.

Things That Harm Pets Creams and Lotions

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4. Letting them lick lotions and creams.

It's common and seemingly innocuous for our dogs to want to lick our hands after we apply lotion. But veterinary toxicologist Dr. Tina Wismer explains that a number of lotions and creams — even over-the-counter products — can poison our pets. That list includes (but isn't limited to) hydrocortisone-based creams, antifungal creams, calamine lotion and muscle rubs. Play it safe and help prevent an emergency by not letting your pet lick your skin after you've applied lotions or creams.

Things That Harm Pets Cleaning Products

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5. Using cleaning products that are toxic to pets.

While we're on the topic of common household toxins, double check that you're not using any cleaning products that can harm your pet. Even natural solutions should be used carefully — for example, baking soda can cause stomach upset and other problems if ingested. Your veterinarian can advise you on which products are and aren't safe to use in your animal's environment. And this doesn't just go for cats and dogs — think about birds and other exotic pets too!

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