Tips and Tails for Pet Poison Prevention
March has been designated as Pet Poison Prevention Month. It was established to help raise awareness and prevent illness and injuries for pets. Truly, we should be focused on poison prevention all year long. Pets are very curious and with their smaller bodies and weights, just a small amount can be fatal for them.
Pets can become ill by ingesting or being exposed to many common household foods, products and plants. Here is a list of the top 3 most common toxins:
- Human medications, including dietary supplements and vitamins
Almost half of the calls to Pet Poison Helpline were pets that ate over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. Most of them were anti-depressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Effexor. The most common OTC drugs were acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS such as Advil, Aleve and Motrin). Vitamins C, K, and E are fairly safe; others such as iron, Vitamin D and alpha-lipoic acid can be highly toxic in overdose situations. Additionally, there is a risk of xylitol poisoning from sugar free multi-vitamins.
- Human foods
Many pets help themselves to foods that are safe for humans, but poisonous to them. Chocolate toxicity is the most common. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, comes next and is life-threatening in small amounts. Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in some dogs and other human foods toxic to dogs include macadamia nuts, garlic, onions, yeast-based dough and table salt.
Insecticides can come in the form of sprays, granules, and insect bait stations. While many are well tolerated by dogs and cats, certain potent types such as organophosphates can be life-threatening in small amounts. Mouse and rat poisons can contain various active ingredients that are poisonous to pets. Depending on the type ingested, poisoning can result in moderate to severe symptoms—anywhere from uncontrolled bleeding, swelling of the brain, kidney failure and seizures. 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 more difficult to treat. There is also potential for pets and wildlife to be poisoned by eating dead rodents that were poisoned by rodenticides.
Pets are curious and often cannot resist smelling, tasting and sometimes swallowing foods, plants and other items in your household. Poison-proofing your home is very important. The Pet Poison Helpline has excellent resources on how to poison-proof your home: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/. Some basic guidelines are:
- Keep pets away when taking medications or eating snacks, and ensure you properly train your pet to “leave it” or “off”, so they do not accidentally ingest something you might drop.
- Keep drugs and medications safely tucked away in a cupboard. Do not leave them on counters or in open handbags where curious pets may investigate. Flavoured and chewable medications are especially tempting to pets.
- Garbage cans and compost bins are a popular source of poisoning in pets (coffee granules, food waste) . Purchase bins that seal properly. Protect pets from themselves by making food waste inaccessible – put risky waste directly into outdoor bins (not beside or just outside the back door). Fatty foods, mouldy or spoiled food, and bones are all common problem garbage foods that pets get treated for regularly.
- Make sure your household plants are not toxic to pets. Here is a list of the top 10 poisonous plants to pets: http://petpoisonhelp.wpengine.com/pet-owners/basics/top-10-plants-poisonous-to-pets/
- Keeping veterinary emergency phone numbers and the Pet Poison Helpline (1-855-764-7661) handy can help should you need assistance quickly.
As always, we are happy to talk to you here at Edgemont Veterinary Clinic. Please give us a call at 403-239-4657 or come in to the clinic if you have any questions or concerns.