Our pets are members of our families.  They have a permanent place in our hearts and our homes, which can sometimes bring them in contact with harmful substances.  March is National Poison Prevention Awareness Month with the third week of the month designated National Poison Prevention Week.  Poison prevention should be year-round, but now is a great time to assess your pet’s risk.

According to the ASPCA, more than 180,000 cases of pets being exposed to possibly toxic substances came into its Animal Poison Control call center last year.  Human prescription medications topped the list with heart medications, antidepressants and pain medications the most popular.  Most cases of accidental ingestion occurred when the owner dropped pills on the floor and the pet swooped in before the owner.  Insecticides came in second, but were especially popular with cats.  More than 50% of the calls to the center regarding cats had to do with insecticides.  Human over-the-counter medications, veterinary products and medications (particularly those tasty chewables) and household products (including cleaning supplies and fire logs) rounded out the Top 5.  Other substances in the Top 10 include chocolate (#7), plants (#8) and lawn and garden products (#10).

So, what can you do to minimize your pet’s risk of ingesting something toxic?  Keep your yard free of unfamiliar or questionable objects, do routine checks of fenced-in areas that your pet plays or goes out in, never let your pet run loose or be unsupervised for an extended amount of time.  Keep medications, cleaning supplies, chemicals (including the very dangerous antifreeze) and insecticides/rodenticides locked up and out of your pet’s reach.  Avoid giving them people food, especially foods from the toxic list.  Make sure the plants in your home are pet-safe (avoid lilies since cats love them and they’re toxic).  For more tips on keeping your pet safe, visit the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center’s web site.

If you believe your pet may have ingested something toxic, give us a call (301-258-0333) or the Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) immediately (a $65 consultation fee may apply).  Putting their number into your cell phone now is a great way to celebrate National Poison Prevention Awareness Week and month!