National Poison Prevention Week: How to Keep Your Pets Safe

National Poison Prevention Week: How to Keep Your Pets Safe

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National Poison Prevention Week

 comes once a year every March, but safety should be practiced every day, all year long. If you suspect your pet has ingested poison, be prepared to answer the following questions when you contact your veterinarian or poison control center.

  • Name of the suspected poison
  • How much was absorbed, ingested, or inhaled
  • How long ago you believe the poisoning occurred
  • Weight of your pet
  • Signs of poisoning: vomiting, tremors, excessive salivation, color of gums, heart and breathing rates and, if practical, body temperature

National Poison Prevention Week: Protecting Our Cats

Our feline friends are constantly exploring their surroundings, harnessing their natural instincts to investigate and honing their hunting skills. Unfortunately, cats’ propensity for discovery can easily get them in trouble.

There’s a myth floating around that cats are less susceptible to poisoning than dogs thanks to their more discriminate eating tendencies, but that’s simply not the case. When you couple felines’ curious nature with their grooming habit of licking substances found on their coats, they prove far from immune from the perils of poison. In fact, poisons and toxic substances can be even more hazardous to felines, since they have smaller body sizes and digestive systems less capable of breaking down certain substances.

It’s not uncommon for veterinarians and animal clinics to field frantic phone calls from owners who’ve discovered their cat ingested something that’s potentially toxic. With proper education and preventative efforts, though, we can strive to minimize such situations. National Poison Prevention Week represents a campaign designed to raise awareness regarding dangerous substances and how to handle a poison-related emergency.

Lead toxicity refers to poisoning due to ingestion or inhalation of products containing the element lead. Poison Prevention Week is an excellent time to recognize the dangers in your home before they cause a problem so your home can be a safer place for your cat.

Cats can run into lead poisoning if they get into:

  • Household items such as drapery weights, linoleum, rug padding, and foil from the tops of wine bottles.
  • Automotive parts such as batteries, wheel weights, leaded gasoline, and discarded oil from cars using leaded gasoline.
  • Construction materials such as solder, putty, and caulking.
  • Plumbing and roofing materials.

Plants are another example of something that cats love

, but can be extremely dangerous and a hazard to their well-being. Springtime holidays are often associated with bulb plants and ingestion of the bulbs causes the most severe illness. Summer holidays are also associated with plants. Here are some of the more common spring and summer holiday plants and information on their toxicity.

  • Easter lily (Lilium or Hemorocallis sp.). This plant has serious toxic effects in cats. Kidney failure, vomiting, and depression can occur after ingesting a small amount. So far, only cats seem to be affected.
  • Tulip (Tulip spp.). Ingestion can result in intense vomiting, depression, diarrhea, drooling, and lack of appetite.
  • Hyacinth (Hyacinthus oreintalis). Ingestion can result in intense vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and tremors.
  • Daffodil (Narcissus spp). Ingestion can result in severe gastrointestinal illness, convulsions, seizures, low blood pressure, and tremors.
  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp). Ingestion can result in ulcers in the mouth, vomiting, and diarrhea.


National Poison Prevention Week: What is Toxic to Dogs?

Some of the more common poisons dogs ingest include insecticides, antifreeze, household cleaning solutions, and poisonous plants. Human foods — such as chocolate — can also be harmful. A poison’s overall effect on your canine is based on the amount of poison ingested and how long that poison was in the body prior to treatment.

The effects of a poison aren’t always immediate, and can take days or weeks to materialize. Therefore, if you witness your pet ingesting a potentially toxic substance, don’t be lured into a false sense of security simply because he doesn’t immediately become ill. Every toxic ingestion is cause for concern and should prompt an immediate call to your veterinarian or local animal emergency facility.

  • Prescription drugs. The container may be child-proof, but your dog may be persistent in chewing off the lid and getting to the pills inside. All drugs should be placed out of reach of dogs and children.
  • Over-the-counter medication. The same risks apply with OTC drugs. It is also important to remember that certain OTC drugs won’t have the same effect on pets. (Aspirin, for instance, can be dangerous.)
  • Plants. Pets are infamous for their creative destruction of plants. For dogs, most grasses are non-toxic, while ingesting poinsettia stems and leaves may cause some stomach upset and vomiting.
  • Household products and cleaners. Household products and cleaners vary quite a bit in chemical makeup and toxicity. Soaps, detergents, shampoos, alcohols, petroleum distillates, and acids are some common ingredients. They can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea or chemical burns, leading to organ damage.



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