Dog Poison Prevention and Safety

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Every dog owner dreads the thought of their pet being poisoned. The good news is that most cases of pet poisoning are preventable with a little forethought and preparation.

"The baits used to attract and kill rodents smell and taste very good to dogs as well."

The Top Ten Substances That Poison Pets

According the Animal Poison Control Center, the substances that most frequently sickened pets in 2009 were:

  1. Human Medications – Dogs can chew through plastic pill containers so keep prescriptions and over the counter drugs in an inaccessible location. If you drop pills, find them before your dog does.
  2. Insecticides – The misuse of flea and tick control medications is widespread. Follow the directions on the label closely. When using an insecticide in the house or yard, keep pets away from the area for the recommended period of time.
  3. Human food – Most dog owners know that chocolate can be toxic to dogs, but did you know that grapes, raisins, avocados, and xylitol (a sugar substitute often used in gum) can be just as dangerous? Never feed your dog human food without first being absolutely sure that it is safe for him.
  4. Plants – Landscape or house plants can be poisonous to pets when ingested. Lilies, sago palms, azaleas and rhododendrons are frequent culprits. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has put together a list of toxic and safe plants for dogs.
  5. Pet Medications – Keep your dog's medications safely locked away. Many are flavored to make them appealing to pets, and overdoses can be fatal.
  6. Rodenticides – The baits used to attract and kill rodents smell and taste very good to dogs as well. Never use these chemicals anywhere that a dog can reach them.
  7. Cleaning Solutions – Bleach, detergents and other cleaners and disinfectants can make dogs sick when they are ingested or inhaled.
  8. Heavy Metals – Lead in old paint, zinc in pennies, and other sources of heavy metals can sicken and kill dogs that eat them.
  9. Lawn and Garden Products – Look for warnings regarding pet exposure on fertilizers and other chemicals used in the yard.
  10. Miscellaneous Chemicals – this category includes antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol, paint thinner, drain cleaners, etc.

Poison Prevention

Protecting dogs from potential poisons is not always easy, but it is an essential part of being a good pet "parent." First of all, know what you have in your house and yard. If you find that your dog has access to poisonous plants, consider removing them, fencing them off, or placing them in a part of the house where your dog cannot go. Keep all medications, household cleaners, insecticides, rodenticides, lawn care products, and other chemicals behind closed and preferably locked doors.

When out and about with your dog, keep him on a leash. Teach him the command "drop it" so that if he does pick something up, you can stop him from swallowing it, no matter how tasty it seems to him.

Veterinary Care for Accidental Poisonings

First Aid

If your dog does get into something, call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center (1 888 426 4435). They may direct you to induce vomiting, so keep 3% hydrogen peroxide and a turkey baster or large syringe in your first aid kit. Never induce vomiting without first speaking to a veterinarian. Depending on what your dog has gotten into, vomiting may or may not be in his best interest.

The Animal Poison Control Center's hot line is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by veterinarians and veterinary toxicologists who, for a $65 dollar fee, can guide you and your veterinarian through the appropriate treatment for your dog. Keep the phone number handy because in most cases of pet poisoning, the sooner treatment is started, the better a dog's chances of survival.

The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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