In honor of Poison Prevention Week, March 14 – 20, we would like to make you aware of some of the most common health hazards found in many pet-owning households as well as other hazards that could happen outside of your home.

Over the past month we have had a couple of pets experience these hazards. For their stories see our pet of the month, “Pua” and her fishing tale and last month’s pet of the month “Hoku” and her mac nut dilemma.

Being aware is the best thing that we can do to help keep our pet family safe.

If your pet is poisoned, DON’T WAIT! Time is critical for successfully treating accidental poisoning. Pick up the phone and call your veterinarian. You may also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680); a consultation fee may apply.

Sago palms and dogs: Sago palms are toxic (especially the seeds) to dogs and kids, causing seizures, liver failure, and death in many cases. This palm is a popular one in Hawaii, so keep your pets and kids away from it!

When pets are painful or feverish, many people reach for something safe for kids to give them. While Tylenol is Ok for children, even a small dose can kill a cat within 24 hours. Please don’t use human pain relievers on either cats or dogs.

Did you know our “copper” pennies are made of zinc? Since 1982, pennies have very little copper. This is a serious problem for puppies that swallow them, as the stomach acids dissolve the penny quickly and cause a zinc poisoning that can very fatal.

Unfortunately for many dogs, inhalers look like just another toy. If punctured, the dog gets a massive dose of strong medications that can be fatal. Keep the inhalers off the tables or desks where a bored dog can get to them.

Many cats are really interested when the fish, chicken or steak is being prepared. Did you know that eating even a small amount of onion can cause a serious anemia in cats. If you give your cats pieces of your meal, make sure there are no onions in it. This applies to dogs too.

Macadamia nuts, dogs love them, but they don’t love dogs! Eating macnuts can result in a temporary paralysis of the hind end in dogs which can last a few days. It’s usually not fatal, but dogs can easily eat too many with bad consequences. Dogs also like chewing on macnuts while still in their shell which presents another problem. See “Hoku’s” story.

Tea tree oil is one of the most popular oils in use for people. Many products are marketed on the internet for pets. Be aware that dogs are very sensitive to all essential oils and they can be used only in very diluted amounts on them. Tea tree Oil is a cumulative toxin for cats, despite what manufacturers may claim. People are under the assumption that Tea tree oil is an effective treatment for ringworm. This is not the case. “Natural” flea collars are marketed and essential oils are added to the collar regularly by the owners. This is extremely dangerous for cats. There have been many cases of permanent liver damage in acts and deaths from the use of essential oils, especially tea tree oil. When manufacturers claim safety, make sure that their testing was done on cats, not dogs or rats, which are the more common test subjects. Cats are very different creatures, with liver metabolism different from all other species. Don’t use it on your cats! In contrast, hydrosols are safe to use on cats, and have none of the toxicity but many of the benefits of aromatherapy. Just make sure that any hydrosol does not have added essential oils after processing.