Friday, February 15, 2008

ASPCA Reminds Pet Parents: Protect Your Pet from Perilous Poisons
Animal Poison Control Center Updates Top Toxins for Pets, Tips to Keep Pets Safe

NEW YORK-Has your dog ever chomped on chocolate? Does your kitty like to snack on plants? In observance of National Poison Prevention Week (March 16 to March 22), the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) sheds light on the most common dangers pets may encounter, and offers helpful advice for poison-proofing your home.

"National Poison Prevention Week is an opportune time to educate pet owners about the many toxic substances that can harm our pets," said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. "Our animal companions depend on us to be informed and protect them from danger."

In 2007, the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Ill. managed more than 130,000 cases. The public utilized the APCC's 24-hour hotline with emergency and non-emergency inquiries alike. Last year, the Center also played a critical role in keeping pet parents, veterinarians, and the American public accurately informed during last year's pet food recall crisis, which began in March and lasted several months.

The top calls of 2007 involved the following common household goods and products:

1. Just Say No to Drugs: With a whopping 89,000 calls related to the unhappy combination of pets and medications such as painkillers, cold and flu preparations and antidepressants, the ASPCA cautions pet owners to never give their four-legged family members any type of medication without first talking with a veterinarian. Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs-whether for humans or pets--should be kept out of reach, preferably in closed cabinets above countertops.

2. Bugged out: In the effort to battle home invasions by unwelcome pests, our furry friends could be unintentionally put at risk from certain insecticides. In fact, more than 26,000 calls to the Center pertained to insect control products such as flea and tick preparations, insect baits and spray killers. "A key factor in the safe use of products that eliminate fleas, ticks and other pesky bugs is reading and following label instructions exactly," said Dr. Steven Hansen, board-certified veterinary toxicologist and director of the APCC. "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. Don't Eat the Daisies: In 2007, common household plants such as lilies, azaleas and kalanchoe, were the subject of more than 8,000 calls to the poison center. Other varieties that can be harmful to pets include rhododendron, sago palm, and schefflera. "Just one or two sago palm nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and even liver failure," said Dr. Hansen. "Also, lilies are highly toxic to cats - even in small amounts they can produce life-threatening kidney failure."

4. Don't Take the Bait: Insects are not the only critters that can invade our dwellings -so can mice, rats and other rodents. But before you rush out to buy a chemical bait product, it is important to be aware of the risks they can pose to your pet - last year, the Center handled approximately 7,600 queries about these baits. "Some baits contain inactive ingredients meant to attract rodents, which can be attractive to pets as well," said Dr. Hansen. "That's why it's so important, when using any rodenticide, to place the product in areas that are completely inaccessible to companion animals."

5. Mind the Mop: While many cleaning products can be used safely in homes where pets reside, it is still important to take the necessary precautions to protect furry family members from accidental overexposures to common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. In 2007, the Center assisted 7,200 callers with concerns involving common household cleaners. Gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the skin, eyes or respiratory tract may be possible if a curious animal has an inappropriate encounter with such products. "All household cleaners and other chemicals should be stored in a secure location well out of the reach of pets," recommended Dr. Hansen. "As with any product, it is extremely important to read and follow all label directions before use."

Established in 1978, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is the only 24-hour, 365-day facility of its kind staffed by 30 veterinarians, 12 of who are board-certified toxicologists/veterinary toxicologists. Located in Urbana, Ill., the specially trained staff provides assistance to pet owners, and specific diagnostic and treatment recommendations to veterinarians pertaining to toxic chemicals and dangerous plants, products or substances. The Center also provides extensive veterinary toxicology consulting on a wide array of subjects, including legal cases, formulation issues, product liability, and regulatory reporting. For more information on potentially dangerous substances in the home or to reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, please call (888) 426-4435 or visit

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