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Pet Toxins: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Pet Safe

A black tabby cat is eating the house plants

We all worry about our pets and take measures to protect their bodies and minds, but did you know that some of the biggest dangers your pet could face might be lurking in your home?

Take a few moments to become acquainted with the most commonly encountered pet toxins, and learn how to protect your pet from accidental poisoning, both inside and outside the home.

Pet Toxins in and Around the Home

Medications – The over-the-counter and prescription medications we take every day, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, vitamins, asthma inhalers, and ADHD medications, should be kept out of your pet’s reach at all times. Even medications prescribed by your veterinarian should be locked away, as these are often flavored to taste like treats and could be tempting for pets.

Chemicals – Antifreeze is probably the most dangerous chemical your pet may come into contact with around the home. Its sweet smell and taste make it irresistible to dogs and cats, and even a small amount can cause fatal kidney failure. Store antifreeze out of your pet’s reach and clean up any spills immediately.

Food – With holiday festivities right around the corner, now is a good time to review food safety for pets. Chocolate, alcohol, grapes, onions, macadamia nuts, and anything sweetened with Xylitol are among the most common causes of food-related poisonings in pets. Keep trash bins covered, put leftovers away immediately, and don’t give table scraps to your pet.

Houseplants – Many ornamental plants found around the home and yard are toxic to pets if ingested. Before you bring your plants inside for the winter, make sure you refer to the ASPCA’s list of plants that are poisonous to pets.

Fertilizer – Many fertilizers can be quite appealing to a pet. Blood meal, for example, can be tempting, but contains toxic levels of nitrogen and iron. Keep all fertilizers and other lawn and garden chemicals away from pets, or switch to pet-friendly versions whenever possible.

Nicotine and marijuana – Cigarettes and e-cigarette liquid can have deadly consequences for a pet if consumed. Marijuana ingestion, while not deadly, may still require a pet to be treated.

Remember, backpacks, purses, and tote bags often hold numerous items that could be toxic to your pet, such as medications, Xylitol-based gum, and leftover lunches. Play it safe and hang or store all bags far away from curious pets.

Signs of Toxicity in Pets

Symptoms of pet poisoning might include:

  • Drooling
  • Excessive panting
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • Rapid pulse
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Seizure
  • Coughing up blood

Your team at Animal Medical & Surgical Center is equipped to handle your pet poisoning emergency 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Please call us or bring your pet in if you know or suspect that he or she has ingested something poisonous. If possible, please bring a sample of the item with you, as it can help us to diagnose and treat your pet as quickly as possible.

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