They’re all around us: items that are poisonous to our pets. They include certain plants and foods, such as lilies and chocolate, which can be fatal to cats and dogs; medications for humans, both prescription and over-the-counter; antifreeze; rat bait; household cleaners such as bleach, and tobacco and alcohol. The list goes on.

We hope you never find yourself in a situation where your pet has been poisoned. To help you try to prevent it from happening, here is some advice from Dr. Sasha Naugler and Dr. Laura Wiles with RPG Innovations’ Vet Council. They also explain what to do if you think your pet has ingested a poison:

Poison-Proof Your Home

The best way to keep your furry friends safe is to poison-proof your home and garden. How? Print out a list of pet poisons from a reputable pet health website such as Vetstreet. Then go around your home, yard and garage checking to make sure anything that your pet could get into or lick is locked away. Check the list before you buy any plants or give your pets human foods. Store the number to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, (888) 426-4435, and your local vet in your phone.

What To Do In A Poison-Related Emergency

If you think you pet has swallowed a poisonous substance but he’s acting normally, call the ASPCA Poison Control Center hotline immediately. Their vets are experts in diagnosing and treating toxicity in animals; they respond to dozens of calls every day (unlike your local vet, who may not have much experience). Be prepared to tell them as much as you can about your pet, the poison you think they have been exposed to and their symptoms. If the ASPCA vet thinks the situation is serious, they will advise you to go to your own vet and liaise with them, providing detailed treatment protocols. Just be aware that there is a $65 consultation fee.

If your pet shows obvious symptoms of having ingested a poison, such as foaming at the mouth or vomiting blood, then do head for your vet immediately. Phone the clinic before you leave and let them know you have a poison-related emergency so they will be prepared to treat your pet as soon as you arrive.

Number One Cause of Pet Poisoning

What’s the number one culprit in pet poisons? Medications. Be extra careful to securely store all medications for humans and pets (including vitamins) out of reach of your pooch and kitty. If you’re taking a pill, don’t leave it lying around while you grab a glass of water!

If you’ve been in a situation where your pet has been poisoned, please share your story below and any changes you made in your home as a result of this experience.