A grieving pet owner is worried the recent death of her dog is linked to a popular household cleaner. But the company that makes that cleaner--and a leading veterinary toxicologist--told ConsumerAffairs.com that it's unlikely the two are connected.
Dog owner Rachel G. says her healthy five-year-old Miniature Pomeranian, Foxy, suddenly died in July. "I was devastated," says the Jacksonville, North Carolina, woman. "She was in good health."
Rachel says Foxy's health problems started after she cleaned her linoleum floors with some Swiffer Sweeper Wet Cloths. She didn't initially connect her dog's illness to the floor cleaner, however.
"I cleaned the floors with the wet cloths and Foxy got sick the next morning," Rachel recalls. "She had gotten into the trash and I thought that's what made her sick. But she got better and I used the Swiffer cloths a few days later."
A short time later, Foxy became gravely ill.
"I got into the shower, came out, and Foxy was dead," Rachel says. "I had only used that product twice in my house. I used it a second time, not knowing anything was wrong, and my dog died 15 minutes later."
Rachel rushed Foxy to her veterinarian's office and learned some shocking news.
"They asked me what happened and I told them I didn't know. Then they asked me if I had a Swiffer. They said this product is sweet to animals and attracts them to lick the floors or their paws after they walk on the wet floors. They said there is a toxic ingredient in the product that can cause animals' deaths."
Rachel regrets buying the floor cleaner. "My dog, who was my baby, died for no good reason."
Pictures of Foxy, Rachel's deceased Pomeranian.
ConsumerAffairs.com contacted Rachel's veterinarian, Dr. Dave Altman of Jacksonville, North Carolina. He did not return our call.
We also contacted Dr. Steven Hansen, a veterinary toxicologist who runs the Animal Poison Control Center for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). "This case is highly unlikely related to a floor cleaner," he told us. "We are not aware of any such documented cases."
ConsumerAffairs.com also called Procter & Gamble, which makes the Swiffer Sweeper Wet Cloths. Spokesman Jay Benton said he'd never heard of any problems with this product. "This is actually the first time I've heard this story associated with the wet cloths."
Benton, however, said false rumors have circulated about pet illnesses and deaths linked to the Swiffer Wet Jet products. According to those rumors, those products may contain ingredients that are toxin to children and pets.
"The truth is, all Swiffer products are safe to use around children and pets when used according to directionsa fact confirmed by independent scientists, veterinarians, and the ASPCA," the company said.
ConsumerAffairs.com learned the ASPCA investigated the rumors and confirmed the allegations were unfounded.
Veterinarians with the organization said the ingredients in the Swiffer Wet Jet cleaner -- water (90-100%), propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether, and isopropyl alcohol (1-4%) -- did not pose a health risk to pets.
"These ingredients are safe to use around pets when used according to label directions and would not cause liver damage at product concentrations," ASPCA wrote shortly after the rumors surfaced a few years ago.
Nonetheless, Benton said he would forward Rachel's concerns to the company's research and development team. "Thanks for bringing this to our attention," he said.
Back in North Carolina, Rachel still wants to warn other pet owners about this potential health risk. "I don't want this to happen to anyone else," she says. "I was devastated when this happened and did not think I was doing anything wrong."
She added: "The only warning they (Swiffer) have on the label is to keep out of reach of children and pets in case of accidental ingestion, just the same as any other household product you may buy. They need to have a warning that is more effective in educating consumers."
To learn more about household products that are potentially dangerous to pets, consumers can contact the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or visit its Web site at www.aspca.org/apcc.