“I’ve been a veterinarian for more than 20 years and an ER doctor for more than 12,” says Dr. LoSasso. “During this time, I’ve seen an increase in the number of pet poisoning cases and I’m not alone. It is estimated that there are two million cases of pet poisonings in this country every single year. It is an epidemic and we’ve got to do something about this.”
He shares the story of a man named David who bought a large bouquet of flowers for his mother for Mother’s Day. He bought her favorite — Stargazer lilies. Unfortunately that night, the mother’s cat began vomiting violently. It was not due to hairballs, but the toxins from the plant. The cat’s kidneys shut down and she died two days later.
Shockingly, a cat who grooms his paws after stepping on pollen or licks water from a vase containing a lily can ingest enough amount of the toxin to die.
“This is a horrible story made even sadder because it is repeated several hundred times across America every single year,” says Dr. LoSasso. “And more tragically is that it was preventable with a little education.”
He has launched a grassroots campaign aimed at getting dog and cat warning labels placed on all plants and flowers known to be toxic to pets that are sold in floral shops, nurseries and gardening centers. He wants to alert merchants and shoppers to make sure such plants are not sold to households with pets. His campaign is called Preventing Pet Poisoning.
“If we join together, we can fix this problem,” he says. “If we can get the folks who sell the flowers and plants to change their labeling, we can make consumers and pet owners aware of the potential dangers and we can save the lives of millions of dogs and cats."
He has created colorful dog and cat icons that quickly convey these particular plants are dangerous, even deadly to pets. He is hoping these warning labels are also added to sugar-free products like gum and mints containing xylitol (very dangerous to dogs) as well as to certain human medications. He encourages merchants to steer people with pets to pet-safe selections instead.
"For our pets' sake, we have to stop warning owners after the fact and educating them before they have to take their pets to the ER," he says. "Help us in getting retailers to sell products that are potentially poisonous to pets to label these products, both online and in person, to better educate the pet-owning public."
By Sarah Zumhofe