Household Poisons

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has taken calls on over 850,000 individual poisoning cases.

Their top 5 reasons for calls about pet poisons in 2007 were:

1. Human Medications – APCC call centers received over 89,000 calls in 2007 regarding pets that had ingested human medications (prescription and over-the-counter). Pets should never be given human medications without consultation of a veterinarian. All medications should also be kept well out of paw ’s reach and never left out.

2. Pesticides – Over 26,000 calls were made over household chemicals used to kill bugs and rodents as well as prescription pet medications used in the control of fleas and ticks. Always keep household pesticides well-sealed and in places that can’t be accessed by inquisitive pets or children; a locked cabinet or drawer is ideal.

3. Foods – While we may not usually think of foods as toxic, some of the things we enjoy can be harmful to our pets. Chocolate is the biggest culprit (accounting for about half of food cases) but other toxins include grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, avocado, coffee and any products sweetened with xylitol (mainly sugar-free gum). Be aware that some of our pets (dogs especially) will help themselves if foods are left where they can get to them.

4. Biological Hazards – This category mainly relates to poisonous plants. There are several species of household plants that can be dangerous to our pets. The 10 most common vegetative villains (in order of most to least common) are: lilies, marijuana, Sago Palm, tulip, narcissus bulbs, azalea, rhododendron, oleander, castor bean, cyclamen, kalenchoe and yew. Do some research on your household and outdoor plants.

5. Veterinary Drugs – Some might think this an unlikely candidate, but veterinary drugs can be just as dangerous as human drugs if not given appropriately. The most common overdose is of the chewable type of tablets that are becoming increasingly common for many meds, especially anti-inflammatories and heartworm medications. While these are often easier to give to our pets, they can also make for a tasty treat if accidentally discovered. There have even been cases where a dog will chew through the plastic bottle to get to some of these medications. As with all medications, keep veterinary meds in a safe place, away from pets and children.

In any case of suspected poisoning, contact your local veterinarian immediately and call the APCC (888-426-4435) to get your case assessed by a toxicology expert.