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March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month

Did you know that all parts of a lily are poisonous to cats? Do you know what the top poisons are in your home?

Gardening can be a popular way pet parents spend time with their furry kids outdoors during the warmer months but when asked what they should keep pets  far away from in the yard, 64% of pet parents chose the wrong answer. “Only 34% realized cocoa mulch was toxic and only 17% knew tulip bulbs were another plant to steer pets away from,” the survey said.

Cocoa mulch is highly toxic to your pets, as are lawn and garden pesticides.


Indoor Toxins

When asked which they thought was the most likely culprit, 38% of pet parents believed plants/flowers were the main reason whereas chocolate was the actual number one offender.

According to claims data, poisoning from food or additives accounted for 46% of all poison claims in 2013 and chocolate, which falls into that category, made up 18% of all poison claims.

The second top offender inside the home is prescription drug poisoning. Prescription drug poisoning accounts  for 17%, of claims.  “Both human and pet medicines are equally dangerous and can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure, particularly in cats,” said Benson. “Remember, many determined pets will chew through pill packaging, so keep bottles, boxes and tablets in a secure spot.”

One of the most common over the counter poisoning is giving a pet acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in medications such as Tylenol. You should never give your pet anything for pain without first consulting your veterinarian.


Many common household items can pose a threat to our animal companions—even some items specifically meant for pets could cause health problems.

To protect your pet, simply use common sense and take the same precautions you would with a child.

Although rodent poisons and insecticides are the most common sources of companion animal poisoning, the following list of less common, but potentially toxic, agents should be avoided if at all possible.

  • Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol has a sweet taste that attracts animals but is deadly if consumed in even small quantities; one teaspoon can kill a seven-pound cat. The HSUS recommends pet owners use a safe antifreeze in their vehicles. Look for antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is safe for animals if ingested in small amounts. Ethylene glycol can also be found in common household products like snow globes, so be sure to keep these things out the reach of animals.
  • Cocoa mulch contains ingredients that can be deadly to pets if ingested. The mulch, sold in garden supply stores, has a chocolate scent that is appetizing to some animals.
  • Chemicals used on lawns and gardens, such as fertilizer and plant food, can be easily accessible and fatal to a pet allowed in the yard unsupervised.
  • De-icing salts used to melt snow and ice are paw irritants that can be poisonous if licked off. Paws should be washed and dried as soon as the animal comes in from the snow. Other options include doggie boots with Velcro straps to protect Fido’s feet, and making cats indoor pets.
  • Cans and garbage can pose a danger when cats or smaller dogs attempt to lick food from a disposed can, sometimes getting their head caught inside the can. To be sure this doesn’t happen, squeeze the open end of the can closed before disposing.
  • Traps and poisons Pest control companies frequently use glue traps, live traps and poisons to kill rodents. Even if you would never use such methods to eliminate rodents, your neighbor might. Dogs and cats can be poisoned if they eat a rodent who has been killed by poison (called secondary poisoning).
  • Cedar and other soft wood shavings, including pine, emit fumes that may be dangerous to small mammals like hamsters and gerbils.
  • String, yarn, rubber bands and even dental floss are easy to swallow and can cause intestinal blockages or strangulation.
  • Toys with movable parts—like squeaky toys or stuffed animals with plastic eyes—can pose a choking hazard to animals. Take the same precautions with pets as you would with a small child.
  • Rawhide dog chews may be contaminated with Salmonella, which can infect pets and humans who come in contact with the chews. This kind of treat should be offered to a pet only with supervision, as they can pose a choking hazard as well.
  • Holiday decorations and lights pose a risk to cats and dogs. Keep these items out of the reach of animals, and, if possible, confine your pet to an undecorated area while you are out of the home.
  • Fumes from nonstick cooking surfaces and self-cleaning ovens can be deadly to birds. Always be cautious when using any pump or aerosol spray around birds.
  • Leftovers, such as chicken bones, might shatter and choke a cat or dog. Human foods to keep away from pets include onions and onion powder; alcoholic beverages; yeast dough; coffee grounds and beans; salt; macadamia nuts; tomato, potato and rhubarb leaves and stems; avocados (toxic to birds, mice, rabbits, horses, cattle and dairy goats); grapes; and anything with mold growing on it