Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Are Your Home and Yard Free From Poisons?

By Linda Cole

March is poison prevention month, and it's a reminder to reflect on what you have planted in your yard, and what you have stored in the garage, basement and around the home. It's also a good time to think before you plant dangerous garden plants in areas your pets have access to. The time you take to check for poisons in and around your home can save your pet's life. Make sure your home and yard are free from poisons.

Poison prevention month is meant to bring awareness to the dangers of accidental poisonings, not only for pets, but for humans as well. On September 16, 1961, Congress designated the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. Every year, poison control centers from across the country report more than 2 million incidents of accidental poisonings with over 90 percent happening in the home. Although the majority of victims of nonfatal poisonings are children, pets are also at risk of accidental poisonings because there are a lot of toxic products and food in our homes that pets have easy access to.

Thousands of pets are poisoned every year, with an up-tick in cases reported during the holiday season when cats and dogs have more people food available to them that can be toxic and kill them. Chocolate, alcohol, walnuts, fatty meats, grapes and raisins are on a long list of people food that can poison pets. The best way to keep your pet safe is to avoid giving people food altogether, and just stick with a high-quality pet food such as CANIDAE or FELIDAE. A pet's begging eyes may be hard to resist, but an emergency trip to the vet after an accidental poisoning could be expensive and heartbreaking.

Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets. It doesn't take much to poison a dog or cat. The dangers with antifreeze are that it has a sweet taste pets are attracted to, and it's pretty easy for pets to find little puddles of antifreeze in driveways or on streets. If you spill antifreeze while adding it in your car's radiator or if your radiator boils over, clean up the spill immediately to keep your pets safe as well as any neighborhood pets that may wander onto your property. Snow globes contain a small amount of antifreeze in the liquid, but it's enough to poison pets and children if a globe is broken or cracked. For more information on antifreeze poisoning, visit the Pet Poison Helpline website.

If you have plants in or around your home, make sure you know what they are, and research them to make sure they’re not toxic to pets or kids. Many garden plants, flowers and houseplants can be toxic to pets, and it only takes a little nibble to poison a dog or cat. You can find a list of toxic plants on the ASPCA website. The list names the most common plants reported to vets and poison control centers, but it's not a complete list by any means.

Human medications that are dropped on the floor or left where a pet can find them contribute to accidental poisonings every year. Never give your pet human medication unless it's been prescribed by a vet. Some of our medications are safe for pets and are in fact the same as what we take, but in much smaller doses. However, don't gamble with your pet's life when it comes to human medications – leave prescribing medicine for your pet to your veterinarian. Aspirin is extremely toxic to cats and not all dogs can tolerate the drug and are at risk of being poisoned if given too large of a dose. Keep all medication, human or pet, stored where pets can't get to them.

Poisons used to eradicate rodents, ants or other pests can be found by pets. Cleaning products used around the home, flea products, laundry products, bleach, essential oils used in air fresheners, and soap can all be hazardous to pets. Poison awareness month is a good time to look around your home to identify potential poisons so you can make sure they are locked away safely.

Every pet owner should have the phone number and emergency number for their vet and the phone number to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 1-888-426-4435 (there may be a $65.00 consultation fee), Pet Poison Helpline: 1-800-213-6680 (a $39.00 fee) or the Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine 24/7 hotline: 1-785-532-5679 which is free.

Every pet owner should also know the symptoms of accidental poisonings which include vomiting, lack of appetite, staggering, excessive or unusual drooling, lethargy, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, or seizures.

Photo: "Leroy," courtesy of Jennifer Costello at MyBrownNewfies

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. That is some mighty good info. I had a dog die when she was four years old from finding anti freeze in a dump spot. It was horrible. But those were some good facts.

  2. A very important post! Thanks!

    Your pal, Pip

  3. Thanks so much for the info. It's important for us to keep our house safe for our pets.


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