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What Did We Learn During Poison Prevention Week?

Most common poisons are chocolate for dogs and lilies for cats

Congratulations. You just lived through National Poison Prevention Week.

For five decades this observation has kept people safer — or at least tried. Some always fall through the cracks.

It's no surprise Pet Poison Helpline also embraces the week to raise awareness of household items potentially harmful to our pets.

Coincidentally I also needed pet poison pointers last week, as we discovered that we share our new kitchen with a team of hungry ants.

“Place bait in areas inaccessible to children and pets,” the package said, and I did. But according to Pet Poison Helpline, the tiny bit of sweet insect attractant inside probably wouldn't cause much more than minor stomach irritation if injected. (It's the chewed up plastic bait that could do more damage.)

For those of you who Pet Poison Helpline didn't reach last week, here are some other helpful gems I discovered.

  • According to call volumes and the helpline's extensive database, the top 10 most common dog poisons are chocolate, insect bait stations, rodenticides (i.e. mouse and rat poison), fertilizers, xylitol products (i.e. sugar-free gum and candy), ibuprogen, acetaminophen, silica gel packs, amphetamines (i.e. ADD/ADHD drugs) and household cleaners. 
  • The top 10 most common cat poisons are lilies, canine pyrethroid insecticides (i.e. topital flea and tick medicine designed for dogs but erroneously placed on cats), household cleaners, rodenticides, paints and varnishes, veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, glow sticks and jewelry, amphetamines, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
  • Just one or two lily petals can be fatal to a cat.
  • Cigarette butts contain enough nicotine to poison a pet.
  • Potpourri and batteries cause serious chemical burns internally.
  • Animals may love the noise of a pill bottle as they work the pills out, or chewing your sugar-free gum, but both could be fatal. Hang your purse out of their reach.
  • Which human foods are poisonous to pets? Raisins, and several others you may not suspect.
  • A dog sipping up spilled beer may be funny, but alcoholic beverages can cause low blood sugar in pets. So... no, it's not worth the laugh.
  • Some human medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil), are extremely poisonous to pets. Believe it or not, Pet Poison Helpline receives many calls from people who accidentally gave their own medication to their pets.

So you're prepared in case of emergency, save 1-800-213-6680 to your speed dial. That's the 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center. Callers pay $39 per incident for help, including unlimited follow-up consultations — but we know that's really nothing for the service.

Meanwhile, click here for a detailed breakdown of poisonous situations by room or area, or here for the helpline's important spring cleaning time guidelines.

“It is our hope that by presenting the information in this manner, pet owners can easily go through their home and eliminate situations that could result in a very sick pet,” writes Ahna Brutlag, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline.

And did I mention that main page includes a killer poison database?

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