DIY dangers and pet safety

Posted on: 28 April 2015 by 50connect editorial

If you are planning DIY project for the May Bank Holiday weekend be aware of the dangers it might pose to your pets.

DIY dangers for pets

With the Bank Holiday weekend and warmer weather, many of you may be embarking on some early summer “DIY” projects, but if you are a pet owner some helpful hints to keep their pets safe from the hazards that common home improvement materials can pose.


Most water-based latex paints are relatively low in toxicity, but could still produce gastrointestinal upset. Artist’s paints or other speciality paints could contain heavy metals that couldd potentially be harmful if large enough amounts are ingested. Should your pet get paint on its skin or hair coat, never use paint thinner or similar solvents to remove it - a chemical burn could result. Instead, a mild pet shampoo or liquid hand dishwashing detergent can be used to bathe the skin and fur. If the exposure to the hair coat is extensive, clipping or shaving by a local vet may be required.

Adhesives and glues

Depending on the type of adhesive involved, a variety of clinical effects are possible following ingestion. Certain construction glues may produce only mild gastrointestinal upset, while others can cause more significant irritation. Additionally, some expanding glue products can result in a potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction if ingested.


Paint thinners, mineral spirits and other solvents can result in severe irritation or chemical burns to the skin and mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth and gastrointestinal tract. In addition, ingestion could produce central nervous system depression, and inhalation of these substances could lead to aspiration pneumonia.


Some older homes may possibly contain surfaces that have been painted with lead-based paints. The sale of lead paint was prohibited only in the late 1980s. Lead exposure can occur from eating paint chips or by inhaling paint dust from sanded or scraped surfaces. As lead paint is removed during renovation, deteriorates, peels, or is pulverised because of friction for instance in window sills, house dust and soil may become contaminated. Lead then enters the body through normal activity. Other potential sources of lead can include drapery weights, plumbing parts like water pipes, putty, rug pads, linoleum and lead glazed pottery or crystal. Lead exposures can produce gastrointestinal, behavioural or neurological effects, as well as clinical symptoms from anaemia. 


Mould can be found in many parts of the home, including under carpeting, behind walls, or in heating and cooling ducts. Certain species of mould can produce mycotoxins, which can produce gastrointestinal, cardiac or neurological effects such as tremors and seizures. While most problematic mould exposures in pets involve the ingestion of spoiled foods, if mould is discovered in the home pet owners should obtain information on mould hazards, including safe cleaning and removal in order to avoid the potential for problems. 

Physical hazards

Pets could be at risk from a wide variety of physical hazards in homes that are being renovated, including nails, tacks, staples, screws, insulation, electrical cords on power tools, and many others. Ingestion of nails and other small hardware fasteners can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract and could result in an obstruction as well. Pets chewing on plugged in electrical cords could become electrocuted and suffer electrical burns to the mouth.

Keeping pets safe 

As prevention is the key to avoiding problems from accidental exposures, animal owners should keep pets completely out of areas where renovation or other home improvement projects are occurring, and should always read and follow label directions for safe use and storage. In certain situations, it may be advisable to board pets in a kennel or day care facility to eliminate the potential for exposure to hazardous substances. If an accidental exposure should occur, owners should seek veterinary assistance promptly by calling their local vet. Additionally, owners should have the product container or packaging available for reference, as critical ingredient information or instructions on how to manage accidental exposures may be on the label.

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