Pets Run Risk of Being Poisoned in the Home

From Associated Press

Your home may be hazardous to your pet's health. Poisons lurk in your bathroom, kitchen, garage and shop. Playful and curious, many pets leap tall counters in a single bound, paw open cabinets, chew through child-proof caps and containers and have the judgment of a 2-year-old child, says Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Consider that cats and dogs roam the house unsupervised for hours, and you'll understand why they are especially at risk of being poisoned--unless you properly safeguard them. Here are some suggestions:

* Put any substances that you'd consider hazardous to a toddler out of your pet's reach. This includes medications, cleaning products, household and garden chemicals, insect and rodent killers and automotive products.

* Keep pets out of areas where you're working with chemicals, and store those substances properly. In the few moments while you dash to answer the telephone, your pet could sample the paint remover, bleach or antifreeze.

A surprisingly small amount of these substances can harm your pet. According to Dr. Steve Hansen of the National Animal Poison Control Center, one teaspoon of undiluted antifreeze can kill a 7-pound cat.

* Be careful of any new item you bring home. Pets, like children, are curious. They tend to investigate when they're alone and bored.

* Prescription safety. Although other items are more toxic to pets than human over-the-counter and prescription medications, cats and dogs often have easy access to drugs. A single extra-strength acetaminophen tablet can harm your cat.

* Never give your cat medicine intended for dogs, and vice versa, unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian. Follow directions on veterinary medications, especially flea and tick products. Cats are extremely sensitive to flea and tick treatments.

Be alert to such seasonal hazards as Easter lilies. And, anytime of year, keep chocolate where Fido can't reach it. Gobbled in sufficient quantities, the sweet treat can kill a dog.

* Keep your pet's age, activity level and breed characteristics in mind as you check your home for poisonous possibilities. Be extra careful with puppies and kittens and very active breeds, because they are more likely to get into mischief as they bound from one activity to another. Young and old animals and those with diseases are most at risk.

* No matter how careful you are, your pet may still consume something harmful. Although vomiting is the most common symptom, you also should suspect poisoning if your pet has diarrhea, refuses to eat or shows a sudden change in behavior, such as listlessness.

* Pet hot line. Veterinary health professionals staff the National Animal Poison Control Center 24 hours a day. If you can't reach your veterinarian or other local expert, call (900) 680-0000. You'll pay $2.95 per minute.

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