Monday, March 21, 2011

Pet Poisoning Prevention Week!

March 20 through March 26 is National Poison Prevention Week. (Yeah, I know I said "pet ..." above, but I guess it applies to people too.) The Animal Poison Control Help Center has a very good page about National Poison Prevention Week and keeping our pets safe from common household chemicals.

What I didn't know is that National Poison Prevention Week has apparently been going on for over 46 years! This is kind of a shock to me ... not that it's been going on for that long, but I can't recall that I've ever heard about it! I can remember poison awareness things in school (along with atomic attack drills where they would have us all go outside - even back then that didn't make any sense), but I don't think there was any emphasis on a particular week. But now that I know about it ... I guess I should observe it. That being said, I promise to not poison any of the neighbors during this week! (Naww ... just kidding - I don't usually go around poisoning people anyway.)

But, I will say that accidental poisoning of a pet can be a very serious issue for a pet owner. I mean we all know that, for the most part, our pets will die at some time. This is something every pet owner must face ... it's not a pleasant thing to contemplate for certain, but it is, after all, the natural progression of things. But having a pet die from old age or even disease is not the same as having it die because we left an antifreeze spill in the driveway. It is quite traumatic to the owners to lose a pet to an accidental poisoning, usually more so than losing them to natural causes.

Many years ago my wife and I had moved from Norfolk, Virginia to San Diego, California. We had a pet budgerigar which we had gotten as our first pet for our first anniversary. She was a lovely pale blue with yellow on her head. We were used to letting our little feathered child out of her cage when we were around the house so she could enjoy being with us and stretch her wings a bit. What we didn't know was that the apartment we were moving in to had been treated for insects by spraying an insecticide along the baseboards before we moved in. It was the second night we were there that we discovered it. She was dead in minutes. That was over 30 years ago, but it still causes a tinge of sadness.

I think most pet owners are aware of the dangers of antifreeze poisoning. But it is something to keep in mind all the same. A few tablespoons of antifreeze can kill a medium-sized dog within a very few days. A couple of teaspoons for a cat. As some of you know, one of my best friends is a veterinarian. Almost every single time a client has brought in a pet which has ingested antifreeze, he has not been able to save them. A quick search of the Internet for "antifreeze poisoning" will find you hundreds of articles, all of which say the same thing; after your pet ingests antifreeze, your vet must start treatment within the first few hours.

Many other things common around the house can be very hazardous to pets. Things that we may not even think about. "" has a pretty good list of common hazards for dogs. Most of us probably know that chocolate can be dangerous to your dog's health. But did you know that other common foods such as raisins or onions can be harmful to your furry friends? These, and several other human-food toxins, are also covered at the Pet Poison Control Center. Watch your houseplants and your garden too! There are several plants and flowers that can make your dog or cat quite ill.

The bottom line is that we love our pets. For many of us (myself included) they are like our children. We want them to be happy and healthy and safe. We know they age much faster than us and we accept that. But losing one to an accidental poisoning is a very hard thing. So please watch them as much as possible ...

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