March 19-25 is National Poison Prevention Week here in the United States, and while the week usually focuses on poison prevention for humans, there’s no reason not to use it as an opportunity to talk about poison prevention tips for the animals in our homes. While many will use National Poison Prevention Week to poison-proof their homes for their kids or elderly relatives, why not take a few extra minutes to poison-proof your house for your pets, too? In this article, we’ll go over various sources of poison to pets in your home, room by room.
Let’s start with your living room. Many household plants can be toxic to cats and dogs. While most people know that Christmas poinsettia is toxic to cats, fewer know that common lilies are deadly to cats. Cats that ingest lilies can have total renal failure, even from eating just a petal or two, so remove all lilies from bouquets if you have a cat. Also, keep home fragrance products, like pots of simmering liquid potpourri, away from areas pets can access. They can cause chemical burns if ingested. And in terms of aerosol potpourri, don’t spray them near your birdcage—birds can be very sensitive to aerosols. If you smoke in your home, keep ashtrays (or smoking cessation products like nicotine gum) away from pet-accessible areas. Nicotine poisoning is very common in pets, and easily preventable.
As for your kitchen, we’ve written quite a bit about the dangers of human food to cats and dogs. Grapes, chocolate, bread dough, onions, and garlic should all be kept away from cats and dogs. But as any pet owner knows, cats and dogs often want most what they ought not to have, so get a garbage can that pets can’t break into.
In your bathroom, keep all medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription, away from your pets. Don’t leave them out—lock them up in your medicine cabinet or put them in your pantry. Don’t store them in plastic baggies, which animals love to chew on. And speaking of medications, never give human medication to your pets unless specifically told to by your vet. Tylenol and Advil are poisonous to animals, for example.
Cleaning products, whether used for your bathroom or kept in your utility room, can be very poisonous, so keep them away from your pets. Sprays, aerosols, wipes, and scrubs should all be kept in non-pet accessible cabinets, or behind closed doors of some sort. This is especially true in the basement and garage. While it’s easy to just toss chemical cleaners and other potentially poisonous items just about anywhere in those locations, cleaning agents and chemicals like fertilizers, antifreeze, pesticides, and rodent killer can poison your pet if they get into them.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, from a lily petal to a sip of antifreeze, contact your veterinarian in Philadelphia immediately. The sooner you treat it, the better your pet’s chances.
A specialty veterinary healthcare hospital in the greater Philadelphia area, VRC’s emergency medicine and critical care center is open 24/7, 365 days a year. Don’t wait—call if you have an after-hours emergency.