By AMY HEGGEN
---- — 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.
Nathan Theobald, a veterinarian at Palmer Veterinary Clinic on Route 22 in Plattsburgh, recommends calling a vet or an animal-poison control hotline if you think your pet may have been poisoned. Call with information such as the weight of the pet, how much of the toxin was ingested and when it happened.
“Call with what the pet got into, and not just the brand name of the product but the active ingredient,” Theobald said.
Other toxins notorious for causing issues with pets are flea and tick products. If the product is intended for dogs, it shouldn’t be used on cats, Theobald said. Also, pets should be watched carefully after treated to ensure they don’t lick the area and ingest the medication.
Small pets are also susceptible to toxins, such as oven cleaner.
“Anything that gives off fumes; if you can smell it, keep it away from your small pets,” Theobald said.
“You’ve got to get on it right away if your pet ate something,” Benway said. “Always be alert. Always tell the vet anything you’ve done or applied.”
The ASPCA says the top 10 pet toxins of 2011 are:
1. Prescription human medications
3. Over-the-counter human medications
4. People food
5. Household products
6. Veterinary medications
9. Lawn and garden products
10. Automotive products
--Courtesy of www.aspca.org