Prescription medications for humans top the list of pet toxins for the fourth year in a row, according to a new list released today by the ASPCA.
In 2011, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Ill. fielded more than 165,000 phone calls about pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances – and in almost 26 percent of those calls, the ASPCA aided in diagnosing and treating pets which accidentally ingested human medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter.
According to the ASPCA, the top five calls into its APCC in 2011 were regarding the following toxins:
1) Prescription human medications. The APCC received almost 25,000 calls regarding pets ingesting prescription human medication. Dogs are especially notorious for ingesting dropped pills. Heart medication made up a large percentage of the calls, along with medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The ASPCA recommends that pet owners always take their pills in a safe place away from their pets, like behind a closed door.
2) Insecticides. About 11 percent of the calls were about insecticides, which include products used on lawns, in homes, and on pets for flea/tick treatment. When using these products, it is crucial that pet owners read and follow the directions on the label to avoid accidental poisoning.
3) Over-the-counter human medications. Almost 18,000 calls were made to the APCC about over-the-counter human medicine, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. These are extremely dangerous to animals and can cause death. Before giving over-the-counter medication to pets, always check with your veterinarian first.
4) People foods. Chocolate is the No. 1 human food ingested by pets. The APCC received over 7,600 calls about chocolate alone in 2011; an average of 21 calls a day. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate and seizures. The second most common calls were about xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause seizures and liver failure in dogs. Grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are other foods commonly ingested by pets. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, while onions and garlic can cause anemia if enough is ingested.
5) Household items. Nearly 12,000 calls were made to the APCC about general household items such as paint, fire logs and drain openers. Be aware of what is within your pet’s reach, especially when you aren’t home to supervise. Some items may just cause stomach upset, while others can be deadly.
The remaining top toxins included veterinary products, rodenticides, plants, lawn and garden products, and automotive products. For about a complete list of the top 10 pet toxins of 2011, visit www.aspca.org/apcc. If your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s 24-hour APCC hotline at 1-888-426-4435.