March is National Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month. It’s an important time to go over some pet poison prevention tips to keep our cats and other animals safe.
Cats and other pets suffer from accidental poisonings all the time. Often, it’s because owners aren’t educated about what medications, chemicals, foods, drinks, and plants around the home can cause poisoning in pets.
Furthermore, many owners don’t know what to do if they suspect their cat ingested a poisonous substance.
During National Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month, help spread the word so we can educate owners and save some cats!
The Facts: What To Do If Your Cat Is Poisoned
Poisoning isn’t like in the movies where a person ingests vial of poison and, almost instantly, the results are fatal.
According to Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, “You need to act fast if you suspect your cat has eaten a poisonous or toxic substance, however, most toxins won’t activate immediately.”
Depending on the toxin, it could take up to 20 minutes or more for a reaction. The best thing to do when you suspect your cat ingested poison is to call your pet’s veterinarian immediately.
If it is a weekend or after hours and your veterinarian’s practice is closed, you can call an emergency vet in your area.
You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 1-888-426-4435. The call is toll-free call; however, a consultation fee may be charged to your credit card. They may be able to help you or put you in touch with an emergency veterinary clinic near your home.
You won’t have to break any speeding laws to get your cat to the emergency veterinarian. “Still, you should act quickly,” said Dr. Wismer. “To save time, have the number of a nearby emergency veterinary clinic close by in case of an emergency.”
Spring Can Bring Poisonous Plants
It’s fitting that Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month comes along with the start of spring. When the weather gets warmer, the number of calls to the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center rises.
“We usually get about 600 calls a day in the winter,” said Dr. Wismer. “That number increases in the summer; we get up to 800 calls a day then.”
Dr. Wismer suspects the increase of calls results from our being outdoors and around plants, herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides. Outdoor cats may be more at risk of exposure. However, if you store lawn and garden chemicals indoors, your indoor cat could also be in danger.
If you come across a plant that you can’t identify, Dr. Wismer recommends using the camera on your cell phone to take a photo of it and ask your vet, or look it up online. You should especially check before bringing any houseplants into your home.
The ASPCA also has a Poison Prevention App that provides you with life-saving information. The app is free and can be downloaded here. Also, the ASPCA site has information about poisonous plants, what to do if you think your pet swallowed a poisonous substance, and general safety tips.
Chocolate And Medications Can Kill
The number one substance that the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center gets the most calls about is chocolate; large amounts of chocolate can be lethal to both dogs and cats.
“We also get a lot of calls about ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other over-the-counter drugs,” says Dr. Wismer. “People leave those small pill bottles on a counter that a dog or cat can easily get to.”
It’s always a good idea to poison-proof your home and educate yourself on what can be toxic to your pets.
It’s important to keep all medications in a cabinet that is out of your pet’s reach. “Think of pets almost like toddlers,” says Dr. Wismer. “Everything that is dangerous should be out-of-reach.”
That includes houseplants too, which can be a favorite of cats. When it comes to houseplants, it’s necessary to keep all toxic plants out of your cat’s reach.
“If you get a plant that you think may be harmful to your cat, put it in a locked room, and bring it to work with you so you and your co-workers will enjoy it,” said Dr. Wismer. “This way it is away from your cat.”
It’s a smart idea to check out the ASPCA’s Poison Prevention information before you need it. This way you will be prepared for any possible poison related crisis and able to act swiftly to save your pet.
What other tips do you have for preventing poisoning in cats? Will you help spread the word during National Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month? Let us know in the comments below!