Preventing Pet Poisoning


On occasion, I’ve been known to drop an ibuprofen or one of those small red pseudoephedrine pills on the floor.  Being a neatnik, I immediately retrieve and toss it in the garbage.  Don’t want my cats playing with a stray pill.  I was not as concerned with my kitties licking or eating the pill as I was with them batting it under the stove to never be found.

As it turned out, my neatnik ways may have saved my cats from poisoning.  According to the ASPCA, ingestion of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or ibuprofen, is the most common cause of pet poisonings — potentially causing stomach and intestinal ulcers.  In cats, that magic pain reliever damages their kidneys.                 

Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is especially bad for cats — damaging red blood cells.  Some of the side effects people experience when taking pseudoephedrine, such as elevated heart rate or seizures, can wreak havoc with your pet’s body.

National Poison Prevention week is March 18 -24.  Some of the tips to keep children safe also apply to our pets.  Knowing what may be harmful to your pet is the first step in ensuring his or her long, healthy life.  The second is keeping curious pets away from things that can harm them.

1)      Always read instructions and use medications/products properly.

2)      Only give your pet medications made for pets (or at the direction of your veterinarian).

3)      Keep medications and other potentially toxic products ( out of reach.  That means inside a cabinet they cannot paw open, and containers that cannot be easily chewed opened.

4)      Properly dispose of old, expired medication — please not in the garbage easily knocked over by your dog.

5)      Clean up spills of toxics or medications (also pick up any pill dropped on the floor, which looks like candy to kids and pets).

6)      Create a poison first aid kit.  A great list is at

Don’t wait if you suspect your pet has ingested something potentially poisonous; contact the emergency vet immediately.  Indications of poison can include vomiting, hyper drooling, pale gums, weakness, or abnormal behavior.

Over 167,000 calls came in to the ASPCA Poison Control Center in 2010.  Of those, nearly 25% concerned human medications accidentally ingested by pets, and 20% were about insecticides.

Veterinarians are also available 24 hours a day at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center.  Call 888-426-4435 for a consultation (there is a fee). 

To find an emergency clinic near you go to