Pet owners quickly learn to become vigilant about seemingly innocuous things that could prove harmful to their cats and dogs. Human treats like chocolate or caffeine are notoriously bad for a pet's stomach; walking hazards like lawn chemicals, standing water, and gum can all prompt a visit to the vet.
You might not realize another common threat is lurking in laundry baskets, where cats sometimes like to relax. According to the Spruce, dryer sheets used to reduce static cling can harm a pet’s health.
The sheets are infused with chemicals activated by the heat of a dryer. Benzyl acetate, camphor, and chloroform are often present, and all of them can present problems for pets who either come in contact with the sheets or ingest them. Symptoms can be local, like skin irritation, or systemic, including pulmonary edema and kidney issues. The tough fabric of the sheet itself also poses a problem, because it won’t break down in an animal’s digestive tract. Surgery is sometimes needed to remove blockages caused by these types of materials.
Not every pet is going to show an interest in nibbling on a dryer sheet, but it’s still a good idea to keep them stored safely away, especially if your pet hangs out in your laundry area. It’s also inadvisable to groom pets by picking up errant fur with the sheets, which is sometimes recommended online. The chemicals can be left on fur, which pets can then ingest by licking.
The same cautions hold for fabric softeners, which contain corrosive detergents that can damage mucus membranes. The best advice is to keep all chemicals out of the reach of your pets and make sure your laundry room is safe from prying paws.
[h/t The Spruce]