National Poison Prevention Week For Pets

poison-prev-1Did you know that the third week of March is designated National Poison Prevention Week?  The Pet Poison Helpline wants everyone to remember the four-legged members of your family.  About 90% of the calls to the helpline involve dogs because they tend to be more curious, unpredictable, and indifferent to eating just about anything.

Many products that are kept around your house can be toxic to your pet, so it is important to keep the Pet Poison Helpline number to contact if needed.  That number is 1-800-213-6680.  If an emergency occurs, they are available to help and assist the frantic owner.

As with almost everything else, prevention is best, so here are some pointers to help prevent poisoning.  By taking note, this can reduce the exposure to poisons.

  • Never give your pet any medications unless specifically instructed to do so by your veterinarian.  Tylenol is a common medication to help relieve your headache, but it can be deadly to your pet.  As little as one 500mg tablet can kill a cat.
  • If you use flea control, always read the label directions for proper application. Never put a flea control product on your cat that is for a dog or vice versa. Permethrin is a product in flea controls that is extremely toxic to cats.  As a matter of fact, a few drops can potentially be life-threatening.
  • Be aware of some houseplants.  They may be pretty,  but they can also be toxic to eat or chew on.  This is not a problem in human adults, but pets and children love to explore, chew and taste.  Plants like oleander, rhododendrom, azaela and yews can affect the heart and be cardiotoxic.  Rhubarb can cause kidney damage and some mushrooms can cause liver damage.
  • While essential to a car’s cooling system, antifreeze can be fatal to cats and dogs. It is sweet-tasting and as little as one lick can be deadly.  It is important to sweep up all spills and keep it locked away from pets.  It may be more expensive, but a safe antifreeze alternative could prevent accidental exposure.
  • If you apply weed killer or insecticide to your lawn or fertilize your plants or garden, remember to follow label directions for proper applications and do not allow pets access to these areas until the amount of time listed on the label by the manufacturer has passed ant the product has dried thoroughly.  Your pet could become exposed by licking its’ paws after walking through treated areas when wet or before access should be allowed.
  • Alway store lawn and garden products in areas that are inaccessible to animals such as locked storage sheds or garages.  These products can include rodenticides, slug and snail baits, paint, oil and gasoline that are potentially dangerous chemicals to name a few.  Rat poisons are a bait to attract the rodent, and this works on rodents as well as pets.  Even if it is hidden or seemingly out of your pet’s reach, determined pets may be creative to reach the bait.  Also, rodents that have died from the poison and are ingested by pets pose a risk.
  • Meat and food scraps mixed with discarded household cleaner containers and other trash are a recipe for disaster on many levels!  Even “good pets” who usually don’t get into garbage may get an inclination due to what they smell or if they are bored and hungry.  It is important to protect your pets from getting into the trash by securing all your garbage cans with tamper-proof lids.  For extra protection, you may want to keep them safely out of reach in the cupboard or shed.
  • If you are unsure about proper usage of any product, please call the manufacturer and/or your veterinarian for instructions.  It is also helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide or Syrup of Ipecac on hand to induce vomiting if instructed by your veterinarian.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a potentially poisonous substance, immediately call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline.  Again their number is 1-800-213-6680.  In most instances, early detection and prompt treatment may help reduce the risk of developing clinical signs or increase the chances of a successful recovery if signs are present.  It will help to note what you think your pet has eaten, when he ingested the substance in question and any problems he is experiencing.