Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month
by Heather Carter
March 09, 2022
March is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month! You may think it is easy to keep hazardous or poisonous substances away from our pets, but accidental spills, dropped medications, or even flowers and decorations can cause disastrous outcomes when consumed by our furry friends.
With many common household items toxic to pets, it is important that pet parents (and anyone that cares for pets) educate themselves to ensure they keep unsafe items out of paw’s reach! Here is a quick reference guide of items that should always be kept safely tucked away from our pets.
Common Household Toxins:
Over-The-Counter/ Prescription Medications- These make up almost 40% of reported incidents through the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).
Foods- Especially grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, and cherries should be avoided but caution should be given to all foods given to our pets.
Chocolate- Contains caffeine and a chemical called theobromine, which dogs cannot metabolize. (The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is).
Xylitol- Sweetener found in sugar-free and other foods, including some peanut butters.
Rodenticides- Either in their pure form or from eating a poisoned rodent.
Fertilizers- Many are basic gastrointestinal irritants. Some are often combined with dangerous chemicals and compounds which can be harmful or deadly to pets.
Cleaners and Chemicals- Including bathroom, kitchen, window, car cleaners, antifreeze, paint thinner, pool/hot tub products, etc.
Flowers & Plants- Lilies, Aloe Vera, Ivy, Jade, Dumb Cane, Elephant Ear, Pothos, ZZ Plant, Asparagus Fern, and Sowbread can all be poisonous to our pets but always check when introducing any new plants or flowers into your household. (Visit aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/horse-plant-list for a list of toxic and non-toxic plants for horses).
Mushrooms & Berries- Many are non-toxic, but those that are not can be very harmful, so it is better to assume the worst and avoid them as much as possible.
Signs & Symptoms
It is also especially important to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of poisoning in your furry friends. Poisoned pets may display mild to severe symptoms, depending on the amount they ingest. Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice:
- Vomiting or diarrhea, particularly with blood present
- Weight loss
- Excessive drooling
- Breathing difficulties
- Lack of appetite
- Lethargy or restlessness
- Pale gums
- Seizure or tremors
- Out of character behaviors
Symptoms might not appear immediately or may develop rapidly. We recommend that all pet parents keep these poison control numbers handy – ideally programmed into your phone. Hopefully, you will never need them, but if you do, you will be glad you got them!
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center- Call (888) 426-4435 with any pet related emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Pet Poison Help line- (855) 764-7661. The most cost-effective animal poison control center in North America, including unlimited follow-up consultations.
If your pet eats something poisonous, you will need to act fast. The smaller the pet, the less toxin it takes to cause serious illness or even death. It is essential to try to identify what your pet has ingested. Call your primary care veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline promptly. Tell them what your pet ate, how much and when, and what their symptoms are so they can form the best treatment plan. If your pet needs urgent care, bring them to an after-hours or 24/7 animal emergency hospital as soon as possible!
It can happen to even the best pet owners—you turn around for one moment (or accidentally leave medication or chocolate on the counter) and your pet ingests a potentially harmful or fatal pet poison. Knowing how to stay calm and get your pets help in a timely fashion can make all the difference!