In the past, we have covered topics related to common pet toxins, such as poisonous plants and the dangers of chocolate and Xylitol. But, pet poisoning remains one of the most common reasons pet owners seek veterinary emergency care. Since 90% of poisonings occur in the home, it is especially important to focus on pet poison awareness and the steps you can take to poison-proof your home.

The entire month of March is dedicated to pet poison awareness, with special emphasis on National Poison Prevention Week, March 15-21. In the spirit of the theme, we encourage you to be on the lookout for chemicals and substances that create hazards for your pets.

Here are tips to keep your home, yard, and garage as safe as possible, reducing the risk of a potential pet poisoning emergency.

Pet Poison Awareness In the Home

As you roll up your sleeves for an annual spring cleaning, you can also incorporate an investigation into possible pet toxins around the home. You might be surprised what has been left out in the garage or on a counter that is accessible to your pet. When you find a toxin, we recommend moving it to a secure cupboard or out-of-reach storage cabinet to keep these items safely away from your pet.

Some of the more common pet toxins in the home include:

  • Household chemicals, such as toilet bowl cleaner, drain cleaner, floor wax or polish, lye, oven cleaner, paint remover, etc.
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications (these are too often left on counters or bedside tables within easy reach)
  • Toiletries and personal care items that contain harsh chemicals, such as hair dye, cosmetics, scented shampoo, etc.
  • Food scraps and trash – keep all garbage in a secure, lidded containerEdibles like chocolate, 
  • Xylitol, macadamia nuts, alcohol, coffee grounds, onions, and garlic – as a rule, and whenever in doubt, it is best to avoid giving pets people foods (remember to keep treats in your purse, child’s backpack or lunch bag away from nosy pets)
  • Household plants such as lilies (extremely toxic to cats), English ivy, and philodendrons

Yard & Garage Pet Hazards

Once you have tackled the home and have cleared out the possible pet poisons, you can turn your attention to the garage and yard.

Planning on prepping those garden beds? Cleaning out boxes and containers in the garage? To prevent an accidental pet poisoning emergency, avoid using (or use with care) the following:

  • Pesticides, herbicides, and other lawn chemicals
  • Bone meal, blood meal, and soil amenders
  • Compost (which often contains coffee grounds, onion peels, etc.)
  • Cocoa hull mulch
  • Toxic outdoor plants, such as oleander, laurels, rhododendrons, azaleas, and castor bean
  • Take special care when handling or storing automobile fluids, especially antifreeze, which is highly toxic. Take care to clean up spills or leaks where antifreeze has collected in the drive or garage.

With all of the chemicals we use in our daily lives, it is unfortunately understandable why pet poisoning situations are prevalent. The good news is that we can decrease our pet’s exposure to dangerous toxins through practicing pet poison awareness. Take the time to thoroughly go through your home and yard, removing or storing anything that could be ingested by your pet. And, supervise your pet when outside or at the park.

If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxin, please treat the situation as a possible emergency and seek veterinary care. Time plays a significant factor in treatment and recovery.