March is Pet Poison Awareness Month!
While many pet owners are aware that many common foods such as grapes; raisins; onions and related plants such as chives, shallots, and garlic; Macadamia nuts; chocolate, sugar-free gum or other foods containing the sweeter xylitol are toxic to pets, there are other common household products that are also poisonous to our four-legged family members.
While food is a major concern, over-the-counter medication (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen), herbal supplements, antihistamines, cold and flu medication, and human prescriptions (deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications, antidepressants, and heart medications) are also worrisome. In the case of OTC medications and human prescriptions, pet ingestion is typically accidental. Pet owners leave medication out for curious pets to find. Or, pet parents knowingly or unknowingly drop medications, fail to pick them up and pets find them and consume them.
Or, in some cases, pet owners leave the prescription medication on bedside tables. Since more and more pets sleep with their owners in the bed or sleep in their bedrooms, dog and cats have easier access to medication on bedside tables.
Misread labels are another reason pets and their owners run into trouble, especially with veterinary products. Make sure to read all medication labels and follow dispensing information to avoid mishaps.
Seasonal concerns also contribute to pet poisoning. In the Spring, Dr. Tina Wismer of the ASPCA Poison Control Center notes that pet owners engaging in seasonal cleaning campaigns and yard rejuvenation must be careful when buying and storing products. She says, “prior to buying cleaning as well as lawn and garden products make sure to read the label to ensure that products are safe around kids and pets.”
Plant selection is also key at this time of the year as plants such as tulips, daffodils, and sago palms are among the most hazardous houseplants and flowers for dogs. Lillies are extremely dangerous for cats, due to the fact that they can cause renal failure.
Wismer advises "Before buying plants, check with the ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List. "
Furthermore, consumption of common other household lawn and garden products such as fertilizer and rodenticides can also lead to large veterinary bills or even death.
As a result, Wismer reminds us to always lock cabinets or storage sheds where chemicals are stored to prevent pet access and ingestion.
Animals that have been poisoned may act abnormally or show minor symptoms which may include the following:
- Vomiting or diarrhea, especially if there is blood involved.
- Drooling excessively
- Lethargy or agitation
- Pale gums
- Tremors or a seizure
For quick access to sources of information about hazardous chemicals, having the telephone number of the local poison control centers and veterinary emergency clinics nearby is essential. Pet owners can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. The center charges $75 per case and can take payment from a debit or credit card. A case number will be assigned and a pet owner and/or their veterinarian can access that case as much as need be.
If your pet is poisoned, (s)he will receive therapy determined by exposure to the specific poisons. While vomiting induction is necessary, IV fluid treatment and oral, charcoal therapy are also recommended.
By being aware of common household poisons, pet owners can avoid pet pain, discomfort, and possible death, along with avoiding costly vet bills.