I-TEAM: Yes, even your pets are being poisoned from too much COVID-19 cleaning

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Friday, May 15, 2020
News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

Georgia's Poison Center is seeing a serious increase in calls due to pets getting sick. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Working from home and staying at home doesn’t feel as isolating with man’s best friend by our side. Pet adoptions have soared during the pandemic, but so has the number of calls to the pet poison helpline.

We told you earlier this week about an increase in poisoning calls during the pandemic as people mixing household cleaning agents are getting sick at higher numbers. We looked further into the data and some of us are also accidentally poisoning our pets.

Someone once said our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet. Our furry friends have given us companionship at a time when we’ve needed it the most. They have stayed by our side while we work, teach, eat, and even clean.

“We have seen an increase in the number of pet poisoning over the last couple months,” Georgia Poison Center Director Gaylord Lopez said.

Lopez says pets are getting sick at an alarming rate during the pandemic. How alarming? We found a more than 100 percent increase in calls to the pet poison hotline. The calls are all regarding pet exposure to household cleaning products.

“And then animals are licking up bleach and Pine-Sol and getting sick,” Lopez said.

Just take a look at the shelves at the store, and it should be no surprise more of us are using products that will kill the virus. But the products can also just as easily sicken or even kill dogs and cats.

Animal Poison Control Center lists bleach as one of the most poisonous household products for pets. Even the Clorox wipes pet parents like to use can be lethal to our furry friends.

“Parents are using, for example, disinfectant wipes -- they may not be making it into the trash can and the disinfectant wipe may be on the floor. It’s easy for a child, even a pet, to get a hold of them,” Lopez said.

Lopez says products containing alcohol are also to blame for the sudden surge in pet poisonings.

“We have had pets get into hand sanitizer,” Lopez said. “You use the hand sanitizer, you leave it out. This is a product that has 70 to 90 percent alcohol.”

Pet Poison Helpline also warns anything containing the word phenol can sicken pets. Phenol is everything from toilet bowl cleaners to all-purpose screening sprays.

“The same kind of poisoning events that can happen with our children can happen with our pets,” Lopez said.

We need to protect our family from all kinds of sicknesses, not just COVID-19.

How do you protect your pets while you are disinfecting your home? Keep your pet in another room or outside while you are cleaning. Let all surfaces and floors dry before letting your furry friend back in. Put up all cleaning supplies and dirty sponges after you finish, too. Finally, call your vet or the pet poison helpline right away if you think your pet may have been poisoned.

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