March is Pet Poison Prevention month!
Across the country, pet professionals, lovers and parents are doing their part to raise awareness and help save lives through education. Poisonings can be easily prevented with the correct steps taken. The first step is knowing which items in your house are harmful to your cats and dogs. We have the most common poisons pets were treated for at vet offices across the country in 2016. You won’t believe how many are accessible to your furry friend right this second!
(Pssst! Click the image to the left for a printable version to hang on your fridge!)
#1: LILLIES and CHOCOLATE
Cats are highly susceptible to lily poisoning by ingesting the leaves of the plant or even drinking the water from the vase, which may cause kidney failure. Lilies are popular during spring and Easter to have as house plants. Visit this site for a list of flowers in the lily family and more information on lily poisoning in cats.
Chocolate came in as the most common poison to dogs. Dogs just can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to chocolate, and who can blame them? It takes a large amount of milk chocolate to reach toxic levels for a dog. However, dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate need only a small amount to induce vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, and rapid heartbeat.
NOTE: With Peter Cottontail making his way down the trail, be sure to keep all Easter in closed cabinet out of reach of your pets. Cats have been known to break in to the candy stash too, so keep their cunning tricks in mind when searching for a hiding place.
#2: INSECTICIDES, FERTILIZERS, RODENTICIDES
The most common insecticide poisoning among pets is, surprisingly, from topical flea and tick treatments. If not applied in the correct place or manner, pets may be able to ingest the medication or get too high of a dose. This can be fatal, especially in smaller dogs and cats. Always read the directions carefully or speak with your vet about proper application and other options such as flea collars or natural products.
REMEMBER: Insecticides should be stored safely and out of the reach of small hands and paws. Wasp and hornet sprays, bug killers for plants (including those used in or on your houseplants. We all know how cats love to snack on the houseplants!), ant traps and sprays, yard treatments, etc. Fertilizers and weed killer should also be put away safely and regularly checked for leaks.
#3: MEDICATIONS (YOURS AND THEIRS)
These include pain relievers/NSAIDS, anti-depressants, and Acetaminophen are strangely appetizing to our pets, especially SSRI medications for some unknown reason. All medications should be kept in their appropriate bottles or packaging and stored in a high cabinet.
This ALSO includes your pet’s medications! Pets are known to break in to those tasty chicken or beef flavored medications that are commonly prescribed. They may giving meds much easier, but sometimes our pets enjoy them a little too much! Remember to keep these somewhere they cannot find or access.
DON’T FORGET, LADIES: Birth control pills, pain relievers, allergy medications, and others are very commonly stored in purses. PICK UP YOUR PURSE! Hang it on a coat rack, in the closet, on the back of the door, or other place your dog or cat cannot access. Counters, tables, and door knobs are all easily accessible, feline or canine.
Used as a sugar substitute in many products such as chewing gum, tooth paste, mints, baked goods, and, most recently, peanut butter, Xylitol is highly poisonous and can be fatal to dogs. Be sure to check the label of the peanut butter purchased for your dog, or simply use organic peanut butter instead.
AGAIN: Remember to store purses and backpacks out of the reach of pets! These can easily be broken in to for snacks like chocolate, gum, candy bars, etc.
#5: HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS
Bleach, floor cleaner, laundry detergent and packets, window and oven cleaners are some of the most common household items that can poison our pets in the blink of an eye. When using any of these cleaners on surfaces where your pet walks or lies, take time to wipe down the surface with a clean, damp cloth. This will help to remove remaining residue that can find their way on to our pets’ paws and fur. When cleaning or grooming themselves later, our dog or cat then ingest the chemicals left behind by the cleaner. Look for natural or organic cleaning products that are safer for our pets and ourselves!
REMEMBER: Keep the doors shut to rooms you do not want your pet to have access to while you are away. Limiting the rooms your pet can investigate when he is unattended will keep him safe from accidental poisoning or injury, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements or garages. While puppies and kittens are known for their curiosity, adults are still capable of getting themselves into trouble by trying something new that might be a tasty treat. Just because he never has, doesn’t mean he never will!
Take a few moments to poison proof your home and keep your pets safe. For more information on pet poisons and what to do if your pet may be poisoned, visit PetPoisonHelpLine.com or call them 24/7 at 855-764-7661. The ASPCA Poison Control can be reached at 888-426-4435. (A fee may be charged for either hotline).