Next week, March 18-24, is the 50th anniversary of Poison Prevention Week, marking five decades of safer homes and saved lives for both two-legged and four-legged domestic mammals alike!

While much of the nationally-recognized effort has been directed toward humans, Pet Poison Helpline (1-855-213-6680) reminds us of how to keep our four-legged friends safe too.

But first, a shout out to Pet Poison Helpline for providing easy tips on how to pet-proof the house, room by room, in this two-part series.

Poisons in the Living Room

  • Before you bring any flowers, plants, or bouquets into your house, take heed. There are two really dangerous — and potentially deadly — plants that are poisonous to pets: lilies (in cats) and sago palm (in dogs). Make sure to keep all household plants and bouquets out of your house unless you have confirmed that they are non-toxic.
  • Most people aren’t aware that simmer pots of liquid potpourri, when ingested by cats, are poisonous and will result in chemical burns to the mouth.
  • Birds are extremely sensitive to Teflon, aerosols, and any heavily fragranced products; don’t use them around caged birds.
  • Smoking can kill your pet too! Keep ashtrays and smoking cessation products (like nicotine chewing gum, lozenges or patches) out of reach. Even cigarette butts contain enough nicotine to cause poisoning in pets.
  • Batteries are commonly found in the living room (in remote controls, cell phones, etc.). When ingested, they can cause serious chemical burns in dogs.
  • Don’t forget about all those poisons in your purse! Dogs like to dig through purses and backpacks, which often contain potential pet poisons like over the counter (OTC) and prescription medications, cigarettes, or sugar-free gum with xylitol.

Poisons in the Kitchen

  • Common human foods that are poisonous to dogs and cats include raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, unbaked yeast bread dough, fatty foods, chocolate, and moldy food/compost. Check out all the human foods that are toxic to pets.
  • Keep garbage cans secured behind closed doors or cabinets. Trash and compost bins can contain many pet toxins, such as cigarette butts, coffee grounds, moldy foods and bones.

Poisons in the Bathroom

  • While your pet can’t open the bathroom cabinet, the prevalence of both OTC and prescription medications in the household has resulted in severe poisoning in pets. Keep these medications, along with asthma inhalers and dietary supplements, safely locked up in secure cupboards. Do not leave them on countertops or tables where your pet can easily ingest them. Never store pills in plastic zippered baggies, as these can be easily chewed through.
  • Never medicate your pets with human products without first contacting and getting approval from your veterinarian. Some common human medications such as naproxen (Aleve), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) are extremely poisonous to pets. Just one Tylenol can kill a cat.
  • Pet Poison Helpline gets calls daily from pet owners who have mistakenly given their own human medication to their pets, and have accidentally taken their pets' medication. Always take the extra ten seconds to read the label on the pill container to make sure it’s the correct medication. When in doubt, store your own medications in the bathroom, and your pet’s in the kitchen so there’s never any confusion.
  • Keep pets away from cleaning products. Keep pets out of the room while using bathroom cleansers or other cleaning products. And men — pay heed — always put the toilet lid down! This will prevent your pet from drinking the water, especially important if you use automatic chemical tank or bowl treatments.

Next week, a few other rooms in the house to know about when it comes to pet-proofing!

Dr. Justine Lee

Image: lily and the lilies by Samantha Forsberg / via Flickr