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Preventing Pet-tential Pet Toxicity

The month of March is National Pet Poison Awareness Month and hosts “Poison Prevention Week” from the 18th to the 24th, and while it was originally dedicated to human poison awareness, we think it’s also important to include some of the most common hazards to our furry family members – many of which are everyday items in our homes.

When we think of poisons, our minds go pretty quickly to chemicals stored under the sink boasting ominous skull and crossbones stickers urging us to be cautious. For our pets, however, many things that are perfectly safe for humans to consume can cause very serious illness and even death. Since these items are in almost every home at one time or another, being diligent about their storage is absolutely imperative.

In the kitchen, some of our favorite foods can be very harmful to our pets even when only small amounts are ingested. The biggest culprits are chocolate, grapes/raisins (even just one can make a pet sick), coffee, onion, avocado, yeast dough, macadamia nuts, and anything containing xylitol (chewing gum, etc.). It’s also advisable to avoid giving your pet fatty foods or spicy foods as these can cause a very painful condition called pancreatitis.

Household plants are beautiful and bring life to a room, but knowing which ones to avoid is very important in keeping your pet healthy. Lilies are incredibly toxic, especially to cats, and even a very tiny amount can cause acute kidney failure. Other plants to watch out for include azaleas, rhododendron, tulips, and mistletoe.

As a general practice it is a good idea to keep all medications out of reach of children and pets. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen should never be given to dogs or cats as they can cause stomach ulcers and GI upset. With many of the above substances, pets may require hospitalization on IV fluids and close monitoring for a day or two to watch for signs of organ failure. Never induce vomiting unless directed by your veterinarian.

So what do I do if my pet ingests a toxic substance? The first thing you should do is call your veterinarian or the ASPCA poison control hotline at 888.426.4435 for guidance. You can visit the ASPCA website here at:

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