The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is one of your best resources for any potentially poisonous situation involving your pet. Manning the phones 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, someone is always available to determine if your pet needs medical attention after ingestion of a potentially harmful substance. While the APCC has not yet released their list of the most common toxins seen in pets in 2018, their list from 2017 contains a wealth of information regarding the typical hazards pets are exposed to. They handled an impressive 199,000 cases in 2017, a 10 percent increase over the previous year. Can you guess what the number one toxin was in 2017?
#10: Garden products have the ability to cause great harm to your pet. Fertilizers, such as blood meal and bone meal, are quite tempting to pets, but can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or an intestinal blockage. Stay away from using cocoa mulch, which—like chocolate—contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can cause toxicity if ingested. Wood-based mulches, such as cedar chips, can also be potentially irritating to pets due to the high content of tree oils. Another big draw—especially for dogs—is the compost pile. What dog doesn’t love rooting around in rotting food? The mycotoxins found in moldy, decomposing food can cause serious neurological problems.
#9: Plants, both indoors and out, can cause a wide variety of health issues in pets—from vomiting and diarrhea to heart arrhythmias. Pass on adding these plants to your garden to avoid posing a toxic temptation to your pet:
- Sago palms
#8: Rodenticides have many different mechanisms of poisoning, depending upon the active ingredient. The most common issues seen with rodenticides include internal bleeding, kidney damage, severe vomiting, and brain swelling. Pets may also ingest dead rodents poisoned by rodenticides, and become indirectly affected.
#7: Insecticides include a wide range of products that can be harmful to your pet. In addition to sprays, traps, and bait stations, topical and oral flea and tick preventives can also be toxic to animals. When using preventives, ensure that you are using a correct product and dose for your pet’s species and weight. Cats are extremely sensitive to many flea preventive products, leading to seizure activity and even death. Avoid this situation by discussing the best prevention for your pet with one of our veterinary team members.
#6: Household items cover a vast category of products, including cleaners, glues, paint, and laundry detergent. Almost any chemical product can cause harm to your pet, so be sure to keep all cleaning products and art supplies out of paw’s reach.
#5: Chocolate makes up an impressive 48 cases a day that are handled by the APCC. Dogs are excellent at sniffing out this sweet treat, unconcerned about the cardiac and neurological issues too much theobromine and caffeine can cause.
#4: Veterinary products can be a challenge to administer to some pets; flavored and chewable medications can make this task easier. Unfortunately, those helpful traits can also tempt your pet to wolf down an entire bottle of medication, creating serious side effects from an overdose.
#3: Food covers all the toxic human foods people accidentally share with their pets. Chocolate receives its own category, since it is such a commonly encountered toxin. In addition to chocolate, avoid giving your pet these dangerous foods:
- Grapes and raisins
- Raw bread dough
- Macadamia nuts
- Xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many sugar-free foods)
Provide pet-friendly treats instead, such as baked fish, chicken breast, broccoli, carrots, and green beans.
#2: Over-the-counter medications include a diverse group of products, such as vitamins, supplements, pain medications, antihistamines, probiotics, and cold and flu medications. Most exposure is accidental, but occasional toxicity occurs when pet owners attempt to treat a painful pet on their own. Pets cannot safely metabolize human anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen. Painful pets should only be treated with products that have been prescribed by a veterinarian.
#1: Human prescription medications claim the number one spot on the APCC’s list, with an impressive 34,888 cases requiring APCC assistance. The most common medications represented were pain medications, antidepressants, and heart medications. Ingestion of these products is typically accidental, like a pet snatching a pill dropped onto the floor, but occasional mix-ups do occur.
Is your pet notorious for tangling with toxins? Keep our number handy to discuss prevention and treatment options.