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Valentine’s Day tips from Pet Poison Helpline

1pet poison hotline

Dear reader:
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought pet owners would like to check out the following information about some potential dangers to your pets. Please take a moment to read the following News Release I just received from the Pet Poison Hotline. The information may help to save your pet one of these days. /Gary

Valentine’s Day Tips from Pet Poison Helpline

Ideas for keeping pets safe from potential dangers

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and with this holiday of love comes gifts, many of which include candies and flowers. The veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline ( share some of the common culprits of pet poisonings related to these well-intentioned gifts.

“Unfortunately, some well-intentioned gifts of love can be toxic to your pets,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, and assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “Certain flowers, candy and sweeteners can be hazardous, so keeping those things out of their reach is one of the most loving things you can do for your pets this Valentine’s Day.”
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Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2012
Under: Pets, Pets & Poisons, Poison | 1 Comment »

Poison prevention: Keeping your pets safe from common household items

Family pets by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA
Kiki & Newman Xmas 12

Just got the very important news release below this morning. Please read it carefully. It could save the life of your family pet(s). /Gary

National Poison Prevention Week March 20-26

Keeping Your Pets Safe from Common Household Items

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (March 7, 2011) – For 46 years, the third week in March has been designated as National Poison Prevention Week by U.S. Public Law 87-319. This year, it is observed March 20-26. According to the National Safety Council, thousands of lives have been saved due to physical barriers like child-resistant packaging and awareness campaigns. Likewise, in recent years, the veterinarians at have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about protecting our vulnerable and unknowing pets from common household items that are highly poisonous to them.

“Every year, we receive thousands of phone calls from pet owners, veterinarians and veterinary technicians about potentially poisoned pets,” said Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC and associate director of Veterinary Services for Pet Poison Helpline. “Fifty percent of the calls are for pets that have been accidentally poisoned by something that is safe for humans, but toxic to pets. It only takes a few minutes to educate yourself on how to avoid these situations. Appropriate pet-proofing and awareness of what to do in the event of a pet poisoning situation could spare you and your pet trips to the veterinarian for expensive, but life-saving treatments.”
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Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011
Under: Pets & Poisons, Poison, Poisonous plants | No Comments »

Rodent pest control: Use caution when using poison bait

Ground squirrel. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA.
ground squirrel3

More problems with using poison to control rodents. There’s the risk of secondary poisoning of wildlife and pets as suggested in the DFG news release below. There is also the risk of direct poisoning of wildlife and pets around your house and yard when you use these poisons.

Rats and mice sometimes carry pieces of poison bait from supposedly safe bait stations used around your home and leave these pieces of poison bait lying in unprotected places in your yard or house where pets (or children!), or other wild creatures can find them.  If you must control rodents, I recommend using traps and NOT poisons. /Gary

DFG News, Aug. 17, 2010:
Wildlife Experts Issue Warning about Controlling Rodent Pests with Poison

State and county officials remind Californians to use caution when using poison baits (rodenticides) to control rodent pests. Careless use of these chemicals has injured and killed wildlife and pets throughout the state.
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Posted on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
Under: Ground squirrels, Pest control, Pesticide, Pets & Poisons, Poison, Rat poison | 3 Comments »

Pet care tips for Valentine’s Day & all year long

Jasmine the cat by Bogue

From time-to-time I get news releases sent to me that are filled with handy information that should be useful to pet owners and others. If you have a pet living with your family, I think you’ll find the information below to be very helpful. /Gary

Pet Poison Helpline has compiled a list of 14 ways pet owners can shower their pets with love and affection – not only on Valentine’s Day – but year round. From making sure pets stay fit, to keeping poisonous items out of reach, the following tips will ensure pets stay healthy and happy and will (hopefully) be around for many Valentine’s Days to come.
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Posted on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
Under: Cats, dogs, Pets, Pets & Poisons, Pets in Danger, Poison, Poisonous plants | No Comments »

Brunfelsia, “Morning, Noon & Night” plant is poisonous to pets

ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center warns pet owners about deadly plant

Since a gardener’s Eden can quickly turn to purgatory for inquisitive pets, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reminds us that many plants and flowers have the potential to cause life-threatening illnesses in both dogs and cats.

