Parents, beware: accidental poisoning from pet medicines is likely to happen among children when less attention is given to storing these seemingly harmless veterinary medications.
The warning in your disinfectant and pesticide packaging to "Keep Out Of Reach Of Children," must be applied to pet medicines, too.
Some 74.1 million households in the United States own at least one pet. There were at least 78 million dogs living in the household as pets back in 2012. And half of these households have children below 19.
Preventable poisonings among children accounted for more than 60,000 emergency cases and almost one million calls to poison centers; 48 percent of annual calls made to poison centers involved children below five years old.
1,431 Cases Of Accidental Poisoning Recorded
From 1999 to 2013, the Central Ohio Poison Center, for instance, recorded 1,431 cases of accidental poisoning among children. Eighty-seven percent of these calls involved children below five years old.
Eighty-eight percent of the exposures were related to pet medicines for canine, whether they were through ingestion (94 percent) and ocular (2.1 percent) or skin contact (1.1 percent), with most of these cases happening at home.
"It's much more common than we thought," COPC Director Henry Spiller, one of the authors of the study, said.
The research indicated that these accidental poisonings had no serious medical effect.
Parents are urged, however, to pay attention to storing medicines, including medicines for pets, carefully.
At Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, parents are counselled on medication safety.
These pet medicines may appear "yummy candy to kids," Dr. Tanya Altmann, founder of Calabasas Pediatrics, said.
It is a must, she said, that these medicines are kept out of children's reach. She reminded parents that children are curious and eager to explore everything.
The children might "accidentally get into something that they shouldn't," she added.
Store, Lock Up Pet Medicines Separately
To prevent accidental poisoning, parents must ensure that medicines are stored in child-resistant containers, and pet medicines must be stored separately from human medications.
Dr. Michael Topper of the American Veterinary Medical Association advised pet owners when administering medicines to their pets.
"If pet owners are unsure on how to give it, before they leave the vet, ask them to give lessons on how to give pills to your pet," Topper said.