Poisoning Prevention and Awareness

March of each year has been designated Poison Prevention and Awareness Month by the pet industry, but it's a topic that comes up all year long. 

Dogs have an unfortunate way of getting into things that are dangerous to them. The sweet taste of spilled and puddled antifreeze on the street, a package of gum with Xylitol carelessly left on a low table, even a small child loosely holding a chocolate bar--- all these are serious risks for your pet.

Dogs have also been known to find and play with medicine bottles left where they can reach them…and if they can chew them open or get the caps off, they are quite interested in chomping up those little crunchy pills inside.

Pesticides (indoors and out) also pose very serious risks to pets. Be sure every pest applicator knows you have pets in the home and advises you as to when it is safe to allow the pets back into the treated rooms or onto your lawn.

Cats often chew on plants that turn out to be quite dangerous to them. Ask us for a list of houseplants that can harm your cat. 

If your pet is acting peculiar, displays sudden changes of behavior or appears ill, it’s best to visit the vet to rule out poisoning. Quick medical intervention is often the difference between life and death.

Precautions You Can Take To Keep Your Dog Safe

  • Keep your prescription and over the counter medicines well away from where the dog can reach them.
  • Use all pet insecticides and oral medications properly. 
  • Keep household cleaning products in a secure place: dogs have been known to ingest cleaning fluids, detergents and other home items.
  • People food. Some that that seem innocent – avocado, grapes and raisins, nuts--- can make your dog seriously ill. And alcohol is dangerous for them as well. The sweetener Xylitol causes serious symptoms. 
  • Plants. Azaleas and rhododendrons, tulips, daffodils and sago palm seeds are all known as dog poisons, capable of causing severe illness and death. 
  • Rodenticides. Dogs sometimes ingest the poison itself, and sometimes eat a poisoned rodent. Symptoms depend on the poison and the amount. 
  • Lawn and Garden Products. Like household cleaners, these should be stored out of the dog's reach.


The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous. And it’s the dose that makes it dangerous. A few M&Ms or a bite of a chocolate chip cookie is probably not poisonous, but as little as .13 ounces per pound of your dog’s body weight puts a dog at risk of poisoning. Baker’s chocolate in particular is a serious danger and should be considered an emergency if your dog eats any.
Mild vomiting and diarrhea can be caused by small amounts of chocolate. Larger amounts can cause severe agitation, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures and collapse.