Poison Prevention Week starts March 14th and runs through March 20th.    This annual observance was started in 1961 and is designed to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them.  More information is available at www.poisonprevention.org.  Although originally created to focus on preventing poisonings of children and adults, this week is a great time to discuss potential dangers to our pets as well.

The Pet Poison Helpline service has released this list of most common toxins for our pets.

  1. Xylitol, a sweetener found in many sugarless gums, desserts, and other baked goods, can be toxic to our canine friends.   The compound can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, or, in some cases, liver failure.
  2. Human pharmaceuticals are also on this “most common” list. Through accidental or purposeful ingestion, many pets are sickened by over the counter pain relievers (such as aspirin,Tylenol or NSAIDs like Aleve). Another common poisoning occurs when our pets get into an owner’s antidepressant medications.
  3. With Easter approaching, many families will chose flowers to decorate their homes.  Flowers of the Lily family can be deadly to cats and ingestion of a few petals or even the pollen can cause severe kidney failure.
  4. Chocolate is another potential poison that is prevalent during Easter.  Dark chocolates and baking chocolates are more dangerous than milk chocolate, but enough of any chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythms, vomiting, and hyperactivity in dogs.
  5. Springtime also puts people in the mood for yard work and cleaning.  Be wary of using certain fertilizers for your lawn and garden if they contain organophosphates and/or carbamates.  These poisons can cause severe seizures, respiratory failure and death in pets.
  6. Many pets will find pest control products, like snail bait or rodenticides.   Rat poison toxicity is seen in many emergency veterinary hospitals and will eventually kill the pet without intervention and treatment.

If you see your pet ingest any of these poisons, you need to contact a veterinarian immediately.  Sometimes, severe damage can be avoided with prompt medical attention.  Keep your veterinarian’s office number along with Central Veterinary Emergency Services (303-874-PETS (7387) available on your cell phone or near your home phone.  You can also reach the specialists at Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

For all of your pet health related questions, be sure to visit www.PetDocsOnCall.com, the Internet’s largest gathering of licensed veterinarians available to answer your concerns.