Sunday, March 15, 2009

National Poison Prevention Week Tips and Resources

National Poison Prevention Week is March 15-21, 2009 and let’s not forget this can also apply to our pets, not just the humans.

According to the ASPCA:

If you suspect that your pet may have become exposed to a harmful substance, but is not showing signs of illness, stay calm! Contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435 first. Not all exposure situations require an immediate trip to the clinic. If your animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone ahead and bring your pet immediately to your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic. If necessary, he or she may call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Otherwise, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435.

When you call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435, it’s most helpful to be ready with the following information: the species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved, the animal’s symptoms, information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount of the agent involved and the time elapsed since the time of exposure. Have the product container/packaging available for reference. Collect in a sealable plastic bag any material your pet may have vomited or chewed. The APCC experts are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, make the call that can make all the difference: (888) 426-4435. The call is toll-free. A $60 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is staffed by 30 veterinarians, including 13 who are board-certified in general and veterinary toxicology. In addition, our experts use Antox, our unique veterinary medical database system of more than one million animal exposure case histories. With the combined knowledge of our experts and our medical database, we are able to provide the most timely and accurate information on the potential effects of poisons and how to manage exposures to them.

In 2007, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center managed more than 130,000 cases. The top calls of 2007 involved the following common household goods and products:

· Prescription and over-the-counter drugs, both of the human and pet variety, including painkillers, cold and flu preparations and antidepressants. The ASPCA cautions pet owners to never give their four-legged family members any type of medication without first talking with a veterinarian. All drugs should be kept out of reach, preferably in closed cabinets above countertops.
· Insecticides and insect control products such as flea and tick preparations and insect baits. Some species of animals can be particularly sensitive to certain types of insecticides, so it is vital that you follow label instructions exactly and never use any product not specifically formulated for your pet.
· Common household plants such as lilies, azaleas and kalanchoe. Rhododendron, sago palm and schefflera can also be harmful to pets.
· Chemical bait products designed for mice, rats and other rodents. When using any rodenticide, place the product in areas that are completely inaccessible to companion animals. Cats react very differently than dogs to some insecticides; because of this, some flea-control products that are safely used on dogs, particularly those containing permethrin, can be deadly to cats, even in small amounts.
· Common household cleaners such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the skin, eyes or respiratory tract may be possible if a curious animal has an inappropriate encounter with such products. The key to using household cleaners in a way that is safe to your pet is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage. If the label states, "Keep pets and children away from area until dry," those directions should be strictly adhered to in order to avoid potential problems. Many household cleaners can be used safely when the directions on the label are followed exactly. Products that contain bleach can be very effective in safely disinfecting certain household surfaces when used appropriately, but if your pet is exposed to them, they can cause an upset stomach, drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. There is even a danger of severe oral burns if ingested in a high-enough concentration. Please be aware that some detergents can produce similar signs in pets, and cats can be particularly sensitive to certain ingredients, such as phenols. There are also a number of websites that give ratios for vinegar water solution that are not only an effective cleaning agent, but a disinfectant, deodorizer and pet safe. Bacterial-related gastrointestinal problems could occur from drinking stagnant toilet water, so it is a good idea to discourage your dog from imbibing from the commode. Special note for those who use drop-in toilet bowl cleaning tablets: If you follow label directions, most toilet bowl cleaning tablets would not be expected to cause problems beyond minor stomach upset, should a dog take a drink out of the diluted water in the toilet bowl.

What should I include in my pet’s first-aid kit?

Accidents happen, so it’s smart to be prepared in case of an emergency. ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center experts recommend that you invest in an emergency first-aid kit for your pet.
The kit should contain:
- Fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)
- Turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
- Saline eye solution
- Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
- Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
- Forceps (to remove stingers)
- Muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)
- Can of your pet’s favorite wet food
- Pet carrier

Experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center urge you to avoid feeding the following foods to your pet: (although feeding your pet any food meant for human consumption should be avoided altogether unless suggested by your vet)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Avocado
- Chocolate (all forms)
- Coffee (all forms)
- Fatty foods
- Macadamia nuts
- Moldy or spoiled foods
- Onions, onion powder
- Raisins and grapes
- Salt
- Yeast dough
- Garlic
- Products sweetened with xylitol

To see if your pet food has been recalled The Food and Drug Administration website is an excellent resource:
You can also contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680 or go to as well.
Animal Poison Control FAQ -
Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2008 -
Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants Database-
17 Common Poisonous Plants -
Poison Prevention Week info -