Did you know March is Pet Poison Prevention Month? Would you know what to do if your animal ingested something poisonous? Can you recognize when your furry friend is feeling good versus when they don’t seem themselves or look unwell?
If there are no signs of illness
The first thing you need to do if you suspect your furry friend has ingested something poisonous, but they are not showing signs of illness, is to stay calm. An upset or frantic parent can agitate their animal and exacerbate the situation. The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society urges caregivers to contact their local veterinarian, veterinary hospital, or 24-hour emergency poison hotline such as the 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center at 855-764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at 1-888-426-4435 (fees may apply), to determine if the substance your animal ingested is harmful. Not all exposure situations mean your furry friend needs to be seen by a veterinarian.
If you see unusual signs/symptoms
If your companion animal is exhibiting any unusual signs, such as having difficulty breathing, seizures, or losing consciousness, then your animal requires immediate treatment. If your regular veterinary clinic is closed, immediately find a pet hospital that is open after-hours. It is always useful to have the phone number and address of the veterinary hospital or after-hours clinic that is closest to your house in the event you are faced with an emergency.
It is also helpful to attending veterinarians if you are able to provide symptoms you observed, as well as the chemical ingested, the amount of the product, and the time elapsed since exposure (if known).
As always, practicing prevention is paramount to your animal’s well-being. Be sure to keep chemicals and cleaning products safely stored in locations where your curious critter won’t stumble upon them in their travels around your house. Also be aware of any containers or packaging that may be leaking or dirty with the chemical it contains.
Common household items to keep stored away from your animals include:
- Any prescription or OTC drugs such as painkiller and cold medications
- Insecticides and insect control products
- Certain household plants
- Chemical baits for mice and other small rodents
- Cleaning products such as disinfectants, bleaches and detergents
- Common household foods that are harmful to dogs and cats
If you want to learn more about how to keep your animal safe from poisoning, check out the ASPCA’s page on Animal Poison Control.