National Poison Prevention Week, which is March 20 to 26 this year, was established by Congress in 1961 to promote poison prevention in homes across America. This includes our pets as well.
In fact, the ASPCA®’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) fielded 167,000 phone calls about pets exposed to poisonous substances in 2010. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help keep your pets safe.
Common Poison Dangers
You may be aware of some poison dangers around your house, but some might come as a surprise. For instance, did you know that dryer sheets can harm your pets? They can contain detergents that cause gastrointestinal irritation, especially in cats.
Here are five other pet poison problems that could be lurking in your home. You should also ask your veterinarian for more advice about your particular pets.
1. People Pills
Prescription medications and over-the-counter painkillers, cold medications, and dietary supplements can be harmful to pets. Keep them out of paw’s reach in cabinets or high up on shelves. Pets can grab them off low nightstands or counters. Also, pick up dropped pills before your pets can gobble them up. And never give your pets any kind of medication without speaking to your veterinarian first.
2. Dangerous Dining
There are certain foods you should be wary of when it comes to your furry friends. Chocolate, grapes, raisins, avocado, and gum or candy containing xylitol can all be dangerous to pets. Why is chocolate so dangerous? It contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which can cause problems from vomiting to seizures. Other problematic foods include coffee, macadamia nuts, onions, salt, yeast dough, and garlic.
3. Perilous Plants
Plants that can harm your pets include lilies, azaleas, and rhododendrons. Lilies are very poisonous to cats, and can result in kidney failure even from a small nibble. Poinsettias can also be problematic, but they’re not as dangerous as you might think. They typically cause mild to severe tummy upset if eaten. Check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants to see if your plants are safe, and find some good green choices for your home.
4. Cleaning Supplies
Household cleaners like bleach, detergents, and disinfectants can be irritating and even toxic to pets. They can cause tummy troubles, eye or skin irritation, or difficulty breathing if inhaled or ingested by your dogs or cats. Take precautions when using these products. For instance, put your pets in another room while you mop, dust, and scrub. And, of course, keep cleaning supplies in a safe place.
5. Bad Chemistry
Pet poisoning incidents involving chemicals, like those found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinners, drain cleaners, and pool or spa treatments are on the rise. These substances can cause stomach upset, depression, breathing problems, and chemical burns. Don’t let your pets near chemicals when you’re using them, and store them securely. Also, clean spills right away so your pets can’t lap them up.
Animal Poison Control Center
If you think one of your pets has been exposed to poison, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) can help. The APCC is staffed with specially trained veterinary toxicologists available around the clock. They have experience with more than 1 million cases and access to an extensive database to diagnose problems quickly and offer treatment advice.
Keep the APCC hotline—1-888-426-4435—in a prominent location. A $65 consulting fee may apply, but 80% of this charge is covered by ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. If you have any questions about your coverage, you can view your plan at the Member Center or call us at 1-866-204-6764.