Matt’s Blog: Be Prepared to Deal with Pet Poisons
By ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker
Being a responsible pet owner means relying on a range of veterinary professionals, especially during a potential medical emergency. When a pet ingests something they shouldn’t—which most owners will say is indeed a “when,” not an “if”—immediate action and expert insight are critical.
As we observe National Poison Prevention Week (March 20-26), it’s important to see this commitment as not just reactive (responding to potential toxicity) but also proactive (knowing what everyday household items may be toxic). Supporting pet owners and veterinarians with both needs is our ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), a 24/7 365-days-a-year resource that recently recorded its four millionth case of potential toxicity since its founding in 1978.
This amazing milestone—which includes support for millions of individual owners and tens of thousands of veterinary clinics—reflects the deep care, compassion, hard work and dedication of our APCC team of veterinary professionals.
Because ongoing discoveries in veterinary toxicology are frequent, the APCC often shares its breakthrough scientific findings with the veterinary community. Last year, veterinarians at the APCC made a groundbreaking discovery about the specific toxic component in grapes, which has been unknown to the veterinary community for more than two decades.
Constant awareness of American culture and habits is also crucial as the number and nature of potentially toxic household substances change over time. While the APCC records plenty of calls about traditional items like plants, chocolate, common household products and over-the-counter medications including Vitamin D, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, we’ve also fielded questions about lesser-known potentially toxic substances such as xylitol, essential oils and CBD gummies. It’s also important to know that certain substances are only potentially toxic to certain species. For example, grapes/raisins and xylitol are toxic to dogs, but not to cats, while exposure to lilies is severely toxic to cats, but not to dogs.
As you assess the potentially toxic items in and around your home that may be accessible to pets, keep in mind that expert advice—not just search engine and social media advice—is critical to make sure your pets get healthy and stay healthy. The APCC is a resource, and so is your veterinarian. Keep those phone numbers on hand, and please keep yourself and your family aware of the best ways to protect your pets from hidden dangers.