Prevent unwittingly poisoning pets | SierraSun.com

Prevent unwittingly poisoning pets

Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The first day of spring signaled planning gardens, buying Easter lilies, fertilizers, mulch and pesticides, setting up compost piles, cleaning up the yard. This time of year, cats often nibble on lethal Easter lilies. Cats and dogs may eat and#8220;tastyand#8221; pesticides and/or the rodents who ingested the poisons. Too many animals are made ill or killed by ingesting insecticides and products, like cocoa mulch. Fortunately, information is readily available to plan a pet and child safe home and garden.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 57 poison control centers handled 4 million calls in 2011. More than half of the calls involving pesticide poisoning were for children age 5 or younger. Recent EPA rules require that pesticide packaging be child and pet proof. The EPA recommends children, pets and their toys be removed from any area where pesticides are to be used and they not be allowed back until safe to do so according to the package label.

Insecticide and pesticide poisonings continue to rank high on the emergency call list for pets as well. The National Pet Poison Control Center was created in 1978 by Dr. William Beck, professor and pioneer in the field of clinical toxicology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana. In 1996, the help line came under the wing of the New York ASPCA and was renamed the Animal Poison Control Center, 30 university veterinarians and 13 board-certified toxicologists handle an average of 375 calls a day from pet owners, veterinarians, zoo keepers and other animal caregivers. Help is available 24 hours at 888-426-4435.

According to Dr. Steven Hansen, who runs the APCC and is an adjunct professor at the veterinary school, dog incidents represent 85 percent of calls and cat poisonings represent 13 percent. The 2007 APCC statistics show accidental ingestion of human or veterinary drugs as the reason for 68 percent of all calls. In 2011, insecticides for lawn, insect baits and wrongly applied pet flea and tick products remained the number two cause of pet poison emergency calls. Further, the number one reason for feline emergency calls was using dog flea and tick products on a cat, despite the and#8220;dogs onlyand#8221; warning on the label.

The CATalyst Council also is raising awareness of poisons most likely to affect cats: Household plants, including lilies, which are lethal; human food like onion, garlic, chives, chocolate, caffeine and macadamia nuts; human and animal medications; mouse or rat poison eaten when a rodent is caught; chewed flea collars and topical parasite medication not properly applied.

To the list of toxins add ingesting marijuana; developing nasal, oral, lung and lymph node cancer from inhaled second hand smoke and/or particles swallowed when grooming; medicating with lethal herbal remedies, aromatherapy oils, and other uncontrolled substances. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener in many sugar-free products, also is a recent addition. Both safe and toxic substances are listed and downloadable by category and by animal species on the APCC web pages located at: aspca.org/apcc.-

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and#8212; Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and S.P.C.A. to help and#8220;Keep Tahoe Kind.and#8221; Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.