March is Pet Poison Awareness month. It’s estimated that over 100,000 cases of pet poisoning occur each year. Pets are really good at snapping up anything that hits the floor, and sneaking away to search for something to get into. It’s a situation no one wants to face, but with a little prevention and preparation you can save your pet’s life.
Many of the substances that poison pets are things around the house that we don’t think twice about. One pill or pack of gum could be all it takes to make your pet very ill. Ideally all cleaners, medications, food, and other tempting items should secured away from pets and children.
- Medications (mainly antidepressants, heart and over-the-counter pain medications)
- Insecticides (ingesting flea and tick preventatives)
- Household cleaners
- People food and alcohol
- Plants (mainly sago palms, tulip and daffodil bulbs, and azaleas
- Lawn and garden products
- Rodent poison
- Xylitol (in sugar-free foods such as gum)
You may have seen posts on social media showing which medications are safe to administer to pets. In reality, you should never attempt to treat your pet with any medication without talking to your vet. The margin of error can be very small, and animals metabolize medications differently than humans.
Symptoms of Poisoning:
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
Unfortunately vomiting and diarrhea aren’t uncommon, and can occur with any number of illnesses. If your pet is violently ill, it’s best to act quickly; waiting even a few hours could mean life or death. The sooner poisoning is diagnosed the easier, safer, and less expensive it will be to save your pet.
What to do if you think your pet has been poisoned:
- Gather the evidence (including any vomit for testing)
- Contact your vet or emergency vet
- Call a pet poison hotline if outside normal hours (see below)
- Do not induce vomiting unless instructed
Remaining calm is the most difficult yet important thing to do in a crisis. Thinking ahead and making a plan before something bad happens will increase the odds that your pet will make a full recovery. It’s a good idea to save the numbers of local emergency clinics and pet poison hotlines so they are at your fingertips in an emergency. The ASPCA has a helpful app that lists poisons, their toxicity, and a calculator based on weight and amount ingested.
Pet Poison Hotlines (open 24/7/365)
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 888-426-4435 ($65 per incident)
Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661 ($49 per incident)
We hope you and your pet will never experience a poison-related emergency. The best thing you can do is pet-proof your home and yard, and educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of poisoning. Share this post with all the pet lovers in your life so they can too!