Practitioner Updates

Pharmacist’s Corner: Client Counseling for Holiday Pet Safety

Cat with ornaments

December brings about a time for celebrations and cheer but also provides ample opportunities for exposure to toxic plants, hazardous foods, and decorations that pose a risk to our pets. Every day your veterinary clinic is becoming busier and busier, so providing your clients with tips to avoid emergencies can help keep your clinic from becoming overrun and your clients and their pets from experienc­ing additional stress.

Help your clients plan for emergencies by providing a handout that contains the following information:

  • The phone number for your veterinary clinic, along with your hours
  • The contact information of at least one 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic in the area, if your practice is not one
  • The ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (1-888-426-4435)

Clients may not be familiar with toxic plants and hazardous foods that are more common around the holidays, so creating an additional handout to help prevent exposure can be beneficial. With family and friends around, there may also be the potential for exposure to over-the-counter and prescription medications. The following items should be included in a handout:

  • Food: Chocolate, sweets or baked goods made with artificial sweetener (e.g., Xylitol), poultry skin, animal bones, yeast dough, fatty foods
  • Plants: Mistletoe, holly, amaryllis, poinsettia, Christmas tree
  • Decorations: Ornaments (especially glass or ceramic), electric lights, tinsel, lit candles, potpourri
  • Medications: Acetaminophen, caffeine, ibuprofen, naproxen, sleep-aids, antidepressants, ADD/ADHD medications, heart medications

To prepare for potential holiday emergencies, be sure to educate your entire staff about what constitutes an emergency and what can be treated symptomatically at home.

This month’s column is from Alex Gochenauer, PharmD, FSVHP.