Last week was National Poison Prevention Week and the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) is reminding pet owners to keep their pets out of harm’s way. According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), its Animal Poison Control Center answers more than 200,000 calls for help annually.

Common poisonous substances that pets can encounter typically fit into five categories: human medications (ibuprofen, antidepressants, acetaminophen), human foods (avocado, onions, grapes, raisins), insecticides (insect baits), rodenticides (mouse and rat poisons), and dietary supplements and vitamins (iron, Vitamin D).

In addition, common household cleaners (bleaches, detergents) and common plants (lilies, tulip bulbs and oleander) can also be of great concern.

Preventing poisonous encounters is as simple as keeping all of these items out of a pet’s reach just as you would a child. Do not leave pills, pill bottles or other items on counters and secure all pills, cleaners and insecticides in closed cabinets or drawers where they are not accessible. Also be very careful when handling pills so your pet does not ingest one that has been left on the ground. Never assume that human medication is suitable for a pet and discuss all options with your veterinarian first.

Although symptoms of poisoning can vary, they often include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite, staggering or trouble breathing. If you pet does exhibit these signs, call your veterinarian immediately or visit the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital. In addition, pet owners can invest in an emergency first-aid kit for their pet, but will need to consult their veterinarian first regarding how and when to use those items.

For more information, visit http://www.aspca.org/Home/Pet-care/poison-control.

• Bretta Nelson is public relations manager for the Arizona Humane Society. Reach her at (602) 997-7586, ext. 1013, or bnelson@azhumane.org.

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