National Poison Prevention Week falls on the third full week of March every year since 1962. The reason for proclaiming this week in the name of Poison Prevention is to raise awareness and to help minimize the number of casualties each year due to this avoidable tragedy. We are going to learn about the most common (and not so common) poisons our furry friends can get into. We will talk about how to prevent them. Finally, we will discuss what to do if our pets do get into any poisons.
According to Animal Poison Control, most poisonings occur at or near the pet’s home in the Spring or Summertime. The most common exposures are to rodenticides (rat poison), pharmaceuticals (prescription/OTC meds), and chocolate. But we shouldn’t limit ourselves to these potential toxins. There are plenty of other toxins that are not so common, and also happen in other times of the year.
There are certain plants that are toxic to cats and dogs as well, such as Daffodils, Peace Lilies, and Poinsettias. Let’s not forget Tulips, Azaleas, and Easter Lilies. Foods besides chocolates that are poisonous or toxic include raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, apple seeds, and coffee. Household cleaners and medications we commonly keep in our homes are also offenders. Marijuana and Nicotine can be toxic to pets too. With the trend towards e-cigarettes, or “vaping”, often the nicotine or CBD (THC) oil that you can buy for e-cigarettes is more concentrated and therefore more toxic. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and worried over every little thing our dog or cat eats off the floor. But there are actions we can take prevent ingestion, and in worst case scenarios, things you can do after ingestion happens. The number one thing you can do to prepare yourself and your pet for these situations is to become knowledgeable. Arming yourself with facts, such as a more complete list of potential toxins in your home, or yard, is number one. If you know what is potentially hazardous, you can take precautions to keep your furry friends away from them. If necessary, you can remove the item. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more power you have to prevent your pet from accidental toxicity. The ASPCA has links with more complete lists of toxic substances that you should familiarize yourself with: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control
In the event of exposure to potential toxins, your Veterinarian is your best friend. They will have knowledge of the risks and hazards of each toxin, and they will have the best advice on what you should do next. For instance, is there a difference if your 3 pound Chihuahua ate an ounce of milk chocolate? How about your 150-pound Great Dane? Should you induce vomiting after your pet ate something? How do you induce vomiting at home? These and more are all questions your pet’s Veterinarian is equipped to answer. Some signs and symptoms of poison exposure are excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, lethargy, loss of consciousness, excessive vocalization, or ataxia (“drunk walking”). If your pet is ever unconscious or lethargic, we advise bringing your pet directly to the Veterinarian and calling them on the way.
No pet owner wants to think these things might happen to their pet. But preparedness is key to prolonging the life of our furry friends. By taking a few simple precautions, we can enjoy our animal family members longer. And who doesn’t want that?!
Pet Poison Helpline: (888) 426 – 4435 (small fee may apply)