March is National Poison Prevention Awareness Month, and March 20-26, 2011 is Animal Poison Prevention Week. Here are some tips on how you as a pet owner can provide a poison-safe pet environment.
Plants Be aware of the plants that are in your home and yard, as many of them are toxic to your pets if ingested. These include azalea, oleander, caster bean, sago palm, Easter Lily (in cats only), and yew plant. Cick here to view ASPCA's list of poisonous plants.
Household Cleaning Agents Never allow your pet access to any household cleaning products. Many have ingredients that are toxic and can cause anything from mild stomach upset to severe burns of the mouth, tongue or stomach. Store all products in a secured area.
Medications Secure all prescription drugs and over the counter medicines out of reach of your pets. Many can be deadly to animals. Always consult your veterinarian before administering any medications intended for humans. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills, among others, can be lethal to animals, even in small doses.
Common Household Items Many common household items are toxic and dangerous to animals, such as mothballs, potpourri, coffee grounds, fabric softener sheets, batteries, cigarettes and hand and foot warmers.
Automotive Products Gasoline, oil, and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. Less than one tablespoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a 20-pound dog. Propylene glycol is a safer form of antifreeze. Be sure to wipe up or hose away any spills or leaks.
Read Labels Before administering any product to your pet, such as flea medicine, always read labels and follow directions on the package. Never use products intended for cats on dogs or vice versa.
Pesticides and Rodenticides When using rat, mouse, snail or slug baits, or ant or roach traps, be sure they are placed in areas inaccessible to your pets. Most contain ingredients that can attract your pets. Many of these products could cause seizures, internal bleeding or kidney failure in dogs and cats. Do not allow your pets to enter rooms in which insecticidal foggers or sprays have been applied for the period of time indicated on the label.
Foods That are Hazardous Many human foods should never be given to animals as they could be toxic to them. The extensive list includes onions, onion powder, chocolate , alcoholic beverages, yeast dough, coffee, tea, salt, macadamia nuts, hops (used in beer brewing), raisins and grapes. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.
Yard and Garden Chemicals Always store fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, ice and snow melt and other such products in areas that are inaccessible to your pets such as securely locked sheds or on high shelves out of reach. Do not allow your pets on lawns or in gardens treated with these products until completely dried. Be sure to read all labels carefully regarding product usage around pets. If your pet walks on ice or snow melt or lawns treated with chemicals, be sure to wipe off their feet immediately. They may ingest the products by licking their paws.
Secure Trash Cans The wide variety of household items and food in most trash cans can prove deadly for your pet. Use trash cans with lids that your pet can't open or store in out of reach places such as cabinets.
What to do in Case of Poisoning
You should always have phone numbers handy for your veterinarian,
Pet Poison Helpline
ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center
. You can use the links on this website. Contact them immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic.
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.