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March is Pet Poison Prevention Month

Every March, we are reminded about the need to keep our children safe from a wide variety of household items that can possibly poison our little humans. This observance has been happening since 1961 when the US Congress passed a joint resolution for National Poison Prevention Week. Now, thanks to the ASPCA and groups like Pet Poison Helpline, we also observe Pet Poison Prevention Week every March as well.

So, what kind of hazards do our pets face in our homes?? Believe it or not, the list is MUCH larger than you can imagine. Now, thanks to Pet Poison Helpline (PPH), pet lovers can check the most common “Toxin Trends” in their state (or the US and Canda) for dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and even horses! This interactive website can show you just what percentage of phone calls to PPH happen for various toxins as well as the top clinical signs you might see.

For example, the leading reason for a pet lover here in Indiana to call Pet Poison Helpline is that their pet has eaten chocolate. 18.6% of all calls to PPH involving dogs are because the dog ate chocolate. From this page, I can see that the top signs of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, drowsiness, irritability, and tachycardia (fast heart rate). From there I can see that the top cat toxin is exposure to plants in the lily family (Lilium species). Almost 15% of calls from cat owners here in Indiana involve the lily family of plants. Clinical signs for this toxin also include vomiting and lethargy, but you might also see anorexia, diarrhea, or excessive salivation/drooling.

In general, the most common toxins for our dogs and cats will include:

  • Food items like chocolate, foods with xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions, macadamia nuts, etc

  • Human medications, especially over the counter pain relievers, but also including anti-anxiety medications, vitamin supplements, or amphetamine combinations

  • Pet medications – many of these drugs are flavored to make dosing easier, but that means that your pet may want to eat more than he/she should!

  • Rodenticides – mouse and rat poisons

  • Household plants – sago palms or lilies

  • Recreational drugs like marijuana or edible THC products

It goes without saying that all of these products (and so many more) need to be kept in secure areas that your pet can’t break into. Whenever you drop or spill your medications, make sure that you pick up ALL of the spilled pills. A single 500 mg acetaminophen caplet (Tylenol) can actually kill your cat!!

If your pet gets into something and you are concerned, call your Noah’s veterinarian or one of our three 24 hour facilities. Time could be important, so don’t delay! You can also call Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 or the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Center at 88-426-4435 for guidance. There is a fee for this service, but it could end up providing a quicker response for the emergency team and a better outcome for your pet!

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