It’s Poison Prevention Week! With so many potential hazards in our homes and yards, this is the perfect opportunity to Paws to Protect your pet from preventable poisonings. Take a look around your house and verify that poisonous items are out of reach from all your pets. Not sure what your pet can get into? Think like a parent with children – pets don’t necessarily “know better” and they are curious. Taking extra steps to put things out of reach, lock cabinets, and keep pets away from known toxins can go a long way in protecting your pet.
Of course we could go on and on with seemingly endless lists of items that could be poisonous to your pets. The ASPCA has made it a little easier to talk about high priority items. Each year the ASPCA publishes the top 10 toxins of the year, and 2017’s list has just been published. Take a look:
- Human Prescription Medications (17.5%): There is a wide range of medications in this group, but some of the more common medications included pain medications, antidepressants, and heart medications. Pets ingesting this medications typically did so accidentally, but it is important to note that pet owners will unintentionally administer wrong medications to pets. It is always best to check with your pet’s veterinarian before administering any type of medication to him or her.
- Over-the-counter medications (17.4%): Again, a wide variety of medications are in this group, including things like vitamins, pain medications, herbals, probiotics, antihistamines, and cold/flu medications.
- Food (10.9%): Pets cannot always tolerate human foods. In addition to avoiding specific foods that are toxic to pets (e.g. grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, alcohol, raw yeast bread dough, avocados, macadamia nuts, chocolate, etc.), it is also important to read labels for things such as xylitol.
- Veterinary products (8.9%): Flavored products for pets are particularly important to consider and keep well out of reach of curious pets. Flavoring helps owners administer the medication successfully – but if the pet loves the taste, he or she may ingest the whole package or bottle if left unattended.
- Chocolate (8.8%): Amazingly, the ASPCA reports that the organization fielded more than 48 calls per day about chocolate in 2017! Keep chocolate out of reach of pets. And remember, as the percentage of dark chocolate increases, so does the risk of danger for your pet.
- Household items (8.6%): Items such as paint, glue, cleaning and laundry products are in this group. Laundry pods are a big risk for pets. Not only can they cause gastrointestinal signs, pets can also aspirate the contents (inhale the substance into the lungs) and develop respiratory disease (aspiration pneumonitis) leading to possible death.
- Insecticides (6.7%): This includes products like ant baits, bug sprays, and yard products.
- Rodenticides (6.3%): These products can either have mechanisms that are anticoagulant, or neurotoxic – both of which can have devastating effects if your pet ingests the substance.
- Plants (5.4%): This category is huge. Always check to be sure houseplants are non-toxic to plants. The ASPCA has a searchable toxic plant database. Additionally, pets who go outside unsupervised are at risk for ingesting plants or plant parts of toxic outdoor plants.
- Garden products (2.6%): This category includes things such as fertilizer, bone meal, compost, (all of which seem to be tasty to dogs!) and herbicides.
Are you interested in learning more about ways to protect your pets from poisonings? Visit our Paws to Protect: Pet Safety section. Additionally, the ASPCA and Pet Poison Helpline websites have a large amount of helpful information about plant poisons. And remember, if your pet has ingested or been exposed to something toxic, the sooner your pet gets veterinary attention the better!
Author: Dr. Clarissa Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS