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Pill bottleAlmost 60 years ago, in 1961, Congress designated the third week in March to be National Pet Poison Prevention Week. Over the years, it has expanded to the entire month of March. The goal is to make pet owners aware of the wide variety of poisons and toxic substances that pets can get into in our households and yards because awareness is the first step in preventing heartbreaking accidental poisoning.

Here at Pet Street, our most common pet poisoning emergencies include ingestion of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, as well as antifreeze, rat poison, human cardiac and cold medications, and as of recently, marijuana. We also see pets poisoned as a result of flea and tick medications being used incorrectly.

Below, we've outlined some of the most common instances of poisoning in pets we've seen:

1. NSAID poisoning

NSAID poisoning usually occurs when a pet owner believes their pet is in pain and they try to help. Unfortunately, these medications are toxic to pets. Before giving your pet any medication that is not prescribed to them, please consult your veterinarian.

2. Antifreeze poisoning

Antifreeze poisoning usually results from a spill or a puddle in the garage or driveway. If you have a spill, get a hose or a bucket of water and wash it away.

3. Rat poisoning

Rat poisoning occurs in two ways. Pets can either be poisoned by ingesting the poison, itself, or they can ingest a rodent that has eaten the poison (yuck!).

It's important to note that some newer rat poisons contain bromethalin, a neurotoxin with no known antidote. Bromethalin exposure leaves veterinarians with just hours to intervene before clinical signs associated with central nervous system edema develop.

4. Medication intended for humans

Human medication ingestion usually occurs when medications are left on a counter or table where pets can reach them. We've also seen instances in which pills were dropped or spilled when the owner was trying to dispense them (for themselves) and their pet jumped in and ate them.

5. Marijuana 

Recently, we have had a spike in pets ingesting marijuana. We expect the the number of such cases to increase with the rise of legal marijuana use. Pets typically get into marijuana by eating edibles or ingesting marijuana in another form (oil, drinks, wax, etc.). While less common, they can also be affected by secondhand marijuana smoke.

Because dogs have many cannabinoid receptors in their brains, the side effects of marijuana are typically more dramatic and potentially more harmful for them. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to/ingested marijuana, let your veterinarian know - and please be honest about it so we can give them the best care possible.

6. Flea and tick medications used incorrectly

Most common flea and tick medication issues occur when a client puts medication meant for dogs on a cat or uses the wrong dose. If you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous, call your veterinarian immediately and do not wait for symptoms to appear.

Accurate and timely identification of the suspected substance is very important. Having the container, package, or label in hand will save valuable time and may save your pet’s life, so if you know what they ingested, bring the label with you.

It's our hope that by educating pet owners about potentially harmful household items and chemicals, we'll reduce the number of pets who are accidentally poisoned.