March is Pet Poison Prevention Month. It’s amazing how many things can be poisonous to pets. Not all exposure/ingestion of poisonous materials requires an immediate trip to the vet, so if you suspect your pet ate something it shouldn’t have, don’t panic! Try to determine what and how much your pet ate and assess its condition. A pet that is unconscious, losing consciousness, having difficulty breathing or has a seizure needs immediate medical care. Keep the name and number of your local veterinarian on file. It is also a good idea to keep the name and number of an afterhours/emergency animal clinic handy. There are two in the DC-metro area:
Friendship Hospital for Animals - located in Northwest DC. Phone number: 202-591-3575
VCA Veterinary Referral Associates - located in Gaithersburg, MD. Phone number: 240-813-8079
Even if your pet seems fine, it’s still a good idea to call your vet or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). The APCC is open 24 hours, 365 days a year. There is a $65 fee to use the service. The phone number is 888-426-4435. The APCC is staffed by veterinary health professionals who have received special training in veterinary toxicology.
When calling your local vet or the APCC hotline have the following information ready:
- The species, breed, age, weight and gender of the animal
- The animal’s symptoms
- Information about what and how much was ingested or what the animal was exposed to
- How long since the poison was ingested
· If possible, have the product's container/packaging available. If needed, collect any materials the animal may have vomited or chewed to take to the vet.
As we mentioned before, it’s incredible how many things we have in our homes that are harmful to pets. Who would have thought pennies minted after 1982 could harm your pet? Or that eating macadamia nuts can cause a dog to be depressed, vomit, have tremors and/or hyperthermia. Many of these items are foods we eat on a daily basis or products we use to clean our homes. As a pet owner it’s very important to remember that just because it’s safe for humans doesn’t mean it’s safe for our pets. The ASPCA has compiled a great list of tips for creating a poison safe home for your pets. Be sure to check out their list of toxic and non-toxic flowers and plants. Before you banish all unsafe foods and products from your home, remember prevention is the best thing we pet owners can do to keep our furry friends safe.