Letter from the staff – Poison Prevention Month

Hi folks, March 15-21st is Poison Prevention Week but we have decided to extend this to the full month of March!

Did you know that each year, the ASPCA (Animal Poison Control Center) manages more than 180,000 cases of animal poisonings? That’s only what is reported! Just imagine how many cases go through vet clinics or worse, remain unreported.
Prevention is the best way to reduce the risk. Similar to the way that we take steps to protect young children from the dangers of harmful substances, we must also protect our pets. Your pet has no concept of what it can and cannot eat, in fact it is easier to assume your pet can and will eat anything! (even though a human brain will try and reconcile this fact)

The top 5 most common household products involved in poisoning cases:
Prescription/over-the-counter drugs (both human and animal)
Insecticides and insect control products (including certain flea treatments)*
Common household plants
Chemical bait products used for rodents
Common household cleaners

*Flea Products:
While all flea products carry a possibility of risk, some are far more dangerous than others. According to data collected by The United States’ EPA, products containing pyrethroids/permethrins (over the counter flea products such as Hartz and Zodiac) are responsible for at least 1,600 pet deaths between the years 2003-2008 (keep in mind, this is only what has been reported to the EPA). In addition, pyrethroid spot-ons contribute to more than half of ‘major’ pesticide pet reactions (‘major’ being incidents involving serious medical reactions such as brain damage, heart attacks, and violent seizures) in comparison to non-pyrethroid spot on treatments, which accounted for only about 6 percent.

Symptoms of poisoning by flea/tick treatments may include salivating, dilated pupils, tremors, vomiting, hiding, shivering, and skin irritation. If you suspect your pet may have suffered negative health effects as a result of a flea product, call us at 368-7981 immediately; this is considered an emergency situation.
If you decide to use flea products, here are some guidelines to help prevent problems:

  • Never use dog treatments on cats, and vice versa
  • Always be certain of your pet’s weight before purchase (to ensure proper dosage)
  • Avoid splitting one “large dog” dose in half for two small dogs or vice versa without consulting a veterinarian. If your dog is outside the weight range for treatment, consult your veterinarian.
  • Read and follow all instructions when using these products
  • Consult your veterinarian before using flea products on young or elderly animals, especially those with preexisting conditions.

We value flea products that are effective and as safe as possible. We maintain close relationships with the drug companies that supply these products and representatives routinely visit our clinic to present their findings. We trust their research is invested in producing effective flea prevention that is low risk. If you have any questions about flea prevention/products or you would like to know more about the products we provide, please don’t hesitate to ask a receptionist or give us a call, we will be happy to help!

Some insight into the treatment of toxicity cases:

Toxicity cases are treated in different ways depending on the toxin in question, the animal, the veterinarian, etc. If you suspect your pet has ingested a harmful substance, you should call a veterinarian immediately; time is crucial. Your veterinarian may ask you to induce vomiting at home (depending on how much time has passed since ingestion or what substance was ingested). NEVER induce vomiting without contacting your vet or a poison helpline first. Some substances are caustic and can cause further damage when ejected from the body. This is extremely important.

When the substance is unknown, keep in mind that it may be necessary to perform additional diagnostics to try and determine a specific treatment protocol. If you have any information about the ingested substance such as packaging, instructions etc. please bring it with you to the clinic.

Induce vomiting and/or activated charcoal:

We normally induce vomiting using a drug called Apomorphine; a small tablet that is placed under the lower eyelid. Not only is this safe and effective, it is also less stressful for your pet. Activated charcoal is ingested to help neutralize caustic toxins in the stomach and prevent their absorption into the body. Sometimes we use a combination of both.

Blood testing is useful in determining the effects on your pet’s internal organs. This will help us resolve how severe the toxicity is and assist in pinpointing necessary treatments if you are unsure what has been ingested, etc. Bloodwork is normally repeated over time to track whether or not the condition is improving.

Fluid therapy:

Toxicity creates electrolyte disturbances and may cause a lack of appetite. As a result, it will become increasingly important to keep your pet well-hydrated in addition to keeping their urinary system stimulated to flush the toxins from the body.


While it can be difficult having your animal away from home, it is safer and more efficient to keep them in the hospital where we can respond to their needs easily. (Don’t worry, “give lots of love” is always in our treatment plan!)

Vitamin Supplements:

Some toxins (like the ones found in rat poison) require supplemental Vitamin K in order to restore natural body processes such as blood clotting factors.

As veterinary healthcare providers, it is our responsibility to protect your pet’s health and well-being. However, our care can only extend so far; Prevention and safety outside the clinic is largely the responsibility of the pet owner. Providing education and tools to our clients is essential in ensuring that level of care extends beyond our doors. Thank-you for being the excellent pet owner that you are and thanks for reading!

All of the above web resources are provided by the ASPCA.

Written by Kenneth G