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Non-Toxic Pets

Protecting our pets from household poisons.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week and it’s a good time to go through our homes and backyards and make sure there aren’t any unknown poisons lurking where our pets could get into trouble. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that its Animal Poison Control Center fielded more than 165,900 phone calls about pets exposed to toxic substances last year.

Some of the culprits inside the home include prescription and over-the-counter medications, pet medications, people food and household products. The ASPCA received 25,000 calls last year about human prescription medications. Always make sure your medications are stored in a safe place away from your pets and take your medication away from where a dog could easily grab a dropped pill. Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and Tylenol can kill your pet, so keep these pills safely out of reach.

The most common people foods that get dogs or cats in trouble are chocolate and the sugar substitute, xylitol. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate and seizures in both cats and dogs. Xylitol can cause seizures and liver failure in dogs.

Other foods to keep away from pets include:

  • raisins
  • grapes
  • macadamia nuts
  • onions
  • garlic
  • cherries
  • unbaked yeast bread dough

I didn’t know about grapes being dangerous until recently. I used to give my Australian shepherd and lab mix his medicine tucked into grapes, which he loved. Now I know better! Click here to view the complete list of foods that are a no-no for pets.

The ASPCA cautions pet parents to be careful with batteries because dogs like to chew on batteries and devices such as remote controls that contain batteries. Also, keep your purse, which may contain medications or sugar-free gum, out of reach from pets.

Common household plants and flowers can be toxic to dogs and cats. For example, lilies are especially poisonous to cats. Click here to view the top 10 plants poisonous to dogs and cats. The ASPCA also has a website listing all poisonous indoor and outdoor plants.

In the yard and garage, be careful with:

  • insecticides
  • fertilizers
  • rodent bait
  • and automotive products

Rodent bait is grain based and can be attractive to dogs. Ingestion can cause internal bleeding, kidney failure or seizures. Dogs may also like the taste of certain fertilizers, such as bone meal or blood meal, so keep bags tightly sealed and out of their reach. Automotive products such as antifreeze, brake fluid and windshield cleaner, if ingested, can be life-threatening to pets, so keep well out of reach.

If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at 888-426-4435.

Pet of the Week

Meet Lucas, a distinguished looking, 6-year-old domestic short-hair mix. He’s quite handsome and an affectionate gentleman. Shelter staff members say he even gives kisses.

If you’d like to give Lucas or any other deserving cat a forever home, visit the Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority website.

About this column: This is a weekly column about your pets, trends, people and places.

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