Protect pets from household poisons

Originally published in the Rolesville Buzz
March 2014

March is here. Can you believe it? With spring right around the corner, I am ready to get out of the house and enjoy warmer weather.

We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and the Ides of March if you are a Roman history buff, but did you know that March is National Animal Prevention Awareness Month? During the month of March, take the time to update yourself and your family about the foods and plants that can make your pet sick or even cause their death.

Here are some tips on how you as a pet owner can provide a poison-safe pet environment.

Plants can be toxic to your pets if eaten. Be aware of the plants that are in your home and yard. These include azalea, oleander, caster bean, sago palm, Easter lily (cats only), and yew plant.

Household cleaning agents can have toxic ingredients that cause anything from a simple stomach ache to severe burns of the mouth, tongue and stomach. Always store cleaning products in a secured area.

Did you know that many common items such as mothballs, potpourri, coffee grounds, fabric softener sheets, batteries, cigarettes and hand-and-foot warmers can be dangerous to your pet? Take special precautions around puppies, as they will eat almost anything; it doesn’t have to taste good.

Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can have serious side effects on your furry friend. Always consult your veterinarian before administering any medications intended for humans. Pain medicines, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills among others can be deadly even in small doses.

We have all heard that anti-freeze is deadly, but did you know that just a tablespoon of it can be fatal to a 20-pound dog? Propylene glycol is a safer form of antifreeze when needed. But always be sure to clean up any spills or leaks immediately. Even flea and tick medications can be dangerous if not administered properly. Never use dog product on cats or vice versa.

When using any type of pesticides or baits for rodents, be sure they are placed in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. They can contain ingredients that will attract your pet as well as the rodent or pest. They can cause seizures, internal bleeding or kidney failure in dogs and cats. And keep your pet out of a room where you are using insecticidal foggers or sprays for the period of time that is noted on the label.

Be extra cautious if you allow your pet to have table food. Many human foods can be toxic and even fatal to animals. The list includes, but is not limited to, onions, onion powder, chocolate, alcoholic beverages, yeast dough, coffee, tea, salt, macadamia nuts, hops (used in beer brewing) raisins and grapes, which can cause kidney failure in dogs. For an extensive list you can log onto and click the link for Pet Safety.

Always store fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and ice and snow melting products in an area that is not accessible to your pets. Do not allow pets on lawns and gardens that have been treated with these products until the ground is completely dried. If you pet does come into contact, be sure to immediately clean their paws so they don’t ingest poison by licking their paws.

And for those that have the trash surfers, be sure to secure your cans so that Fido won’t grab a midnight snack of items that can have an adverse effect.

If you do have a poisoning emergency, be sure to contact your veterinarian, Pet Poison Control Helpline at 800-213-6680 or ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 (there may be a small charge for this call).