One such plant, and a favorite of many gardeners, is Brunfelsia, also known as “Morning, Noon, and Night” or “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” An ornamental plant that thrives in the gardens of warmer climates, or year-round in pots, Brunfelsia has fragrant flowers that bloom in a vivid purple and gradually change to lavender before fading to white.
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Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2008
Under: Cats, dogs, Pets, Pets & Poisons, Poisonous plants | 2 Comments »


Hey Gary:
With all this negative news on poison toys from China, Eric and I are wondering about dog toys from China. No one has said anything about them.

Dogs not only stick the toys in the mouths … they end up chewing on and swallowing pieces of the toys, etc.

Has anyone tested dog toys from China? (Paula & Eric, Pleasanton, CA)

Paulette & Eric:
I’ve searched the Internet and checked with all my sources and have found nothing about testing or recalling pet toys from China. Has anyone reading this found anything on this subject? If so, please let us know what you know by discussing it under “Comments” below.

In the meantime, here are some good sources to keep an eye on for updates on pet and human food and other product recalls:

** U.S. Food & Drug Administration Recalls, Market Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts:
** American Society for the Precention of Cruelty to Animals Pet Food Recall Resource Center:
** American Veterinary Medical Association’s Pet Food Recall Resources:

Thanks for bring this to our attention! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
Under: Pets & Poisons | No Comments »


Common yard and garden substances can be hazardous to animals who eat them
United Animal Nations (UAN), a national animal protection organization dedicated to bringing animals out of crisis and into care, has issued a list of the common summertime substances that can be hazardous to our pets.

“Many of the plants in our gardens and the products we use to care for them can cause intestinal upset and other medical complications in dogs and cats,” said UAN president and CEO Nicole Forsyth. “With summer upon us we’ll be spending more time outdoors and must make sure our pets don’t eat these dangerous and potentially lethal substances.”

Forsyth advises pet owners to prevent their pets from “dining out” on the following potentially toxic substances:

amaryllis … azaleas … clematis … daffodils … gladiolas … hibiscus … hydrangea … irises … lilies … morning glories … oleander … rhododendron … tulips … wisteria
* This list is not comprehensive but represents some of the most common plants.

antifreeze … cacao bean mulch … citronella candles … fertilizers … fly bait containing methomyl … insecticides … insect repellent containing DEET … rat bait … slug and snail baits containing metaldehyde and methiocarb … sunscreen products not specifically for animals … pool treatment supplies … weed killers

** Rat bait, which causes bleeding, and snail/slug bait, which causes violent seizures and elevated body temperature, are the two most life-threatening substances.

** Antifreeze, while not typically considered a gardening substance, can cause severe kidney failure and even small amounts can be fatal.

“Even the most well-behaved pets can get into things that are not intended to be eaten,” said UAN board member Armaiti May, DVM. “Ideally, pet guardians should avoid using any potentially toxic substances. Otherwise, these items should be placed in areas inaccessible to animals.”

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic substance, or if he or she is exhibiting symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy or excessive thirst, call your veterinarian immediately.

The life you save may be that of your beloved dog, cat or bird. /Gary

** You can find out more about United Animal Nations at

Posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2007
Under: Pets & Poisons | No Comments »

ASPCA Poison Control Center’s Top 10 Calls of 2006

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals just released the top 10 calls of 2006 for its Poison Control Center. A MUST read for all pet owners. These are emergency calls received from frantic pet owners whose pets are in trouble. You may be surprised to learn that this list reveals a significant increase in calls pertaining to common household items such as ingestion of human medication.

Here is more information on the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center.

Top 10 calls of 2006:
1. Human Medications: For several years now, this category has been number one on the ASPCA’s list of common hazards, and 2006 was no exception. Last year, more than 78,000 calls involving common human drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements were managed by the Center — a 69 percent increase over 2005. “Pet parents should never give their pet any medication without the direction of a veterinarian — just one extra-strength acetaminophen can be deadly to a cat, and just four regular-strength ibuprofen can lead to serious kidney problems in a 10-pound dog,” says Dr. Hansen. To avoid inadvertent poisoning from medications, store them in a secure cabinet above the counter and out of the reach of pets.

2. Insecticides: The APCC handled more than 27,000 cases pertaining to products used to kill fleas, ticks and other insects in 2006, up more than 28 percent from 2005. According to Dr. Hansen, “A key factor in the safe use of products that eliminate fleas, ticks and other pesky bugs, is reading and following label instructions exactly. Some species of animals can be particularly sensitive to certain types of insecticides, so it is vital that you never use any product not specifically formulated for your pet.” It is also a good idea to consult with your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.

