In 1961, Congress designated the week of March 16-22 as National Poison Prevention Week. Since then, the pet loving community has adopted the idea and expanded it to be Pet Poison Awareness Month.

So we’re focused on passing along as much information as we can to keep your pets safe and healthy. Here are 5 of our favorite tips to help prevent pet poisoning!

1. Know Which Foods are Poisonous

Keep in mind that pets will have a range of sensitivities to any foods so while your Biscuit may have survived eating an entire chocolate cake, that doesn’t mean that every Biscuit will. Here’s what the Humane Society suggests we stay away from:

  • Alcohol
  • Apricot, Cherry, Peach & Avocado Pits
  • Chocolate, Coffee & Caffeine
  • Grapes (and Raisins)
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Onion, Garlic and Chives

2. Household Plants Aren’t Always Safe

For reasons unknown, some pets will sometimes chew on plants, and some of the standard houseplants that Americans love can actually be harmful for your pets. The list from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has a list of over 400 plants. Here are some of the more notable ones, but head to their site and check out the entire list if you are curious about a specific plant in your home.

  • Amaryllis
  • Aloe
  • Azalea
  • Lily
  • Boxwood
  • Daffodil
  • Rhododendron

3. Human Medications

In 2012, almost half of the calls to the Pet Poison Helpline were for dogs that ate over the counter or prescription medications. The majority of them involved antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Effexor, and common OTC drugs containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) and  NSAIDs (e.g. Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin), which can cause serious harm to dogs when ingested.

4. Recognize the Signs of Poisoning

You know your pet and you can usually tell when something isn’t right. Keep an eye out for some of these abnormal behaviors that could indicate poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing blood
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

Check out the Pet Poison Helpline’s article on knowing the signs of poisoning in dogs and cats.

5. Keep Contact Information Handy

Keep your veterinarian’s phone number handy. They are familiar with the area you live in and your pet and are always a great first point of contact when things seem wrong.

If it’s after hours or you can’t get through to your vet, the Pet Poison Helpline (885-764-7661) is available 24hrs a day, is chock full of awesome information and it is the only health care practice operationed poison control service to provide medical and toxicological advice for animals.