National Poison Prevention Week for Pets

The ASPCA reminds pet parents to protect cats and dogs from household poisons.

Does your kitty like to snack on plants? In observance of National Poison Prevention Week, March 14-20, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sheds light on the most common dangers pets may encounter, and offers helpful advice for poison-proofing your home.

“National Poison Prevention Week is an opportune time to educate pet owners about the many toxic substances that can harm our pets,” said Dr. Steven Hansen, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Animal Health Services. “Our animal companions depend on us to be informed and protect them from danger.”

In 2009, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Ill. managed more than 195,000 calls. The public utilized the APCC’s 24-hour hotline for emergency and non-emergency inquiries alike. The APCC number is (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

The top calls of 2009 involved the following common household goods and products:

  1. Just Say No to Drugs: For several years, human medications have been No. 1 on the ASPCA’s list of common hazards, and 2009 was no exception. Last year, the ASPCA managed more than 45,000 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so it’s essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.
  2. Bugged out: In our effort to battle home invasions of unwelcome pests, pets can be put at risk. In 2009, our toxicologists fielded more than 29,000 calls related to insecticides. “One of the most common incidents is the misuse of flea and tick products,” said Hansen. “Some species of animals can be particularly sensitive to certain types of insecticides, so it is vital that you never use any product not specifically formulated for your pet.” It is also a good idea to consult with your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.
  3. No Food for You: People food like grapes, raisins, avocado and certain citrus fruit can seriously harm our furry friends, and accounted for more than 17,000 cases in 2009. One of the worst offenders — chocolate — contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures.
  4. Don’t Eat the Daisies: In 2009, common household plants such as azalea, lilies and kalanchoe, were the subject of nearly 8,000 calls to the poison center. Other varieties that can be harmful to pets include rhododendron, sago palm and schefflera. “Just one or two sago palm nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and even liver failure,” said Dr. Hansen. “Also, lilies are highly toxic to cats — even in small amounts they can produce life-threatening kidney failure.”
  5. Read the Directions: Even though veterinary medications are intended for pets, they’re often misapplied or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents. In 2009, the ASPCA managed over 7,500 cases involving animal-related preparations such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements.


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