Tips to Avoid Pet Poisonings

ASPCA offers advice in preparation for National Poison Prevention Week.

National Poison Prevention Week is from March 18 to 24, and as it approaches, the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center is cautioning pet owners everywhere to be mindful of exposing their pets to substances and other items that may prove harmful to them.

“Every year thousands of animals are hurt and sometimes seriously injured by poisonous items — many as seemingly innocent as a plant,” said Steven Hansen, veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Midwest Office in Urbana, Ill., which also houses the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

To help pet owners identify potentially dangerous objects, the ASPCA has the following tips:

  • Be aware of the plants you have in your home and yard: Some plants such as Sago Palm, Oleander and Rhodendron can be toxic to pets if ingested.
  • Don’t allow pets to have access to the areas in which cleaning agents are being used or stored: Cleaning agents have a variety of properties; some may only cause mild stomach upset, but others can cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth, and stomach.
  • Be careful when using rat and mouse baits.
  • Read the label first: Always read the label before using flea products on or around your pets. For example, some flea products for dogs can be deadly if given to cats.
  • Keep all prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of your pets’ reach, preferably in closed cabinets: Pain killers, cold medicines, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are all examples of human medications that can be lethal to animals, even in small doses.
  • Be aware of foods that are harmful to pets: There’s a long list of food items that potentially could be dangerous to pets. They include: onions, onion powder, chocolate, chewing gum, raisins and grapes, alcoholic beverages, yeast dough, coffee, tea, salt, macadamia nuts, hops (used in home beer brewing), tomato leaves and stems, rhubarb leaves, and moldy or spoiled foods.
  • Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets: As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than one tablespoon can be lethal to a 20-pound dog, according to veterinarians.
  • Make sure your pets do not go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until they have dried completely.

For more information on potentially dangerous substances in the home or to reach the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, call (888) 426-4435 or visit

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