Pet Poison Prevention and Intervention

Pet Poison Prevention Tips

Our pets are not able to distinguish between safe objects and non safe objects so it’s up to us to keep them safe. March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month and March 15 – 21 is Poison Prevention Week, so there is no better time to talk about this subject than now.

There is a great deal we can do to prevent our pets from being poisoned. First and foremost, be diligent about putting all medications out of sight and out of reach of your pets.  A bored and determined dog can accomplish feats we would never dream of, so better to be safe than sorry.  Make sure household cleaners are safely stored too.

Think about how you might keep a human toddler safe and you have the right idea.  Just remember that although you would not leave a toddler unsupervised, most pets spend a great deal of time every day unsupervised. That means the garbage needs to be empty or made inaccesible to your dog.  For some strange reason the Harwell family dogs like to eat tissues not to mention food wrappers that smell yummy. So we have learned to put a heavy coaster on top of the tissue box and to keep our bathroom doors shut.  We reommend that you keep your toilet lids down or close the bathroom door if your pets like to drink from the toilet.  This is especially true if you use bleach tablets in your toilet tank.  Learn the foods and beverages, houseplants and garden plants  that are off limits for dogs and cats and keep those out of sight and out of reach of your pets. We have tragically read about dogs and cats that have been poisoned by houseplants.      poisonous plants 8648213_f520

It’s much better to be safe than sorry.  Prevention is always preferred to assessment and treatment.  Calls to the  Pet Poison Helpline cost $49.00 not to mention the damage your pet may have already suffered and the worry you may feel.  Calls to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control cost $65.00.

Pet Poison Helpline

Pet Poison Helpline

As professional pet sitters we review safey tips with pet parents when go on our consultation visit. We recommend that all non safe items be out of reach of your pets.  Although they may be fine when you are home on your normal schedule, your cats and dogs sense the difference when you are away several days or more.  Even though we are making frequent visits to your home, your pets may become bored, so we recommend placing all medications in a cupboard your pets cannot access.

 What To Do If You Suspect Your Pet Has Ingested A Poinsonous Substance

Possible signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, trouble breathing, over excitement, loss of consciousness or seizures. It’s important to get veterinarian help quickly, and remember information is powerful.

  • First and foremost, stay calm and keep your pet as calm as possible.
  • Try to determine what the poisonus substance may have been, gather up any suspicious wrappers and if your pet has vomited or had diarrhea gather some of the fluids in a clean container.
  • Try to determine the approximate time your pet ingested the poison.
  • Call the veterinarian or poison control center for first aid instructions.  Never induce vomiting without being instructed to do so by a veterinarian or animal poison control expert. (If the substance is acid or a strong alkali or petroleum based, you should not induce vomiting).
  • If the substance is toxic or corrosive and on the pet’s body, brush it off and then rinse with lots of cold water.
  • Transport to the nearest veterinary hospital for veterinary assessment and treatment.

A handy aid with these instructions can be found in the Pet Tech PetSaver App  for your smart phone. The app includes a handy link to nearby veterinary hospitals and emergecny veterinary hospitals in case you are traveling or the pet poisoning occurs after typical hospital hours.

Want to Know More About Care for Your Pets

We don’t know any pet parent that doesn’t want to protect his or her four legged family members.  It’s a great idea to take a pet first aid and CPR class so you can feel and be prepared in an emergency situation.  That’s why we both took the Pet Tech PetSaver class when we had an opportunity. We were so impressed with all we learned that Billy took a three day class to become an instructor.  If you want to know about Pet Tech, click here.  If you want to register for the next class click here.  Classes are scheduled for March 21, April 18, and June 6, 2015.

 

 

Related Articles

Pet Death and Grief

Beau the Snow Dog in his prime

Beau the Snow Dog in his prime

Dealing with Pet Death and Grief

 

Losing a beloved pet is so very hard. We are sharing some general tips along with a bit of our journey in hopes that our experiences will be helpful to you.

As a licensed clinical social worker in a local hospice agency I know that everyone’s grief journey is personal and individual. What is right for you may not be right for me. The beauty of the journey is that we each get to make our own choices.

We had no idea how hard it is until last May when our precious Beau was diagnosed with lymphoma. He was just two days short of his 8th birthday when he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and we had just under two weeks to adjust to the idea. By the time he was diagnosed he was pretty far along. When he vomited every meal for two days it was time to take him to our vet.

The initial impression was that he either had a “dietary indiscretion”, pancreatitis or something wrong with his liver. We were given pain meds and prednisone and strongly encouraged to take him to the specialty vet clinic for an ultrasound. We followed up the next day. When the vet told us that Beau had lymphoma I almost fell to the floor. A co-worker’s Golden Retriever had died from lymphoma less than a year earlier and I knew instantly what was going to happen. They told us that dogs can go into remission from lymphoma with chemo and that chemo is not as difficult on a dog as it is on a human. The goal is remission, not cure. We chose to manage the remainder of Beau’s days with comfort directed care. For us that was the right decision. We would have felt selfish to put Beau through any amount of discomfort. For others, we know the decision to treat is the right one. Neither of us can stand in judgment on the other.

