On the 50th anniversary of Poison Prevention Week, March 18-24, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is reminding pet owners that accidental poisonings are a common problem.
The vast majority of accidental poisonings in humans happen in the home, and that's true of pets as well. Many pet owners are surprised to learn how many common household items are hazardous to pets. The AVMA online brochure and video can help pet owners recognize threats to their companion animals.
"Every year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline handles over 150,000 cases of pets being poisoned, and many of those cases involved common household items," explains Dr. Steven Hansen of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). "In our homes, the bathroom is the most dangerous spot for pets. The single most common reason for calls into the poison hotline is because pets have consumed medications."
Dr. Hansen explains that childproof tops on medications offer little protection against a dog determined to get into the container. Not only are prescription drugs dangerous for dogs and cats, but some over-the-counter medicines, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are extremely poisonous to pets.
Many household poisonings happen when pet owners dose their own pets using human medications. Owners should never give a pet any pill without consulting their veterinarian.
Other household poisons include:
Houseplants are common household hazards for pets, including Cycad (Sago Palm), philodendron, dieffenbachia and lilies, which are extremely poisonous for cats.
Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener in pudding, sugarless chewing gum and baked items, is very poisonous to dogs and can result in death.
Raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs and cats. While researchers haven't determined the cause of this toxicity, for some reason raisins seem to be far more likely to result in a serious poisoning.
Birds are sensitive to aerosol sprays, like hair spray or fragrances, and also avocados.
Chocolate can make a cat or dog very ill. The more concentrated the cocoa, for example in baking chocolate, the more dangerous it is for pets.
Onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, and coffee grounds are toxic to dogs and cats.
Cleaning products, automotive chemicals, like antifreeze, batteries, pennies, moth balls and glue all present issues for pets. Keep these products in close cabinets or high off the ground.
If you suspect that your pet has gotten into a poison, immediately call your veterinarian, your local emergency veterinary clinic or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
For more information on veterinary medicine, pet health and household hazards for you pets, please visit www.avma.org.