March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month with Poison Prevention Week starting March 17th. This is a great opportunity for a home and yard inspection to remove or secure items that are dangerous to your pet. Many of these items can pose a danger to children too.
Before an inspection can be done, it’s a good idea to know what you are looking for. Here is a list of common household and yard items which are pet poison hazards.
In the Kitchen
- Toxic foods: chocolate, gum/Xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions, garlic, chives, leeks, nuts, bones, caffeine-including coffee grounds, alcohol, fruits with pits
Around the House
- Cleaning products: oven cleaner, bleach, detergents
- Medicines: vitamins, prescription and most OTC medications. NEVER give human medicines to animals without consulting a veterinarian.
- Glue and other crafting items
- Nicotine: cigarette packs, discarded butts, ashtrays, chewing tobacco
- Potpourri and other room fresheners
- Holiday plants: poinsettia, holly/mistletoe, lilies, daffodils
- Decorations: string, tinsel, ornament hooks
- Toys: small pieces
- Heavy metals: lead-based paints, coins, batteries
- De-icing solutions
- Oil/gasoline/kerosene and other flammable liquids
- Pest prevention: mice/rats, moles, pesticides
Outside (or Inside too)
- Fertilizer and herbicides
- Cocoa mulch
- Road salts/de-icing solutions
- Unsecured trash cans
- Plants: View the ASPCA list
Now set a plan for inspecting your home and yard to protect your pet from these poisons and hazards. Take the time to inspect each room and consider your pet’s point of view. What is in their immediate path and what could be reached with some creative jumping? If you like that candy dish full of M&Ms on your coffee table when guests visit, so will your dog.
Getting your children involved with the inspection process is the perfect opportunity to teach them about pet safety and which products pose the greatest dangers. When it comes to their room or play area, what poisons or hazards can they spot? Ask them what they think is the best way to handle the situation. If they understand the tiny Lego pieces, Barbie clothing and accessories, or crayons and Play-Do can be eaten by Fido, maybe they’ll be agreeable to cleaning up when they are not using the toys.
- Store products, especially known toxins, in the original container or packaging—this provides a visual warning and label information in the case of an accidental poisoning.
- Be sure the products are properly sealed and not damaged. Quickly clean up any spills or loose product.
- Keep the items in a lockable space or high on a shelf, out of the reach of pets and children.
- In the case of poisonous plants and flowers, you’re better off not bringing them into your home.
If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested a toxin, remain calm. Start by calling your veterinary practice, emergency veterinary hospital or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435. (There is a fee for calling the poison control hotline.)
Symptoms of toxin ingestion may include—but are not limited to:
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting, with or without the presence of blood
- Losing consciousness or unconscious/unresponsive
- Extreme drooling
You’ll create a safer pet- (and child) friendly environment if you set aside the time for inspecting your home and yard for poisons and hazards. Taking the necessary precautions and having an emergency kit and phone numbers readily available can mean the difference between life and death!
According to the ASPCA, your emergency first-aid kit should contain:
- Fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3% USP (to induce vomiting)
- Turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
- Saline eye solution
- Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
- Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing after skin contamination)
- Forceps and/or tweezers to remove stingers or ticks
- Can of your pet’s favorite wet food
- Available pet carrier
Be informed. Be prepared. Be safe.
Doylestown Veterinary Hospital: 215-345-6000
ASPCA Animal Poison Control: 888-426-4435