Ensure Your Pets Are Safe During National Poison Prevention Week and Every Day with Tips from Animal Behavior College

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National Poison Prevention week (March 17-23) helps to raise awareness about poison prevention nationwide. Animal Behavior College provides important information to help keep pets safe.

“Unfortunately dogs do not have the ability to differentiate between what is safe and what is dangerous for them to eat. Thus, thousands of dogs each year unknowingly ingest toxic substances and subsequently poison themselves."

This week is National Poison Prevention week, and President John F. Kennedy proclaimed it observed as the third week in March in early 1962. The goal of the week is to raise awareness about poison prevention nationwide. American poison control centers receive more than two million reported cases every year. Not only is it a time to focus on safety for adults and children, but also our beloved pets who encounter potentially dangerous situations every day. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the number of poison related cases that were reported in 2012 alone reached over 180,000.

Animals investigate the world around them through their mouth by tasting, chewing and often consuming the interesting things they find in their environment. Many of these substances are poisonous and often deadly when ingested and untreated. Debbie Kendrick, Vice President at Animal Behavior College says, “Unfortunately dogs do not have the ability to differentiate between what is safe and what is dangerous for them to eat. Thus, thousands of dogs each year unknowingly ingest toxic substances and subsequently poison themselves. In addition, loving dog owners unknowingly provide their pets with poisonous food as treats (i.e. chocolate) because they lack poison awareness knowledge.”

Here are some steps that pet owners can take to prevent their animals from ingesting poisonous substances: 1) Awareness of harmful foods, medicines, plants, pesticides, etc. 2) Making sure those substances are stored where pets cannot reach them 3) Educating family members about potentially harmful toxins 4) Training the pet

Some danger zones to be aware of:
Food: The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises pet owners to avoid feeding animals avocado, coffee, fatty foods, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, onions and onion powder, mushrooms, raisins, grapes, garlic, moldy or spoiled foods, and products containing the artificial sweetener xylitol. Raw or under cooked poultry can contain Salmonella and that can be very toxic to humans as well as animals. The ingestion of many fruit pits such as those of cherries, peaches, plums and apricots could cause intestinal blockage if ingested.

Household and garden products: Products that can be toxic to canines include automobile antifreeze (which can be sweet to the taste), snail bait, moth repellent, mulch made from cocoa bean hulls, paint and paint solvents, dish washing detergent, drain cleaner, cleanser, furniture polish, hair dye and perfume. Pencils, ink and crayons can also be toxic to animals and should be kept out of the reach of animals.

Medications: Many people are concerned for the comfort of their pets and may try to help by giving them the same over the counter pain medication that they may take themselves, such as Tylenol or acetaminophen. This product in particular damages the red blood cells of dogs and cats, causing irreversible anemia and possible death. Always consult your Veterinarian before administering any type of medication to your pets.

Keeping food, toxic items, and medications out of the reach of animals is imperative to keep them safe. If pet owners are unable to stop their pet from counter surfing or digging through trashcans, they may want to consider consulting with a professional animal trainer. Steven Appelbaum, president of Animal Behavior College has been a dog trainer for over 30 years. “Trainers can help families teach their pets to listen to obedience commands, which can help prevent them from ingesting poisonous substances. Getting the whole family involved to learn about important precautions will help save the lives of their beloved pets," says Appelbaum.

For emergency assistance (consultation fees may apply)

24/7 Pet Poison Hotline

24/7 ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Click here for more pet poison prevention information from Animal Behavior College.

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Teresa Mathers
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