March 19-25 marks Poison Prevention Week, intended to raise awareness and increase education about poisonous substances and ways to keep yourselves, and your pets, safe. The best place to start is with a brief recap of common household items that are harmful to pets if ingested:
Various fruit seeds including apple, apricot, cherry, and peach
A myriad of plants/flowers including Lilies, Aloe, Carnations, Ivy, Poinsettias, Daffodils, and more
(For a full, very comprehensive list of harmful substances, head here.)
It’s also important to recognize signs of pet poisoning, should your pet ever accidentally eat something they shouldn’t. There are the basic signs, like vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and nausea. But there are also more intense reactions like pale gums, increased heart rate, lethargy, and/or coughing or vomiting blood, which are signs of internal bleeding as a result of being poisoned. Signs of kidney failure include noticeably off-putting breath, excessive thirst, suppressed appetite, and decreased urination; and symptoms of liver failure include yellowing of the gums, weakness or collapsing, abnormal behavior, and black tar-like stool. Incidents like accidental ingestion are exactly why we are always reiterating the importance of monitoring and knowing your pet, so you can clearly tell when something’s amiss.
If your pet ingests something poisonous the best option is to immediately call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680; even if they aren’t exhibiting symptoms but you know they ate something toxic, take them to the vet, as some treatments can be done within a small window of time and make all the difference. If possible, gather anything you can that would help the vet treat their intoxication, such as the packaging or a stool or vomit sample. Never try to induce vomiting or give your pet human remedies (like milk, oil, or peanut butter to settle their stomachs), as certain types of poisons require different remedies and removal.
The best, and only, way to prevent pet poisoning is by simply keeping potentially harmful things out of their reach. Keep pill bottles sealed and in a cabinet out of paw’s reach, keep harmful foods off of coffee tables or countertops where pets can reach, and be proactive – be sure to train your pet on which food and treats are acceptable and what to stay away from.