This week is about raising awareness for National Poison Prevention Week. Pet poisonings can come in a variety of forms. Sometimes you see your pet ingest or become exposed to a substance, but sometimes you do not even realize a poisoning has occurred until symptoms develop. So how do you keep your pet safe from poison exposure?
The list of items that are toxic to pets is vast. A glance at the ASPCA Poison Control Center and the Pet Poison Helpline websites will quickly show you a whole slew of items. While memorizing all of these items will certainly earn you a star on your pet owner badge of honor, memorization of every toxic substance is not at all required. Sure, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the items, but more importantly – familiarize yourself with where to go to find what you need, when you need it (e.g., call us or an after hours emergency clinic, or use the poison resource websites listed above).
In some ways you can think of your pet as a small child. Make your house, garage, and yard (and wherever else your pet spends time) “pet proof” just like you would “child proof” your house. This means keeping any potentially harmful substances out of reach. If you are buying a plant, using a cleaner, treating your yard, etc. – read the labels and understand whether these items can be harmful to animals.
In some ways though, you actually cannot view your pet as a small child. Just because something is safe for a human to ingest, it does not always mean a pet can ingest the same substance. Take the case of a dog that got into the owner’s purse and chewed some chewing gum. You might be thinking to yourself “What’s the harm?” But if this gum has been sweetened with Xylitol, it can quickly cause symptoms of hypoglycemia, or even cause liver failure or death.
So use this week to educate yourself about how to prevent poisoning in your pet. Follow us on Facebook, explore our website resources on poison prevention, talk with our staff, and explore other key resources (ASPCA Poison Control Center, Pet Poison Helpline). Then, evaluate your unique situation and decide if you need to take some additional steps to prevent poisoning in your pet.
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS