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Poison Prevention

By Jenny Anderson
Special to Today’s News-Herald

Annually, the ASPCA posts the top pet poisons in hopes we will avoid accidentally poisoning our pets. Over the past several years human medications have topped the list. This is surprising since we usually think in terms of poisonous plants and other dangerous materials found in the pet’s environment. Pills can easily be accidently dropped when a person is planning to take them. If left unnoticed, a dog might ingest the medication, which is most often a pain pill, heart medication, or antidepressant. Dogs are masters at gobbling things up before we can even react.
This past week I encountered dropped pills at two facilities where my dog and I visit. Luckily I saw them before she did—saving her from possible accidental poisoning. Dropped medication can be found anywhere—at home or in public. I have learned to be vigilant.
Over-the-counter medications and supplements are another potential source of poisoning. Whether we keep aspirin, multivitamins, or antihistamines on hand—all can make our pets sick if they ingest them.
Insecticides are another top pet toxin. Whether the insecticides are used indoors, outdoors, or on the pet, be careful. Always carefully read the label before using them. If your yard or home is sprayed by a pest control service, be sure the surface has thoroughly dried before allowing pets on that surface. Insect dusts or pellets can be just as dangerous. Place them only where your animals do not have access to them.
Our homes house so many potentially toxic substances …many we don’t even suspect. Some products we use may not just harm pets; they can also cause sensitivities in humans. Labels should have precautions printed on them. Household toxins can range from fire logs to cleaning products.
The ASPCA lists the following as common Warm Weather Hazards:
• Animal toxins—toads, insects, spiders, snakes and scorpions
• Blue-green algae in ponds
• Citronella candles
• Cocoa mulch
• Compost piles and Fertilizers
• Flea products
• Outdoor plants and plant bulbs
• Swimming-pool treatment supplies
• Fly baits containing methomyl
• Slug and snail baits containing metaldehyde

In 2013, people foods clocked in as the fifth most common pet poison. Pets can get themselves into serious trouble by ingesting onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and the sugar substitute xylitol, among other common food items. Many diet foods and sugar-free chewing gums contain zylitol. Of course, most chocolates contain high amounts of fat and caffeine-like stimulants known as methylxanthines. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of this compound. Any food high in fats puts an animal at risk for pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition of the pancreas. This is a life-threatening condition for pets.
We also should be concerned with contaminated pet food products. The Food & Drug Administration has a pet food recall list on their website, http://www.fda.gov . If you have any doubts about the food you use, check it out online. All of us are concerned with our companion animal’s health, and being proactive concerning poisons is just another important facet of this concern.
The Western Arizona Humane Society is open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with kennel hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 855-5083 for details. To find lost pets, call 855-4111. View animals found at www.lhcpd.com.

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