Toxin or Poison Ingestion

In reviewing more than 180,000 calls about pets exposed to potentially poisonous substances during 2012, the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center has determined the top problem-causing items in our homes for pets:

  1. For the fifth straight year, prescription human medications were the top problem. 25,000 calls were taken during 2012 that listed a pet ingesting a human prescription product as the potential poison.  That’s almost 70 calls per day! The top three medications causing problems were heart medications (such as blood pressure pills), antidepressants and pain medications.
  2. The next most common call to the Poison Control Center listed some sort of insecticide as the issue.  Approximately 19,000 calls were taken and more than half of those calls involved a cat. Our feline friends are very susceptible to ingredients in many of the over the counter and even veterinary products.  Always fully read all labels and check with your veterinarian before using an insecticide on a cat!
  3. Over-the-counter human medications also made the top five with about 18,000 cases recorded.  These products not only include over the counter pain medications, like aspirin or Tylenol, but also herbal and nutraceutical supplements.  It is good practice to keep all medications and supplements in an area your dog can’t access easily.
  4. Coming in at #4 are veterinary products.  Approximately 10,000 calls were received that listed things like flavored chew tabs for pets as the reason for the call.  In many cases, entire bottles of medication were consumed! This is why we always caution people about Rimadyl chewable tablets and recommend they be stored in a closed cabinet and not on a counter.  The same goes for chewable supplements.  We’ve had dogs eat entire bottles of joint supplements.
  5. Finally, household items round out the top five.  Another 10,000 calls listed some sort of household cleaning product as the possible poison.  Many of these items can be corrosive and very irritating to the pet’s GI tract.

Rodenticide or Rat Poison is another very dangerous toxin we see pets ingesting and it is usually fatal if treatment is not administered within 24 to 48 hours. Symptoms include weakness or wobbliness, vomiting blood, or any unusual bleeding, seizures or muscle tremors.  Unfortunately, by the time these symptoms present, it may already be too late for treatment to be effective.  So if you have the slightest suspicion that your pet ingested rat poison, or ingested a rodent who may have ingested rat poison, call us right away!

Dogs are more likely to get into trouble around the house than cats.  The most common reported canine breeds ingesting poisons are: Labrador Retrievers, accounting for 14,000 calls, mixed breed dogs, Chihuahuas, Golden Retrievers and Yorkies.

Cats are more likely to ingest poisonous plants. For more information about toxic foods, including chocolate, and a list of poisonous plants, read our Poison Client Handout