Pet Poison Prevention Tips

Jill A. Richardson, DVM
From the January/February 2000 Rat & Mouse Gazette



March 19 - 25 marks National Poison Prevention Week and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals/National Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA/NAPCC) has an objective to educate pet owners about the importance of poison safety.

The Center is the first and only 24-hour poison control hotline for animals in North America. Our professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Veterinarians and pet owners needing advice reach a staff of 20 veterinarians (including five board-certified toxicologists) and seven certified veterinary technicians.


To celebrate "National Poison Prevention Week," the ASPCA/NAPCC is reminding pet owners of the importance of poison prevention. In order to educate pet owners about ways to establish a poison-safe pet environment, the ASPCA/NAPCC presents the following tips for pet owners.


  • Be aware of the plants you have in your home and yard. The ingestion of azalea, oleander, caster bean, sago palm, Easter lily (in cats only), or yew plant material by an animal can be fatal.
  • Never allow your pets to have access to the areas in which cleaning agents are being used or stored. Cleaning agents have a variety of properties; some may only cause mild stomach upset, but others can cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth, and stomach.
  • Store all cleaners, pesticides, and medications in a secured area.
  • Most baits contain ingredients that can attract your pets. When using rat, mouse, snail or slug baits, or ant or roach traps, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your companion animals. (Editor's note: most of us pet rat and mouse lovers would never consider using rat and mouse baits!)
  • Never give your companion animals medication unless you are directed to do so by a veterinarian. Many medications that are safe for humans can be deadly for animals. For example, one extra strength (500 mg) acetaminophen tablet could be fatal to a cat. (Editor's note: In treating your pet rats and mice, always consult a veterinarian or refer to the Gazette drug chart.)
  • Keep all prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of your pets' reach, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are all examples of human medications that can be lethal to animals, even in small doses. For example, one 200 mg ibuprofen tablet could cause stomach ulcers in a small dog.
  • Never leave chocolate unattended. (Editor's note: small quantities are fine for rats.)
  • Many common household items can be lethal to animals. Mothballs, potpourri oils, coffee grounds, homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, batteries, cigarettes, alcoholic drinks, and hand and foot warmers are potentially toxic.
  • Automotive products such as gasoline, oil, and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than one tablespoon can be lethal to a 20-pound dog.
  • Before buying a flea product, consult your veterinarian, especially when treating sick, debilitated, or pregnant pets.
  • Read all of the information on the label before using a product on your pet or in your home. Always follow the directions.
  • If a product is for use only on dogs, it should never be used on cats. (Editor's note: In general, products for dogs are too strong for rats, but cat and kitten products are normally fine.)
  • Make sure your companion animals do not enter areas in which insecticidal foggers or house sprays have been applied for the period indicated on the label.
  • If you are uncertain about the proper usage of any product, contact the manufacturer and/or your veterinarian for instructions.


Contact ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at
1-888-4ANI-HELP   1-888-426-4435
For online information about the ASPCA/NAPCC visit the web site at http://www.napcc.aspca.org
For online Pet TIPS visit the web site at http://www.angelfire.com/il/CCHSgiftshopNEWS/index3.html