Vets offer tips for keeping pets safe from poisons

It’s National Poison Prevention Week, and veterinarians are reminding owners about the surprising number of household items that are toxic to pets.

One frequent source of danger is prescription medication intended for humans or other animals in the house, said Dr. Jennifer Pittman, a board-certified emergency and critical care veterinarian with BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

The BluePearl Atlanta team recently cared for a shih tzu who broke into a container of phenobarbital prescribed for a Labrador retriever housemate. The shih tzu was comatose for three days, but fortunately made a full recovery, Pittman said.

“Animals are pretty crafty,” said Pittman. “You may think the medication is out of their reach, but they find surprising ways to get to it.”

Pittman recommends all owners keep medications in a locked cabinet that pets can’t access. Also, never give your pets human medication – prescription or non-prescription – without checking first with your veterinarian.

In addition, with Easter right around the corner, Pittman reminds owners that many of the staples commonly found in Easter baskets, including chocolate and plastic grass, are extremely hazardous for pets.

Other common pet poisons may include:


Household products such as cleaners, antifreeze and paint thinner


Hops, the ingredient used in brewing beer

Lawn and garden products


Cocoa bean mulch

Bodybuilding or weight loss supplements

Additionally, garlic, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions and raw or undercooked food can create major problems for dogs and cats.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, remain calm. Call your family veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888/426-4435, and bring any remaining possible poison with you to help your veterinarian diagnose the problem.

“Prevention is always the best strategy,” said Pittman. “Learning more about which items in your house or yard may be toxic is an important first step in limiting your pet’s exposure to poison.”

(BluePearl Veterinary Partners)

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