National Animal Poison Prevention Week promotes pet safety

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COLUMBIA - Pet owners care about the health of their pet like they care for their own, but knowing what to keep away from pets isn't always common knowledge. That's the purpose of a week that brings attention to possible pet poisons.

National Poison Prevention Week runs through March 24. Congress created the week in 1961 to raise awareness of poisoning dangers and how to prevent them.

The week focuses not only on people, but also on pets.

Several foods that don't pose immediate threats to most humans are quite dangerous for dogs and cats. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists several foods and beverages that people should avoid feeding pets, as well as the symptoms pets could display:

  • Alcohol - vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, coma or death
  • Avocado - cardiovascular damage in birds and some dogs
  • Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine - vomiting, diarrhea, extreme thirst and urination, hyperactivity, seizures or death
  • Citrus - stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds can cause irritation or central nervous system depression in big doses
  • Coconut and Coconut Oil - upset stomach or diarrhea
  • Grapes and Raisins - kidney failure
  • Macadamia Nuts - weakness, depression, vomiting and hyperthermia
  • Milk and Dairy - diarrhea
  • Nuts - vomiting, diarrhea or pancreatitis
  • Onions, Garlic and Chives - gastrointestinal irritation or red blood cell damage, mostly in cats
  • Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones - skin and coat problems, bone splinter getting lodged or puncturing the digestive tract
  • Salt, Salty Snack Foods - excessive thirst and urination, sodium ion poisoning, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures or death
  • Xylitol (gum, candy, baked goods, toothpaste) - liver failure
  • Yeast Dough - bloated stomach

Prescription and over-the-counter medications also create issues for pets. The ASPCA reported around 35 percent of calls to its Animal Poison Control Center hotline involving cases of medication consumed by animals.

The National Capital Poison Control Center said there were more than 50,000 confirmed cases of animal poison exposure in 2016.

If you believe your pet swallowed something toxic, contact your veterinarian or a poison control hotline. The ASPCA's is (888) 426-4435.