3. Veterinary Medications: Surprising as it may seem, last year the APCC managed more than 12,000 cases involving animal-related preparations such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements — a 93 percent hike in volume. “Although these products are formulated for use in pets, it is very important to always read and follow label directions for use exactly,” says Dr. Hansen. “As with flea and tick preparations, many medications are intended for use in certain species only, and potentially serious problems could result if given to the wrong animal or at too high a dose.”

4. Plants: The number of cases involving plants also shot up by more than 111 percent in 2006 to more than 9,300. Some varieties that can be harmful to pets include lilies, azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, kalanchoe and schefflera. ”Just one or two sago palm nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and even liver failure,” says Dr. Hansen. “Also, lilies are highly toxic to cats — even in small amounts they can produce life-threatening kidney failure.” While poisonous plants should certainly be kept away from pets, it is also a good idea to discourage animals from nibbling on any variety of plant, as even non-toxic plants can lead to minor stomach upset.

5. Rodenticides: Last year, approximately 8,800 calls about rat and mouse poisons were received by the APCC, representing an increase of more than 27 percent over 2005. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets including bleeding, seizures or even damage to the kidneys or other vital organs. “Should pet owners opt to use a rodenticide around their home, they should make sure that the bait is placed only in areas completely inaccessible to their animals,” says Dr. Hansen.

6. Household Cleaners: In 2006, approximately 7,200 calls pertaining to cleaning agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants were received — up 38 percent from the year before. Says Dr. Hansen, “Depending on the circumstances of exposure, some household cleaners can lead to gastrointestinal irritation or even severe oral burns for pets.” Additionally, irritation to the respiratory tract may be possible if a product is inhaled. “All household cleaners and other chemicals should be stored in a secure location well out of the reach of pets,” recommends Dr. Hansen, “and when cleaning your pet’s food and water bowls, crate or other habitat, a mild soap such as a hand dishwashing detergent along with hot water is a good choice over products containing potentially harsh chemicals.”

7. Chocolate: Always a common food-related call, more than 4,800 chocolate calls were received by the APCC last year, an 85 percent increase from 2005. Depending on the variety, chocolate can contain large amounts of fat and caffeine-like substances known as methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, could potentially cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity. In severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures have been noted — and it could even be fatal. “Typically, the darker the chocolate, the greater the potential for poisoning,” says Dr. Hansen. “Baking chocolate contains the highest amount of methylxanthines, and just two ounces could cause serious problems for a 10-pound dog.”

8. Chemical Hazards: A newcomer to the top 10 category, this includes such harmful items as volatile petroleum-based products, alcohols, acids, and gases. In 2006, the APCC received more than 4,100 calls related to chemical hazards — an astronomical jump in call volume of more than 300 percent. “Substances in this group can cause a wide variety of problems,” Dr. Hansen explains, “ranging from gastrointestinal upset and depression to respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.” Commonly-used chemicals you should keep your pets away from include ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals.

9. Physical Hazards: While not necessarily all toxic, items in this group consists of objects that could pose a choking hazard, risk for intestinal obstruction, or other physical injury, and in 2006, the number of physical hazard calls grew a staggering 460 percent to over 3,800. “We’ve managed cases involving the ingestion of several common objects — from pet collars and adhesive tape to bones, paper products and other similar items,” says Dr. Hansen. “It is important to make sure that items which could be easily knocked over, broken, chewed up or swallowed are kept out of the reach of curious pets.”

10. Home Improvement Products: In 2006, approximately 2,100 cases involving paint, solvents, expanding glues and other products commonly used in construction were managed by the APCC — up 17 percent from 2005. While the majority of water-based paints are low in toxic potential, they can still cause stomach upset, and artist paints sometimes contain heavy metals that could be poisonous if consumed in large quantities. In addition, solvents can be very irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, eyes and skin, and could also produce central nervous system depression if ingested, or pneumonia if inhaled. “Prevention is really key to avoiding problems from accidental exposures to these substances,” says Dr. Hansen. “Pet parents should keep pets out of areas where home improvement projects are taking place, and of course label directions should always be followed when using any product.”

There’s a moral here, folks. Our pets are like little kids. Always keep an eye on them. /Gary

Posted on Monday, March 5th, 2007
Under: Pets & Poisons | 1 Comment »