Top Ten Poisons
reported by ASPCA’s Poison Control Center
With various dangers
lurking in corners and cabinets, the home can be a minefield of poisons
for our pets. In 2009, the Animal Poison Control Center handled more
than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which
included everyday household products. Don’t leave it up to Fido or
Fluffy to keep them safe. Below is a list of the top 10 pet poisons that
affected our furry friends in 2009.
For several years, human medications have
been number one on the list of common hazards, and 2009 was no
exception. Last year, 45,816 calls involved 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 it’s essential to keep meds tucked away in
our effort to battle home invasions by unwelcome pests, we often
unwittingly put our furry friends at risk. In 2009, toxicologists
fielded 29,020 calls related to insecticides. One of the most common
incidents involved the misuse of flea and tick products—such as applying
the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, it’s always
important to talk to your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any flea
and tick control program.
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
offenders—chocolate—contains 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.
Common houseplants were the
subject of 7,858 calls 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.
veterinary medications are intended for pets, they’re often misapplied
or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents. In 2009, 7,680
cases involving animal-related preparations such as non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers,
antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements.
Last year, 6,639 calls were
about pets who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons.
Many types of bait 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.
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, 4,143 calls
were related to household cleaners. These products, when inhaled by our
furry friends, can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and
irritation to the respiratory tract.
It’s not too much loud music that constitutes our
next pet poison offender. Instead, it’s 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.
may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer and garden
products can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Last year,
2,329 calls were fielded related to fertilizer exposure, which can cause
severe gastric upset and possibly gastrointestinal obstruction.
In 2009, there were
approximately 2,175 cases of pet exposure to chemical hazards. A
category on the rise, chemical hazards - found in ethylene glycol
antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals -
form a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause
gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and
Prevention is really key to avoiding accidental
exposure, but if you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic,
please contact your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control Center’s
24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.