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Observe National Poison Prevention Week in March

Wednesday, February 28, 2018  
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Your pets might seem to lead charmed lives, but they need your vigilance in protecting them from poisoning hazards in and around your home.  National Poison Prevention Week, March 18 - 24, sponsored by the National Poisoning Prevention Council, is an opportunity to learn about the varied and common household items that pose risks to pets.  The Arizona Veterinary Medical Association (AzVMA) encourages pet owners to take steps to educate themselves about potential poisons and to create a safe environment for their pets.


According to Dr. Brian Serbin, DVM, of Ingleside Animal Hospital in Phoenix, "The curious nature of dogs and cats often puts our pets at risk for exposure to harmful substances.  It is important to secure all potential toxic substances within the home."


Prescription and over-the-counter medications are a significant source of pet poisoning each year.  Most pets are able to easily chew through plastic pill containers and consume the contents, so keep medication bottles safely away from pets.  Be aware of any dropped pills and immediately pick them up.  Among the most common sources of medication poisoning are pain killers, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs, and sleep aids.  These cause a spectrum of symptoms including vomiting, seizures, kidney and liver failure, weakness, agitation, and even death.


Other poisonous substances include automobile antifreeze, household cleaners, pesticides and herbicides, and some human foods such as chocolate, grapes and raisins, onions, avocado (birds and large animals) and macadamia nuts.  The artificial sweetener xylitol and food containing it can cause liver failure.  Ingestion of many common plants, such as sago palm, lilies and azaleas can lead to illness, and, in some cases, death.  Closely follow written guidelines on flea medication.  Use only products intended for your species of pet, cat products for cats only, for example. 


Pet owners should have a plan in place in case poisoning occurs:  collect containers and items chewed or regurgitated, and place these items in sealed plastic bags to bring to your veterinarian.  If you know of or suspect poison exposure, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 1-888-426-4435, even if your pet isn’t exhibiting symptoms.


A 1961 congressional resolution led to the establishment of National Poison Prevention Week in 1962 as the third week in March.

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