March is the month when many of us start getting outside more; cleaning out our homes and garages, working in the garden, and hosting more get-togethers as the weather improves. March is also Poison Prevention Awareness Month, and the timing is perfect as many spring activities expose us (and our pets) to new dangers.
Want to keep your pet safe? Here are five common sources of dog and cat poisoning, and how you can protect your pet from each one.
Poison Prevention: Dangers Inside Your Home
Pills: One of the most common forms of poisoning danger for pets is pills meant for humans, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins and supplements. Common drugs containing acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and NSAIDs (Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin) can cause serious harm to dogs if eaten, with only one pill being enough to be dangerous to a small dog. Many human supplements and vitamins such as Vitamins C, K, and E are fairly safe for pets, but other common supplements like iron and Vitamin D can be highly toxic to your pet. Keep your medications and any other pills in a locked cabinet or closet.
Food: A frequent source of pet poisoning is the consumption of foods that are safe for humans, but dangerous for dogs and cats. The most common problem is probably chocolate. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous type of chocolate since it contains a large amount of theobromine, a chemical similar to caffeine that can be deadly to dogs and cats. Raisins and grapes may seem harmless and natural, but they can cause kidney failure. Other human foods toxic to pets include macadamia nuts, garlic, onions, and event yeast-based dough, as it can expand in the stomach and damage your pet’s digestive system. One food ingredient to watch out for is Xylitol, a sweetener commonly found in sugarless gums and candies. It is very dangerous, and can be life-threatening even in very small amounts. Make sure that you keep all human food out of your pet’s reach, and pay special attention at holidays or parties when dangerous food might be in unusual places like a present under the tree or an easter basket on the floor.
Poison Prevention: Dangers Outside of Your Home
Pesticides: Chemicals used to kill insects or rodents such as sprays, granules, and insect bait stations can be deadly to your dog or cat. Poisoning from these products can cause severe problems, including uncontrolled bleeding, swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and seizures. Keep these products out of your pets’ reach, and also be aware of the potential for relay toxicity: This occurs when dogs or cats are poisoned by eating dead rats or mice that were killed by rodenticides. Teaching your dog the “drop it” command could save their life!
Automotive Fluids: Make sure that products for your vehicles like gasoline, oil, and antifreeze are stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets, and clean up any spills thoroughly. Only one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than one tablespoon can be deadly to a 20 pound dog.
Plants: Take inventory of the the plants you have in your home and yard. The ingestion of many common plants, such as azalea, oleander, cyclamen, lily of the valley, castor bean, sago palm, Easter lilies, and tulip bulbs can be at best irritating and at worst toxic to your dog or cat.
Where To Get Help
One of the most important (and easiest) ways to keep your pet safe is to make sure that you have the phone numbers for both your veterinarian and the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center accessible. If your pet ingests something dangerous, being able to quickly contact expert help is essential.