National Poison Prevention Week- March 17-23, 2019.
It’s that time of year when the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center examines its data and releases the Top 10 categories of toxins pets come in contact with each year. The data was gathered from about 213,773 cases of potential animal poisonings examined by the APCC in 2018.
Here are the top 10 toxins, beginning with the category which caused the most calls to APCC toxicologists.
1) OTC Medications:
Over-the-counter medications were the most common group of toxicants pets ingested this year. This is a varied group of medications including items such as vitamins, OTC pain medications (acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen), herbal supplements, antihistamines and cold and flu medications. Ingestion of OTC medications are usually accidental, but I have seen owners give too much aspirin for pain, over several days. Last year this was #2, after human prescriptions.
2) Human Prescriptions:
Medications prescribed for people dropped to number two this year. ADHD medications, antidepressants and heart medications make up a significant amount of these cases, which is typically what I have seen, along with birth control and topical hormones. Remember to keep all medications out of reach of pets.
Food is number 3. Xylitol, grapes and raisins, and onions and garlic make up most of these cases. Xylitol is one that I worry about because it is in many sugar free gums, and not harmful for people. Who knew gum could be toxic?
Chocolate moved up another spot from last year! The popularity of chocolate gifts for occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter adds to the danger. If your pet has eaten some chocolate, call us or the poison control center. We have a calculator to determine if the amount and type of chocolate is enough to be toxic. (Dark chocolate is stronger and more toxic)
5) Veterinary Products:
Chewable medications and misread labels are a big reason pets run into trouble with veterinary products. I have had more than one patient eat six months of heartworm prevention at a time. Those are expensive dog “treats.” Make sure to read the prescription labels and keep the containers safe. Just because it is childproof doesn’t mean it is dog proof.
6) Household Items:
This group includes cleaning products, moth balls, batteries, detergents, cigarettes, and alcohol. Or maybe alcohol should be food?
Rodenticide exposure is increased from last year. Unfortunately pets, along with rodents, find baits very tasty. We had a patient die this winter after eating rat bait from a bait station. While anticoagulants and bromethalin baits are still available, cholecalciferol baits made a comeback this year. Rats are tough.
Insecticide exposure cases decreased for the second year in a row . Insecticides includes items such as ant baits, bug sprays and yard products. Ant baits use attractants like peanut butter which unfortunately attract pets as well as ants. I don’t see nearly as many insecticide toxicities as I used to. Thank goodness.
Plants remained in ninth place. Indoor and outdoor plants as well as prepared bouquets can present major problems. The APCC app has lots of helpful information regarding plant exposures as well as other toxins. Would this include marijuana and edibles? I expect to see more therapeutic uses of CBD oil for humans and pets, which seems to have low toxicity.
10) Garden Products:
Garden products still came in last. Fertilizer, bone meal and compost are all garden products many dogs find irresistible. Many pet owners call about herbicides like Roundup, but they usually aren’t tasty, even though we commonly use them in pet areas like yards.