March is Pet Poison Awareness Month
By Melanie Rushforth, Vice President of Veterinary Services

The month of March is designated as Pet Poison Awareness Month. It was established to help raise awareness and prevent illness and injuries for pets. Realistically, we need to focus on poison prevention all year long as veterinary professionals treat cats and dogs year-round for this type of emergency. The veterinary industry is still experiencing staffing shortages nationwide, and taking some simple precautions could save you, and your pet, the stress of hours-long waits at crowded emergency clinics.

Pets may become very ill after ingesting many common household foods, products, and plants; a thorough inspection of your home, to include outdoor patios and gardens, can help reduce the risk. Instinctively, pets are curious creatures (you’ve probably heard that age-old phrase about curiosity and cats) and if a partially empty container with cleaner, alcohol, or medication is left out, your pet may view it as a toy to be inspected, knocked around, played with and likely ingested. It’s not hard to imagine that when a spilled toxic fluid gets on a cat’s paw, she will clean herself with her tongue, ingesting something harmful. Unfortunately, with our pet’s smaller bodies and weight, just a small amount could be fatal.

Some poisons will result in an immediate reaction for your pet while others may take several days to manifest symptoms. While there is not one set of exact symptoms to indicate a pet has been poisoned, there are some general symptoms to look for, including:

– Drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea

– Lethargy, weakness

– Pale or yellowish gums

– Excessive thirst or urination

– Nervousness, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures, coma

If you witness your pet ingesting something the pet should not be, please gather up the materials involved. When seeking veterinary care, bring the product’s container with you as this can be helpful for veterinary professionals treating your pet.

Medications, cleaning products, oil or gasoline spills are easy to assume as toxic materials to keep away from pets and children. However, things like chocolate, raisins, glowsticks, and paint are things that don’t seem as obvious, but can be deadly if ingested. The ASPCA maintains a comprehensive list of foods, household products and plants known to cause problems to pets. That list can be found here.

Undoubtedly, pet parents want our pets around for as long as possible. Work poison prevention into your spring-cleaning ritual to make sure your four-legged friends aren’t at risk of any kind of accidental ingestion. They will repay the favor with kisses and wags and all the slow blinks we can handle.