Our homes are chock full of pet poisons — and they’re not just the obvious, like rat poison or that can of Comet.
In 2009, the ASPCAs Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products. Below is their list of the top 10 pet poisons that affected Fluffy and Fido in 2009:
For several years, human medications have been number one on the ASPCAs list of common hazards, and 2009 was no exception. Last year, the ASPCA managed 45,816 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so its essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.
In our effort to battle home invasions by unwelcome pests, we often unwittingly put our furry friends at risk. In 2009, our toxicologists fielded 29,020 calls related to insecticides. One of the most common incidents involved the misuse of flea and tick productssuch as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, its always important to talk to your pets veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.
People food like grapes, raisins, avocado and products containing xylitol, like gum, can seriously disable our furry friends, and accounted for more than 17,453 cases in 2009. One of the worst offenderschocolatecontains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures.
Onions and garlic contain N-propyl disulphide, which is poisonous to cats. Onions or garlic in low amounts will cause Heinz anemia in felines. The condition causes a reduced red blood cell count, which leads to weakness and lethargy.
Common houseplants were the subject of 7,858 calls to APCC in 2009. Varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are often found in homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.
Even though veterinary medications are intended for pets, theyre often misapplied or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents. In 2009, the ASPCA managed 7,680 cases involving animal-related preparations such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements. Always consult your vet before giving your pet ANY kind of supplement.
Last year, the ASPCA received 6,639 calls about pets who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons. Many baits used to attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to pets as well. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets including bleeding, seizures or kidney damage.
Animals who ingest poisoned rodents will succumb to the poison, too. This includes your cat(s) and birds of prey.
Everybody knows that household cleaning supplies can be toxic to adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets from common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Last year, the ASPCA received 4,143 calls related to household cleaners. These products, when inhaled by our furry friends, can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract. Additionally, cats who lick their paw pads after walking atop a floor treated with household cleansers are vulnerable to poisoning.
No, you don’t have to stop listening to Led Zepp (though Fluffy might appreciate it if you lowered the decibels a bit). Its heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury, which accounted for 3,304 cases of pet poisonings in 2009. Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded.
It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer and garden products can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Last year, the ASPCA fielded 2,329 calls related to fertilizer exposure, which can cause severe gastric upset and possibly gastrointestinal obstruction. Cocoa mulch can be poisonous when large amounts are consumed — usually more of a problem with dogs than cats.
In 2009, the ASPCA handled approximately 2,175 cases of pet exposure to chemical hazards. A category on the rise, chemical hazardsfound in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicalsform a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.
Prevention is really key to avoiding accidental exposure, but if you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Centers 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.
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