Our pets are curious and adventurous, and we love that about them. However, sometimes that means that they are apt to—shall we say—“get into things” they shouldn’t. As the adage goes, prevention is the best medicine. So, let Columbia Pike Animal Hospital get you started on preventing a pet poisoning in your home.

Pet toxicity 101

One of the most important things you should know about pet poisoning is that most poisons act fast, so if you know that your pet has ingested something toxic, you must act quickly. Bring your pet to the nearest emergency clinic immediately, along with the package of what they ate, if possible. Don’t spend time on the internet or leave a voicemail for your veterinarian—“pet to the vet” is the mantra here. Our hospital is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The Pet Poison Helpline is also a valuable resource. 

You may see pet poisoning signs immediately, or signs may be so subtle that you may not notice anything for several days. Poisoning signs may include:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • A racing heartbeat
  • Panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Pale or greyish gum color
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle tremors
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Seizures

Prevent pet poisoning in your home

Keep these toxic home items out of your pet’s reach, and you’ll sleep easier at night. 

  • People food — People foods, such as chocolate; fatty table scraps; bread dough; raisins and grapes; onions, garlic, and chives; macadamia nuts; and xylitol, which is found in chewing gum and peanut butter, among other foods, can all cause pet poisoning. All people food should be kept away from pets.
  • Human medications — Many human medications can be extremely toxic to pets, including acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol) and ibuprofen (i.e., Advil). Keep human and pet medications separated, and read all labels before giving medication.
  • Pet medications — The flavorings used in pet medications to make them palatable can also make them irresistible, so ensure they are inaccessible to your pets. Store and handle pet medications safely so your pet has no chance of gobbling down too many and becoming ill. Also, ensure that you don’t share one pet’s medication with another pet.
  • Flowers and plants — Many house and garden plants, including cyclamen, holly, poinsettias, and azaleas, and cut flowers can be poisonous to pets who ingest them. Lilies, including their leaves and pollen, are especially deadly to cats. Go pet-friendly with synthetic plants, or again ensure you display these items out of reach. See the full list of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats here.
  • Cleaning supplies — Cleaning chemicals can be merely irritating to pets’ noses and mouths, or deadly if ingested. Ventilate well while cleaning, prevent your pet from “helping,” and then store all cleaning supplies out of pets’ reach.
  • Essential oils and potpourri — Popular essential oils can be toxic to pets, so ensure your pet has a way to “escape” diffused smells. Potpourri also can be toxic to pets if ingested.

Pets can easily access purses, backpacks, and coat pockets for potentially toxic substances, so store these items out of reach as soon as you walk in the door. 

Prevent pet poisoning in your yard

It’s amazing, and somewhat nerve wracking, to realize how many things in your yard and garage pose a risk to your pet. Take a discerning look around your yard, garden, and garage, and take note of anything that could be harmful, whether or not your pet has never shown any previous interest. Ensure all containers are stored on high shelves and tightly sealed. Here’s a basic list of things to keep secure:

  • Fertilizers
  • Products containing bone meal and blood meal
  • Antifreeze
  • Pest control products, such as fly, slug or snail bait, and flea treatments
  • Rat or mouse bait
  • Pool or spa supplies
  • Citronella
  • Cocoa mulch

In the spring, another yard culprit that can be poisonous to pets, in addition to many garden plants, is mushrooms. If ingested, mushrooms can cause severe liver damage and sometimes death. Again, if you think your pet has eaten something poisonous, don’t wait to seek treatment.

Common sense and prevention are two important watchwords when it comes to pet poisoning. If you have questions or concerns, call Columbia Pike Animal Hospital. As an emergency hospital, we’re available 24 hours per day, seven days per week if you think your pet has been poisoned.