March is Pet Poison Awareness Month: So How Do I keep My Pet Safe?

How Do I keep My Pet Safe From Poison?

March means the beginning of Spring! Hooray! It is also PET POISON PREVENTION AWARENESS MONTH.  Here are some ways to keep your fur babies safe both inside and out in the upcoming months.


As the snow melts and the ground begins to thaw, we dog parents have the sometimes seemingly impossible job of keeping our perfect pooches from eating “stuff” off the streets! Living here in NYC, and on the Upper West and Upper East Sides especially, we have to be hyper diligent about watching out for potentially dangerous substances on the sidewalks and in our local parks. From the piles of garbage bags put out bi-weekly in our neighborhoods, to the rat poison used to control the rodent population, to the growing amount of excrement seen in our green spaces (YUCK!), we have our hands full keeping our dogs safe. 

The best way to avoid your dog getting into something hazardous is to teach her to “LEAVE IT” or “DROP IT”.  Dogs love to investigate with their noses and tongues, and if something smells or tastes the least bit “appetizing” they’ll eat it up in a second. Training your dog to ignore or release things from her mouth is your first line of defense in preventing severe sickness due to poisoning. Work with a trainer to teach your dog these commands through positive reenforcement and always carry a flashlight and treats with you to light the way at night and tempt her away from the yuck on the streets.

And if all else fails and your dog just can’t kick that street scrounging habit, bring on the muzzle! This seems to be a controversial method, but there is absolutely no shame in making your dog wear a well fitted cage muzzle to keep her safe. Be sure she can open her mouth to pant but have the head harness secure enough that her pawing and rubbing won’t remove the muzzle from her face.  She’ll hate it at first but will soon grow accustomed to, not only wearing the muzzle, but also not having access to all the street goodies! Here are some outdoor hazards to watch out for:

  • Flowering plants (Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Tulips, Daffodils and Sago Palms)

  • Cocoa mulch

  • Lawn and flower fertilizers 

  • Pesticides

  • Pest control products 

  • Standing water

  • Topical flea and tick control products (if applied incorrectly or if accidentally ingested) 

  • Animal and human waste

  • Household garbage

  • Old food and chicken bones

If you think your pooch may have ingested any of the above substances keep a look out for these symptoms and call your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) immediately:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea 

  • Blood in stool

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Lethargy or loss of appetite

  • Inability to urinate

How to Keep Your Cat Safe From Poison


Let’s face it. If you live in NYC, whether it be the Upper West Side,  Upper East Side, Harlem or Alphabet City, you don’t always have a lot of space. This means that stowing away household items that are hazardous to your pet’s health can sometimes be difficult, especially for those cat parents with houdini-esque fur babies!

Here are some common household items to keep away from your pet:

  • Chocolate (the darker the more toxic)

  • Grapes and raisins

  • Avocados

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Xylitol (sweeter found in gum and other commercial baked goods)

  • Yeast dough

  • Coffee and alcohol

  • Tomatoes

  • Certain types of indoor plants (Lilies, Eucalyptus, Aloe, Poinsettias and Mistletoe)

  • Antifreeze

  • Human and pet medicines

If you don’t have the cabinet space to hide all your cleaning supplies and other toxic materials, stackable storage bins and vacuum sealed food containers are the way to go! Following these basic rules will help keep your pet safe and healthy.

  • Don’t leave food out for pets to eat

  • Keep ALL plants out of reach and the particularly poisonous species out of your home

  • Lock up or stow away all medicines and household cleaners

  • Keep your pets away from sinks, tubs and toilets

  • Remove small objects on counter tops and floors (did you know pennies minted after 1982 contain zinc and can be toxic to cats?? Keep your change in your pockets or wallet!)

An important fact to remember, whether you have a dog or a cat, is if you think your pet has gotten into something toxic, fast action yields better results. Don’t try to google and troubleshoot. Call Pet Poison Control (888-426-4435), and keep a look out for the following symptoms.

  • Vomiting or diarrhea 

  • Blood in stool

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Lethargy or loss of appetite

  • Inability to urinate

  • Bruising

  • Nosebleeds

Without treatment these can turn into more serious side effects such as seizures, kidney failure, liver damage and even death. 

Make sure you have the following information ready when you call Pet Poison Control and/or your veterinarian:

  • What your pet ate

  • How long ago

  • How much

Keeping your pet safe from hazardous substances in the environment can feel overwhelming at times, but just remember there are a bunch of resources out there to help. Scary scenarios like the ones we’ve mentioned here happen to everyone at some point in their pet parenting lives. You are most definitely not alone!


Pet Poison Helpline - (855) 764-7661

ASPCA Pet Poison Control - (888) 426-4435

The ASPCA just released a great, FREE app for pet poisoning advice. Available for both Android and IOS