While at the specialty clinic I went into the ladies room and sobbed as quietly as I could. That night we invited Beau up on the bed with us. As I tried to go to sleep my mind and heart kept going to the sadness until once again my body was wracked with sobs. I sobbed so hard and so loud that Beau got off the bed never to get on it again.

We strongly advocated for all the comfort measures possible for Beau and felt that we had done for him the best we could do. I dropped out of training for my first half marathon to spend more time with him. We took him on car rides, to our favorite restaurant, for one last hike at Lake Norman State Park and on lots of hikes in our woods. We took video and still pictures of him. And we told him endlessly how much we loved him.

Beau at the restaurant at the lake

Beau at the restaurant at the lake

He declined much more quickly than we had anticipated. It was torture watching him try to poop and not be able to. We called the vet and learned that canned pumpkin helps with constipation.  So we fed him canned pumpkin. Next he lost his appetite (he was a large Brittany who weighed 50 pounds and loved to eat). We tried everything except standing on our heads to get him to eat. We did learn that he liked cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt. Who knew??? But what he ate at one meal was untouchable at the next meal. We bought very expensive highly palatable canned dog food and sometimes he ate it and sometimes he did not. We cooked veggies and sometimes he ate them and sometimes he did not. Once again we called the vet; this time about his poor appetite. The vet recommended that we back off on his pain meds. But when we did that he just shook from the pain.

Meanwhile I had been researching cures for cancer in dogs along with searching for vets who made home visits for the purpose of euthanasia. We did not want to go to the vet’s office to “put him down.”   While I researched these items Billy dug the grave in our woods. On Beau’s final night with us I looked into his eyes and told him what a good boy he had always been. I told him how much we loved his desire and need to run and be independent. And I told him we would not let him suffer anymore. I told him that I would talk to his Daddy the next day and we would let him go.

Beau's last day

Beau’s last day

On Beau’s last day with us he went on a hike with his Daddy and brother Luke in the woods. We had called the vet (we chose Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice for Beau) and made an appointment. We let Luke wait inside the house and we went outside where Beau was hanging out under his favorite tree next to his wading pool. That is where we said goodbye to him. We were there holding his paw, stroking his head and telling him how much we loved him during his final moments on this earth. We let Luke come out to say goodbye and let Luke watch us wheel Beau in our wheelbarrow to his grave. We laid him to rest with a blankie, a tennis ball and a dog cookie (three of his favorite things). As always Beau was good for a laugh. We had a large tarp under him and used that to lift his body from the wheelbarrow into the grave. As we slipped the tarp out from under him he rolled over and over into the grave. Only our thunder-chasing Beau could do something like that. We covered him with landscape cloth because Daddy could not stand to throw dirt on his face. Together we shoveled the earth over him and piled rocks to mark the grave. It is odd, I am not a grave visitor. But I visit Beau’s grave frequently.

At several points during this process I found myself feeling guilty for feeling his loss so intensely……..maybe more so than even when my parents died. Now don’t get me wrong. I grieved mightily for both my parents, but never did cry. In searching for answers to these strange feelings I discovered other writings that suggested it is not abnormal to grieve so intensely about our pets. After all, they love us unconditionally and never do anything to hurt us intentionally. We tell them things we might not tell humans. They bring laughter to our lives every day. I felt better with those explanations.

Fortunately the intensity did not last nearly as long as my grief over my parents and my healing journey has been peaceful and strong. I still miss Beau every day and know there will never be another dog like him. I visit his grave whenever I want, look at his picture daily and stroke his fur and collar whenever I want.  I talk about him with my husband and Luke.  And I tell our two new rescues Daisy and Trooper all about him.  Poor dogs; they probably have a complex after hearing so much about Beau!!  These are the things that have worked for us.  We hope the tips listed below will be of help to you on your grief journey.

1.  Talk to your pet and tell him how much you love him
2.  Tell your pet goodbye
3.  Keep your pet’s remains in an urn or bury her body where you can visit
4.  Keep a picture and other mementos (we have a clay paw print, a swatch of his fur, his      picture and his collar)
5.  Talk to and with others who have lost a beloved pet
6.  Go on regular walks where you and your fur-baby used to walk
7.  Consider adopting another pet in his honor (we adopted Daisy Mae and now are fostering Trooper with a plan to adopt him)
8.  Volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter
9.  Volunteer for a pet rescue organization
10. Advocate with your state and federal representatives for the elimination of puppy mills and the elimination of breed specific bans
11. Advocate for the end of gas chambers for dogs and cats in local shelters
12. Contribute to funds for low-cost spay and neuter programs to end pet over-population
13. Advocate for the end of lab experiments on dogs
14. Our favorite one is to start a pet related business. Our loss led us to this one and now we get to play with numerous cats and dogs on a regular basis. Now that is a win-win situation!

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