Sunday, March 6, 2016

PET POISON INFORMATION


Many items inside and outside our home can have potentially lethal consequences for our pets.  As responsible pet guardians, our duty is to insure that risks to the well-being of our beloved companions are minimized.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, in 2012 43% of all calls had to do with the animal ingesting human medications.  It is extremely important to keep all prescription and over-the-counter medications, even those in childproof bottles, out of harm’s way.  Closed cabinets, not easily accessed by prying paws, are the best for storage.  Drugs containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®), NSAIDs (e.g. Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin) and antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil, are examples that can be lethal, even in small quantities.  Pets can also incur Vitamin toxicity, especially with iron, Vitamin D, and alpha-lipoic acid.  Supervise anyone who may require assistance taking medications, in order to prevent pills from being dropped on the floor and easily accessed by pets.  As a last note, do not think it is cute to get your pet “stoned”.  Narcotics, including marijuana, can create a life-threatening risk to your pet.

Common household cleaning products can be equally dangerous.  The key to safety lies in following the directions for proper use and storage.  If the label warns, “keep pets and children away from area until dry”, follow the guidelines.  Products containing bleach can disinfect surfaces when used correctly, but can cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea or severe burns if swallowed, and respiratory tract irritation if inhaled.  In addition, skin contact with concentrated solutions can produce serious chemical burns.  Mothballs, potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, batteries, cigarettes, and hand and foot warmers are also potentially deadly to pets.

Automotive products such as gasoline, oil, and antifreeze should always be secured away from inquisitive mouths.  Antifreeze in any amount is lethal to dogs and cats.  If any is spilled, immediately clean it up.  While antifreeze products containing propylene glycol are less toxic than those containing ethylene glycol, they can still be quite hazardous to pets.  In addition to antifreeze, other substances typically stored in the garage include insecticides, fertilizers, and weed killers, which can threaten your pet’s health if ingested.  In fact, certain types such as organophosphates (like those found in rose-care products), can be life threatening when ingested in even small amounts.  When applying the agents outside, be sure to keep your pet away for the manufacturer’s recommended time.  If they are exposed to chemicals or granules that adhere to their body, they may lick it them, resulting in stomach upset or even more serious problems.

If a pet ingests rat poison, life-threatening illness can result.  When using any rodenticide, it is important to place the poison in areas completely inaccessible to pets.  Only one type of mouse poison (anticoagulant or blood thinner) has an antidote to counteract the effects of the poison.  The rest, unfortunately, have no antidote and are much more difficult to treat.  Remember, too, that a poisoned rodent carcass is a serious hazard, as well.

Certain foods can be potentially deadly to pets.  I recommend that you commit the following list to memory:  alcoholic drinks, avocados, chocolate, coffee grounds, any fatty foods, tea, macadamia nuts, moldy or spoiled foods, onions, garlic, raisins and grapes, salt, yeast-based  dough, and  any food product containing xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener.

Have fleas?  Always read the label first before using any flea-control product on or around your pet.  When these products are misused, vomiting or diarrhea can result.  Some of the more serious effects such as difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, and seizures can also occur.  Never use a dog flea-control formula on your cat, or vice versa.  There are multitudes of flea products for dogs that contain permethrin, which can be life threatening to cats.

They may be pretty, but many house and yard plants can be poisonous to your pets.  Some of the most common that should be kept away from pets include: certain types of lilies, Lily of the Valley, oleander, yew, foxglove, kalanchoe, sago palms, azaleas, rhododendrons, tulip/narcissus bulbs, castor bean,  cyclamen, amaryllis, chrysanthemums, pothos, English ivy, philodendron, corn plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, hibiscus, hydrangea, rhubarb leaves and certain varieties of mushrooms.

Additional information regarding poisonous substances can be located at the Pet Poison Helpline (http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/) and the ASPCA (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control).


Accidents will happen.  It is best to be prepared.  Keep your local veterinarian’s telephone number easily accessible, plus the following numbers for the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) and the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).   


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