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February 16, 2013

Some common items can be hazardous to pets

PLATTSBURGH — Protecting pets from poison requires planning, especially when they have such a knack for sneaking into places they shouldn’t.

Annie Rochester, 52, a pet owner in Champlain, experienced a poisoning situation over Columbus Day weekend about five years ago that resulted in the death of her two beloved dogs. Indigo, a 4-year-old American rat terrier, and Confucius, a 5-year-old Japanese chin, consumed the contents of expired prescription medication that Rochester had thrown away while cleaning out the bathroom.

“I knew they had gotten into the garbage; I never gave it a second thought,” said Rochester, who had also thrown food from the refrigerator into the same bag. “I didn’t see any evidence or any half-eaten pills.”

Rochester could tell the two dogs were sick the next morning and rushed them to the vet, but damage had been done to their kidneys and livers. Both were put down that day.

“You just feel guilty,” Rochester said. “They’re just like children; you’re responsible for their safety.”

Sue Benway, the veterinarian at Elmbrook Veterinary Services in AuSable Forks, generally sees around four or five suspected poisonings over a six-month period. 

“It’s a mixture of dogs and cats, but mostly dogs,” Benway said. “We had a dog that had access to a compost pile and was poisoned by onions. We also get calls about grape and raisin toxicity.”

Benway also warns against rat poison, which is potentially deadly to pets. 

“Do not use rat poison, even if it’s hidden,” she said. “It takes several days for the effects of it to show up because it causes bleeding internally.”

In most cases of pet poisoning, induced vomiting using hydrogen peroxide is the best option. 

“Everyone with pets in their household should have hydrogen peroxide available, but they should call a vet before using it,” Benway said. 

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