March is National Animal Poison Prevention Month. Every year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) releases a list of the top ten toxins reported to its Poison Control Center.
According to the ASPCA, they handled 181,818 cases in 2015 involving pets exposed to potentially poisonous substances. Almost 16% of those cases were calls from pet parents whose four-legged family members had accessed over-the-counter medications intended for humans. These meds topped the ASPCA’s list of pet toxins for the first time ever. Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director of the Poison Control Center, notes that due to the increase of new vitamins, herbal, and joint supplements in the market over the last year, more pets are being exposed to these types of products.
Human prescription medications, which held the #1 spot in 2014, dropped to #2. Here’s the complete list of the most common pet toxins of 2015, in order of call volume.
1. Over-the-counter medications: More than 28,500 cases of pets ingesting these meds were reported in 2015, involving nearly 7,000 products, including herbal and other natural supplements.
2. Human prescription medications: Pets who ate prescribed medications intended for humans accounted for nearly 16% of all cases, narrowly missing the top spot.
3. Insecticides: More than 15,000 pets ingested insect poisons, making up almost 9% of the cases reported.
4. Human Foods: Food-related cases ranked at #5 last year, but moved up on the list due to more than 14,600 pets (mostly dogs) becoming ill after eating toxic foods such as garlic, grapes, onions, raisins, alcohol, and the sugar substitute xylitol.
5. Household items: Dropping from #4 to #5 this year, household items, especially paint, cleaning products, and fire logs, were the reason for concern in more than 14,000 cases.
6. Veterinary medications: Pets who overdosed on their own medication made up more than 7% of total calls in 2015.
7. Chocolate: Known to be very toxic to pets, chocolate gets its own spot on the list, representing about 7% of the total call volume.
8. Plants: Nearly 5% of pets, mostly cats, became ill after eating indoor and outdoor plants.
9. Rodenticides: Last year, the APCC handled more than 8,100 cases involving rodenticides, compared to 7,500 calls in 2014.
10. Lawn and garden products: Herbicides and fungicides made up 3% of all calls, an increase from 2.7% in 2014.
Substances that are dangerous to your pets appear in many forms and are often present throughout your home. Ensure your pet’s safety by keeping track of toxic household items and stow them securely away from your furry friend’s reach. Taking preventative steps will not only save you a trip to the veterinarian’s office, but could also potentially save your pet’s life.
If you suspect that your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour toll-free number at (888) 426-4435.