March is National Pet Poison Prevention Month. Do you know the dangers lurking in everyday items?

Dogs love to sniff. They’ll put their nose in just about anything, and that “anything” can often find its way into their mouth. Chewing is all part of the exploratory nature of animals. But did you know that lurking in common household items there are a bevy of potentially poisonous substances?

These substances typically fit into five categories: human medications (Ibuprofen, antidepressants, Acetaminophen, Marijuana edibles), human foods (xylitol, avocado, onions, grapes, raisins), insecticides (insect baits), rodenticides (mouse and rat poisons) and dietary supplements and vitamins (iron, Vitamin D). In addition, common household cleaners (bleaches, disinfectants) and common plants (lilies, tulip bulbs and oleander) can also be of great concern.

“Veterinary toxicology is such an interesting and important subject,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, AHS President and CEO. “Animals, especially dogs, can open just about any type of child-proof packaging, and as a result, poison cases are commonly seen in veterinary hospitals. Make sure to always keep a close eye on your pet and store human foods, cleaning products, and medications above the counter and out of reach.”

Cat eating pumpkin piePreventing poisonous encounters is as simple as keeping all of these items out of a pet’s reach just as you would a child. Do not leave pills, pill bottles or other items on counters and secure all pills, cleaners and insecticides. It is best to secure these items in cabinets above counters where they are not accessible whatsoever. If they must be stored in lower cabinets, ensure that they are equipped with childproof locks. Please note that drain cleaners should never be stored in lower cabinets without a childproof lock. Also be very careful when handling pills to ensure your pet does not ingest one that has accidentally been dropped on the ground. Never assume that human medication is suitable for a pet, and discuss all options with your veterinarian first.

For an added measure of safety, you can also train your dog to “leave it.” Click below on the video to watch our expert trainers use this lifesaving technique. For more information and step-by-step instructions, download the PDF.

Although symptoms of poisoning can vary, they often include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite, staggering, trembling or trouble breathing. If your pet does exhibit these signs, call your veterinarian immediately or visit the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital. In addition, pet owners can invest in an emergency first-aid kit for their pet, but will need to consult their veterinarian first regarding how and when to use those items.

Emergency Pet First-aid Kit*:

  • Fresh bottle hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP to induce vomiting
  • Bulb syringe to administer peroxide
  • Saline eye solution
  • Artificial tear gel for eye lubrication
  • Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid for skin contamination
  • Forceps to remove stingers
  • Muzzle in case of fear/biting
  • Can of wet food
  • Pet carrier

*Always consult a veterinarian first to determine when and how to use emergency first-aid items.

According to the ASPCA, its Animal Poison Control Center answers over 200,000 calls for help annually.

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, please contact your veterinarian and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435.

About Dr. Steven Hansen, Arizona Humane Society President and CEO
Dr. Steven Hansen with small dogPrior to joining AHS, Dr. Hansen spent 16 years with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), most recently as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. He is one of a handful of veterinarians board-certified by the American Board of Toxicology and the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology. In recognition of National Poison Prevention Month, Dr. Steven Hansen offers these poison safety tips to help keep your pet safe.