National Pet Poison Prevention Week

Pet Poison Prevention Week, every 3rd week in March, is a week dedicated to help make the public more aware to common household toxins, how to avoid them and what to do if you suspect your pet has ingested one of these items.

The Most Common Poisonous Items Ingested by Pets

  • Human Medications
    • Prescription medications – depending on the type of medication and the amount ingested
    • Over-the-counter medications – most specifically products containing acetaminophen (aspirin) and other NSAIDS (Aleve, Advil, Motrin) can cause serious harm to your pet
  • Human Foods
    • Chocolate – the darker the chocolate the more serious and potentially deadly the situation
    • Xylitol – a sweetener found in sugarless gums, candies and some peanut butters is very dangerous even in small quantities
    • Other harmful foods include grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, table salt, yeast-based dough, and avocados
  • Rodenticides
    • Mouse and rat baits – depending on the type of bait ingested, the active ingredient present can result in moderate to severe symptoms. Some of which can produce uncontrolled bleeding, swelling of the brain, seizures, or kidney and liver failure, all of which could lead to death
    • If your pet ingests the dead rodents produced from these baits, that could be potentially fatal for your pet as well.
  • Household plants
    • Lilies (all forms within the Lilly family) are highly toxic to cats. It is as simple as barely chewing on a few leaves of the plant, licking the pollen or even drinking the water in the vase that these plants are in.

How to Prevent Accidental Ingestion

The easiest way to prevent your pet from ingesting these toxins is to keep these household items properly stored away from your pet. For medications this means keeping them safely up in a medicine cabinet rather than on the bed side table, the bathroom sink or in your purse or coat pocket. The same goes for foods around the house. Keeping the food over the countertops and off the coffee table when you quickly run to the other room can prevent your curious pet from accidentally ingesting a harmful food. Not feeding them table scraps or allowing kids to feed the family dog their afternoon snack (grapes or raisins!) can help keep your pets safe as well.

Harmful mouse and rat baits should never be placed in an area that pets frequently visit or can easily get to. Dogs are especially curious to things they find on the floor and can quickly ingest these small baits which can be particularly fatal. When storing them for future use, keeping them in the garage within another container off the ground is the best way to keep your pet safe.

What to do if You Suspect Your Pet Has Ingested Something

Depending on what your pet ingested, there is a wide range of signs and symptoms you could observe in your pet.  Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, seizures, abnormal gait, difficulty breathing, pale or yellow gums, and unexplained bleeding. There is also a range of when these signs could arise from soon after ingestion to days later.

If you believe your pet has ingested something it shouldn’t have (whether you think the product is poisonous or not) immediately contact your veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. This helpline is open and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and even open on holidays. They have a highly trained staff that will be able to determine if what your pet ate is poisonous and what to do next. If the product your pet ingested is poisonous, they are even able to aid the veterinarian in appropriate treatment and management of your pet’s case.

If the recommended next step is to take your pet to an emergency clinic, see our list of recommended after-hour emergency clinics below.

IndyVet Emergency & Specialty Hospital
5425 Victory Dr
Indianapolis, IN 46203

Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Care South
4625 East Stop 11 Road
Indianapolis, IN 46237

VCA Advanced Veterinary Care Center
7712 Crosspoint Commons
Fishers, IN, 46038