Each year, the ASPCA examines the data mined from its Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) and releases the top 10 toxin categories that affected pets. In 2018, the APCC, which provides an invaluable service to pet owners, received 213,773 calls—up from 199,000 calls in 2017—about potential animal poisonings. Prevent your pet from becoming a statistic by keeping them well away from the following 10 most common toxins:
#1: Over-the-counter medications: 19.6%
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications edged out human prescriptions as the most called-about toxin in 2018. This is a diverse category that includes supplements, vitamins, antihistamines, cold and flu remedies, and OTC pain medications and anti-inflammatories. Many pet owners turn to Google and Facebook for home remedies to alleviate their pet’s pain, itching, or gastrointestinal distress, and often use misinformation that can seriously harm, and may kill, their pet. Before giving your pet any OTC medication, such as ibuprofen, Benadryl, or Pepto Bismol, call us to see if it is safe for your beloved companion.
#2: Human prescriptions: 17.5%
While people may occasionally share their medications with their pets (e.g., pain medication), pets are more likely to accidentally ingest human prescriptions. Pets are experts at snatching dropped pills off the floor, although they may be the same pets who can detect their own tiny pill in a hot dog. The most common human prescriptions that pets sniff out include ADHD and heart medications, and antidepressants. Remind visiting family and friends to keep pill bottles well out of your pet’s reach and ensure that suitcases, purses, and coat pockets don’t contain potentially deadly medications.
#3: Food: 11.4%
Although many people are aware of the most common food-related poisons, toxic ingredients sneak their way into a variety of dishes. Xylitol, a common sugar substitute, is popping up in more sugar-free items, such as condiments, candies, and beverages. Onions and garlic also appear in many foods, especially side dishes prepared at home. And, always watch out for raisins and grapes.
#4: Chocolate: 10.1%
Chocolate is still a common toxin that deserves its own category. An average of almost 60 cases concerning potential chocolate toxicity were called into the APCC per day last year. (Check out this case at Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital!) If your pet snuck into your child’s Halloween haul or your secret stash, check the chocolate calculator on the ASPCA’s app to determine if your furry friend needs emergency treatment.
#5: Veterinary products: 9.3%
Since all medications are potentially poisonous if administered incorrectly, always check your pet’s medication label carefully and ask us for help if you are unsure about the dose or administration. We’d be happy to demonstrate the correct amount of a liquid or topical medication. Pets also run into trouble when they sniff out their flavored medications. The beef, chicken, marshmallow, or other tasty flavoring may make medicating your pet easier, but can cause trouble if these medications are easily accessible, and your pet eats too much.
#6: Household items: 7.3%
Household items cover a wide range of products, including cleaning chemicals, paint, and glue. While not the tastiest of the toxins listed, pets can be poisoned by these items because of their close proximity, or your pet’s natural curiosity. Although a paint-splattered pup may be adorable, keep all pets well away from the area you’re painting, or your child’s arts and crafts center.
#7: Rodenticides: 6.3%
Rodenticides work in a variety of ways to kill rodents, and can have the same effects on your pet. Anticoagulant rodenticides work by interfering with the activation of vitamin K, a critical component of clotting factors. High bromethalin rodenticide doses can cause a rapid onset of seizures, while low doses can lead to depression, ataxia, and hind-limb weakness. Cholecalciferol rodenticides increase phosphate and calcium levels, and may lead to kidney failure, cardiac abnormalities, and hypertension.
#8: Insecticides: 6.2%
Insecticides encompass a wide class of poisons that kill everything from bees and wasps, to ants and snails. Yard products, bug sprays, and attractants contain ingredients that are hazardous to not only insects, but also to pets. Seek out pet-safe insecticides, or place baits and yard products out of your pet’s reach.
#9: Plants: 5.5%
Many indoor and outdoor plants are poisonous to pets. Before planning your spring garden or bringing a beautiful arrangement indoors, check the ASPCA’s list of poisonous plants to ensure your bloom of choice is safe for your furry friend.
#10: Garden products: 2.3%
Garden products include not only herbicides, but also fertilizers, compost, and bone meal. Chocolate mulch’s delightful aroma can attract dogs, but also can pose a threat.
Not sure if what your pet ate is dangerous? Call Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435. If your pet stumbles across a potentially hazardous substance, call us immediately. We are available for emergency calls until midnight every night.