Poison Prevention Awareness

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By Dr. Catherine DeJesus-Savas
Associate Veterinarian, Calvert Veterinary Center

Unfortunately, poisoning is one of the leading causes of injury and death in this country. One of the biggest poisoning epidemics is opioid overdoses. While this is not such an issue with our pets, veterinarians are seeing an increase in people seeking these drugs (as well as other controlled substances) through treatment of their pets. In some cases, pets are being abused in hopes that these medications will be prescribed to aid in pain management or anxiety. Due to this, many veterinary clinics have implemented more stringent protocols for assessment of patient history, physical exams, and identification requirements for dispensing our written prescriptions for these medications. While we want to ensure your pets get proper pain management, we also need to help prevent these medications from getting into the wrong hands while still being able to treat our patients.

Many unintended exposures affect both humans and pets. Here are some tips to prevent poisoning.

Awareness: Read and follow all labels and directions. Review medicine and product labels before you use them, especially before giving medicines. Every medication can have side effects, even if they are over-the-counter medications. Do not give your pet any over-the-counter medications without consulting with your veterinarian.

Safety: Store medicines and hazardous substances up, away, and out of the sight of children and pets. Keep these substances in their original containers. Clean any spills, like antifreeze, cleaners, medications, etc. Also, choose pet-friendly ways to winterize your homes/driveways and use pet-safe pest control.

Preparedness: Be prepared for an emergency. Keep the numbers to the poison helplines in your phone at all times. For Humans: The poison helpline is 1-800-222-1222. Text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your smartphone. For Pets: The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number is 888-426-4435; there is a fee for its services. The staff will provide a case number to allow your veterinarian to access the specific treatment recommendations for your pet’s toxin exposure. For HomeAgain members who have the full service annual membership, there is no charge to use the emergency medical hotline, which is staffed by ASPCA veterinarians. 

Early Detection: Have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors that are fully functional in your home. Keep count of medications left in containers.

If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned, we recommend calling ASPCA Animal Poison Control for advice on the next steps to take (monitoring vs immediate examination and treatment). If your pet is visibly ill, we recommend calling Poison Control first, then bringing your pet in to expedite the treatment process. Each poison is different and may cause negative affects at different doses.

At Calvert Veterinary Center, we will do our best to treat poisoned pets. However, depending on the severity of the poisoning, more emergent care may be required and necessitate transfer to an emergency facility. So remember to be aware, safe, prepared, and practice early detection to prevent your family and fur babies from poison-related illness. Calvert Veterinary Center has been serving Pasadena and surrounding communities for more than 14 years. The office is conveniently located at 4100 Mountain Road in Pasadena. To schedule an appointment, call 410-360-7297 or visit www.calvertvet.com.

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