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National Poison Prevention Week


“What do you have in your mouth now?!” Ever felt you've said that to your pet at least three times a day? One of those times a pet may have something that can cause them harm. Since 1961, the third week of March has been proclaimed as National Poison Prevention week and has aimed to spread knowledge of harmful contaminates that can affect both humans and four legged family members. Pet Poison Helpline, a great resource for frantic pet parents, suggests protecting pets by poison-proofing your home, room by room.

Starting in the living room, take a look at plants if there are any end tables, since lilies, azalea’s, daffodils, lily of the valley and others are poisonous. All it takes is one or two petals. Home fragrances, like liquid potpourri can burn pet’s skin and be toxic if a pet decides it tastes good. Spray aerosols or any heavily fragranced products should not be sprayed around bird cages, as they are especially sensitive to airborne products. Ashtrays, cigarettes, nicotine chewing gum or patches should be kept out of reach, even cigarette butts contain enough nicotine to poison a pet. Batteries can cause chemical burns to pet paws, so they need to be kept out of their reach.

In the kitchen is a whole other host of pet poisons. Human foods that are toxic to pets include raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, unbaked yeast bread dough, fatty foods and chocolate. Other foods that are poisonous are caffeine, alcohol, table salt and xylitol (sugar-free chewing gum). Garbage cans should have a tight top lid so that curious pets do not go digging through the garbage which can contain cigarette butts, coffee grounds, moldy foods and bones.

In the bathroom, over-the-counter prescription pills, inhalers and dietary supplements should not be accessible to pets and instead put in a medicine cabinet or cupboard. Pets can easily get onto countertops or tables and chew through plastic bags to get to the medications. Also, never give medicine to a pet without first checking with a vet. Both acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) are extremely poisonous to pets. While cleaning a bathroom, keep pets away and make sure to close the toilet seat to keep them from drinking the water.  

In a utility room, rodenticides should be kept separate from pets. Despite trying to get rid of these pests, rodents may actually transfer the products to locations accessible to the pet. Consulting a vet on the best products to use would avoid this problem. Insecticide instructions should be read thoroughly. Pet parents may also not be aware that flea and tick products meant for dogs should not be used on cats, as they may cause tremors and seizures. Glue can also be poisonous to pets, and certain glues like Gorilla Glue can expand to the size of a basketball when ingested.  

While pet parents can’t keep their pets from getting into everything, being knowledgeable on how to best protect a pet is the best defense. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center free mobile app provides much more information. With a few swipes, pet parents can gather information on toxic substances to pets, quick selection menus, and access to images detailing side effects and actions to take for each specific toxin. The app also offers a 24/7/365 hotline number, with access to specially trained veterinary staff and toxicologists. If a pet parent believes their pet has eaten something harmful, don’t wait! Contact a trusted veterinarian, use the ASPCA app, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.