Posts Tagged ‘Pet Poison Helpline’

The Top Ten Toxins of 2013

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

My tail is between my legs. I am a week late with this blog post. It was meant to time out in conjunction with National Poison Prevention Week which happens to have just ended! Here is some belated, but hopefully interesting and useful information gleaned from the call logs of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Here is their list of the top ten pet toxins in 2013. They are ranked below based on call volume.

1. Prescription human medications: The Animal Poison Control Center received a whopping 27,673 calls regarding exposure to human medications in 2013. The three categories of drugs most commonly implicated included heart medications (including blood pressure pills), antidepressants, and pain medications (opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications). Honestly, I’m surprised that medicinal marijuana wasn’t a front-runner on this list!

2. Insecticides: More than half of the calls pertaining to insecticides involved cats. I certainly know from experience, that many people unwittingly apply “canine only” insecticides to their kitties, thinking that one size fits all. The important lesson here is to always carefully and thoroughly read the product label before applying an insecticide to any living creature.

3. Over-the-counter human medications: This group of drugs included acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and some herbal and nutraceutical products such as fish oil and joint supplements. I can’t even begin to count the number of dogs I’ve treated over the years for gastrointestinal upset and/or kidney failure caused by ibuprofen. Remember, just because it’s good for us doesn’t mean it’s good for our pets.

4. Household products: The toxins reported ranged from fire logs to cleaning products. Some of the chemicals are corrosive to the gastrointestinal tract. Other products are capable of causing an obstruction if swallowed.

5. People food: The biggees here are onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, and the sugar substitute, xylitol. These food products have the potential to cause kidney failure (grapes and raisins), gastrointestinal upset and damage to red blood cells (onions and garlic), and dangerously low blood sugar levels (xylitol).

6. Veterinary products and medications: These products are often flavored in order to make for a more palatable pilling process. The more delectable the medication, the more likely the animal is to eat as many tablets as possible when inadvertently allowed access to the entire bottle. The containers may be childproof, but they’re certainly not resistant to the gnashing and mashing of canine jowls.

7. Chocolate: I’m not sure why this was not included as a “people food”. It’s certainly one of my favorites! Methylxanthine is the substance in chocolate that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremoring, elevation in heart rate, and even seizures. The darker/purer the chocolate is, the greater the potential for toxicity. The lesson here- always be selfish with your chocolate!

8. Rodenticides: These are poisons intended to kill mice and rats. In many cases of accidental pet exposure, the people involved either had no idea how their pet could have been exposed, or they felt certain that there was no way their pet could have accessed the product where it was placed. Pets are pretty darned clever at getting to such tasty stuff. Depending on the type of poison, rodenticide toxicity can present as internal bleeding, seizures, or kidney failure. Here’s the bottom line. If you share your home with a pet, do not use a rodenticide anywhere on your premise. Let your kitties and your terriers do the mousing.

9. Plants: Lilies are the major culprits here. When ingested, they are capable of causing an abrupt onset of kidney failure. The outcome can be favorable, but only with really aggressive therapy that sometimes includes dialysis. Spare yourself this heartache- get rid of any lilies in your yard, and don’t bring any lily containing bouquets or plants into the house. Kitties just love to nibble on them.

10. Lawn and Garden Products: What dog doesn’t love what fertilizers contain- bone meal, manure from all kinds of critters, and, sometimes, even some dried blood. Dogs that eat enough of the stuff will develop some rip roaring gastrointestinal symptoms, and potentially even an obstruction.

Have you ever had to deal with a pet-related toxicity? What happened and how did everything turn out?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Pet Poisons

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

The telephone call I hope you never have to make is to a pet poison control center. If the situation does arise, however, I hope you will have the appropriate contact information close at hand.

Two poison control organizations that I strongly recommend, and which are available to you 24/7 are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center  (1-888-426-4435) and the Pet Poison Helpline  (1-800-213-6680). If uncertain if your pet has ingested or been exposed to something that is toxic, call one of these organizations right away. You will either be fully reassured or instructed on what course of action to take.

The Pet Poison Helpline recently released their “top ten list” of toxicities based on calls received during 2011. They are ranked below in order of frequency:

Top Ten Toxins Reported in 2011 Helpline Calls

  1. Foods- specifically chocolate, xylitol, grapes, and raisins.
  2. Insecticides- sprays, bait stations, and spot on flea and tick treatments.
  3. Rodenticides (mouse and rat poisons). By the way, rodenticides pose the potential for relay toxicity- pets can be poisoned by eating rodents that have died from the toxin.
  4. Human nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
  5. Household cleaning products (all the more reason I don’t like to clean- could be harmful for my pets!).
  6. Antidepressant drugs prescribed for people (Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and Effexor).
  7. Fertilizers including bone meal, blood meal, and iron based products.
  8. Acetaminophen which is the active ingredient in Tylenol and many over the counter cough and cold remedies.
  9. Amphetamine based human drugs including Adderall and Concerta.
  10. Veterinary nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications (particularly those that are in tasty chewable tablet form) including Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Previcox.

Just for fun, I will provide you with two other top ten lists created by the Pet Poison Helpline.

Top Ten Breeds Involved in 2011 Helpline Calls

  1. Mixed breeds
  2. Labrador Retrievers (Why am I not surprised!)
  3. Golden Retrievers
  4. Chihuahuas
  5. Yorkshire Terriers
  6. Dachshunds
  7. ShihTzus
  8. Boxers
  9. Beagles
  10. German Shepherds

Top Ten Dog Names Involved in 2011 Helpline Calls

  1. Bella
  2. Lucy
  3. Max
  4. Molly
  5. Daisy
  6. Bailey
  7. Charlie
  8. Lily
  9. Maggie
  10. Sadie and Buddy were tied for tenth place!

Have you ever had to call a poison control center for your pet? If so, please tell us about your experience.

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.