UPDATED: March is Pet Poison Awareness Month. It’s springtime and thoughts turn to spring cleaning, gardening and holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. While most of us know of the obvious toxins like chemical cleaners, nail polish removers and insecticides, there are other quieter dangers like prescription meds or supplements, foods like chocolate, garlic, alcohol (watch dyes for making green beer or coloring easter eggs) and the very lethal pollen, stems and leaves of Easter and other lilies. It’s not necessarily the item but the quantity ingested that creates the hazard.
Spring cleaning is a good time to inspect and cat-proof your home from top to bottom.
If you think your cat has ingested something harmful, do not hesitate to call your vet or poison control hotline.
The other day I was testing a carpet cleaner to spot clean the stairs and the soapy water leaked a big puddle on the floor, at the same moment Odin bounced into the room. Cats have odd timing that way. I barked at him to stay and luckily saved him a trip to the bathtub and a paws washing. He’s always getting into mischief indoors and outdoors so I keep spray bottles of Vetericyn handy for abrasions and I apply coconut oil to protect and soothe dry paw pads.
A cat’s nose, paws, skin are highly sensitive to environmental irritants. Odin loves the snow but only for a few minutes.
Veterinarian, Dr. Rich Goldstein has a few more tips to keep cats safe.
Many household items, ranging from floor cleaners and disinfectants to plants and foods, can be toxic to our pets. It’s important to be aware of them, and what to do if there’s exposure. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Always read the labels on cleaning products to see what it says about exposure to pets. Most will recommend keeping pets away (i.e. in the other room) until the product has completely dried. Any cleaning product, even pet-safe products, can potentially cause skin irritation (if walked upon), or stomach upset (if ingested), or respiratory symptoms (if inhaled). Best to keep Fluffy out of the room, and ventilate the room until the products are fully dry and aired out.
- If your kitty does come in contact with a cleaning solution, immediately wash the paws in warm water with a mild dish soap (like Dawn or Joy or Palmolive), rinse off the soapy water completely, and dry the feet thoroughly.
- Store household products in cat-proofed cabinets when not in use.
- Put together a Poison Safety Kit to keep in your house (right next to the First Aid Kit that you have!). Among the items it should include are:
- Fresh bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide, with a bulb syringe (to induce vomiting – but only on the advice of poison control or your veterinarian)
- Grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (like Dawn, or Joy, or Palmolive) (to wash feet and fur)
- A can of soft cat food
- A soft towel
- A bottle of saline eye flush and artificial tears (to protect the eye after flushing)
- Rubber gloves
- The number for your veterinarian, local emergency clinic, and Poison Control
- The ASPCA has one of the finest Animal Poison Control Centers in the country, available 24-7. Visit their website at more advice at ASPCA or call 888-426-4435. There is a $65 consultation fee for this service.
The ASPCA also has a list of toxic household items for free.