March is Poison Prevention month. There are many hazards around your home and yard that can have dangerous, and sometimes fatal, consequences, but there is a lot you can do to protect your pet from ingesting something harmful.
One of the most common hazards indoor pets face is human medications. Last year, the ASPCA received over 45,000 calls from pet owners involving over-the-counter and prescription drugs accidentally ingested by their pets. Animals are curious by nature, and a pill bottle or medicine tube left on a countertop or bed stand makes for an easy “snatch.” Common medications that can be potentially fatal to pets (even in small doses) are:
- Pain killers
- Cold medicines
- Diet Pills
Another common form of accidental poisoning is from the misuse of flea and tick products. Applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species, like applying dog flea control to a cat, can cause serious and even fatal consequences.
It may be surprising, but there are even certain kinds of people food can have an adverse affect on your animal’s health. Pay attention when in the kitchen, and be sure to pick up anything that falls on the floor right away to keep your four-legged “Hoovers” safe. Even small amounts of some foods can cause toxicity. For example, a half ounce, or less, of baking chocolate per pound of body weight can make your pet very sick. Some potentially dangerous foods to keep away from your pet are:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Coffee (all forms)
- Macadamia nuts
- Moldy or spoiled foods
- Onions, onion powder
- Raisins and grapes
- Yeast dough
- Products sweetened with xylitol (like sugar-free gum or candy)
With spring in the air there are a lot of plants beginning to bloom, and your pet spending more time outdoors. Unfortunately some of those plants and flowers But some can be potentially life-threatening to pets. Azalea, oleander, yew plant, rhododendron, sago palm, kalanchoe and schefflera are plants commonly kept in or around homes and can be potentially fatal to pets. Lilies are especially dangerous for cats.
Pet-proofing is much like child-proofing, and you should protect your pet from the dangers in your home in the same way you might protect a toddler. Always keep your medications in a safe place that is not easily accessible to pets. Never leave dangerous foods like chocolate, raisins, etc. out where a pet can get to them. Guard your coffee, keep electrical cords tucked behind furniture and out of the line of site (for those of you who have chewers), and remove plants that can be potentially harmful to your pet.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435, immediately. Remember, our pets rely on us to keep them safe so we can enjoy their companionship for years to come.