Poison Prevention Week is for Pets Too

Contact: Dawn Noufer, Communications Associate
Texas Veterinary Medical Association
8104 Exchange Drive
Austin, Texas 78754
Phone: 512/452-4224
Fax: 512/452-6633


AUSTIN—Poison Prevention Week, which is observed March 15-21 this year, emphasizes the importance of being aware of which household items are harmful or poisonous if ingested. This attention should especially be extended to the furry and feathered residents of the home. While adults and even children can be taught what to avoid, this can be a challenge for pets. Ensure you’re creating a safe home for your pets by educating yourself on which food and plants are toxic to pets, locking away poisons and securing other household dangers out of reach.

While most pet owners are aware that human medications and poisons like household cleaners and antifreeze should always be kept far out of pets’ reach, some toxins are far less obvious. Foods like avocados, raisins, grapes, walnuts, macadamia nuts, chocolate, onions and garlic, all of which humans regularly consume, are actually dangerous for pets. Consumption of these foods can result in vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, seizures and even death. 

As any pet owner who has found their dog treating the trash like a five-star meal knows, our pets can be less discerning than humans when it comes to ingesting objects. Some common ornamental plants like Sago palm, lilies, poinsettia, mistletoe and yew are toxic to pets, and their effects can range from mild gastric irritation to seizures and death. Keep in mind that pets may attempt to ingest other inedible household items like wires, string, clothing and decorations, which can cause dangerous gastrointestinal obstructions. 

“Do not discount the possibility of your pet jumping up onto a table or counter to have a snack,” said Christine New, DVM, a Texas Veterinarian Medical Association (TVMA) member who practices at Emergency Animal Clinic Inc. in Dallas. “Additionally, keep an eye on any purses, backpacks or lunchboxes, especially where kids may leave their belongings on the floor after school.”

There is a wide range of effects toxicity will have on a pet, depending on how long the substance has been in its system and the amount consumed. If you ever suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic food, do not delay in calling the 24-hour ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888/426-4435. The staff at this hotline will be able to tell you if the ingested substance is toxic, whether there’s an antidote available and if your pet should be treated by a veterinarian. If your pet is vomiting, staggering, unconscious or experiencing seizures, do not take the time to call the hotline and instead transport your pet to the closest veterinary clinic.

Have a question about pet health or safety when you’re not in your veterinarian’s clinic? offers an online resource for veterinarian-written and -reviewed articles. For more information on foods that are toxic to your pets, visit To read more about toxic houseplants, visit To download a chart of foods that are toxic to pets, visit

About the Texas Veterinary Medical Association

Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit