In 2012, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Illinois, handled more than 180,000 cases about pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances.
Topping the toxins list for the fifth year in a row are prescription human medications.
1. Prescription Human Medications
The APCC handled 25,000 cases regarding human prescription medications in 2012. The top three types of medications that animals were exposed to include: heart medications (blood pressure pills), antidepressants and pain medications (opioids and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Many of these exposures were due to people dropping their medication when preparing to take it, and before they knew it, Fido had gobbled the pill off the floor.
Insecticides are used in the yard, home and on our animals. While only 11% of all calls to the APCC are about insecticides, over 50% of the calls to the APCC involving cats pertain to felines exposed to insecticides. Always read the label before using any insecticide on your pet, in your home or in your yard.
3. Over-the-Counter Human Medications
More than 18,000 cases that the APCC fielded in 2012 regarded over-the-counter human products. This group contains acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen as well as herbal and nutraceutical products (fish oil, joint supplements). Many of these products are tasty to pets, and some can be life threatening if ingested.
4. Veterinary Products and Medications
Veterinary products made up nearly 6% of the APCC’s case volume for 2012. Both OTC and prescription veterinary products are included in this group. Flavored tablets make it easy to give your pet pain or joint medication, but it also makes it more likely for them to ingest the entire bottle if given the chance.
5. Household Products
There were more than 10,000 calls to the APCC about household products in 2012. Household toxins can range from fire logs to cleaning products. Some items can be corrosive, while other can cause obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract requiring surgical intervention.
6. People Food
More than 5% of our cases in 2012 were related to the ingestion of people food. One particularly common food accidentally ingested by pets is xylitol (the sugar substitute). Xylitol can cause seizures and liver failure in dogs.
Chocolate is still the number one people food that pets ingest (we received over 8,500 calls last year). Too much chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate and seizures.
More than 7,000 cases in 2012 were pet parents calling about their animals eating plants. This is one category that cats lead dogs in the number of exposures. Lilies can cause kidney failure and death in cats. Please see our list of toxic/non-toxic plants for more information.
When putting out baits to kill mice and rats, never underestimate the resourcefulness of your pet. Nearly 4% of calls to the APCC in 2012 were related to baits. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestion can cause internal bleeding, kidney failure or seizures.
10. Lawn and Garden Products
Fertilizers, which can be made of dried blood, poultry manure and bone meal, are very attractive to pets, so it is not surprising that we get many calls (almost 3,600 in 2012) on lawn and garden items.
If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.