Nearly 180,000 calls involving pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances are handled by animal poison control centers a year. Nearly 20% of these calls are from pet parents whose pets got into medicines intended for human use, putting this category at the top of the toxin list multiple years in row.
In order of call volume the 10 most common pet toxins are:
- Human prescription medications are most often exposed to pets, as mentioned above. The prescriptions that caused the most concern correlated with the most popular medications prescribed to humans.
- Over-the-counter medications, including herbal and other natural supplements, attracted greater concern this year than in previous years resulting in approximately 25,000 calls. This category is exceptionally large, encompassing more than 6,900 different products.
- Insecticides dropped to the third slot this year, comprising 9.1% of calls(15,000 cases). These products can be very dangerous, especially if the label directions are not followed.
- Household items were the cause for concern in more than 13,500 cases, especially paints and cleaning products.
- Human foods are appealing to pets, especially dogs. Dogs can get into serious trouble by ingesting onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and xylitol, a sugar substitute which can be life-threatening for animals. Approximately 13,200 cases involved human foods.
- Veterinary medications made up 7% of total cases. The veterinarians in Markham want our pet parents to be aware that chewable medications are very tasty and pets might ingest an entire bottle if it is not kept out of their reach.
- Chocolate ingestion is very common. Chocolate calls make up 6% of the total call volume—more than 30 calls a day! The darker the chocolate, the more potential it has to do harm.
- Plants represent approximately 5% of the calls and moved up a spot. Most of these calls involve cats and houseplants.
- Rodenticides are made to kill mice and rats, but they can also kill pets if ingested. More than 7,500 calls about rodenticides were made last year.
- Lawn and garden products round out the top ten, accounting for about 2.7% of all calls. Many of these exposures occurred because people did not store lawn and garden products out of the reach of pets.
Based on call volume and their extensive database, here are the top 10 most common toxins for dogs and cats that helplines get called about. Keeping in mind that some of these listed are very toxic, while some are minimally toxic (like ant baits and silica packs) call your veterinarians in Markham or poison helpline when in doubt to make sure there won’t be a problem. Take special care to keep these toxins out of your pet’s reach and pet-proof your house!
- Mouse and Rat Poisons (rodenticides)
- Vitamins and Minerals (e.g., Vitamin D3, iron, etc.)
- NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.)
- Cardiac Medications (e.g., calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, etc.)
- Cold and Allergy Medications (e.g., pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, etc.)
- Antidepressants (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
- Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol)
- Caffeine Pills
- Topical spot-on insecticides
- Household Cleaners
- Insoluble Oxalate Plants (e.g., Dieffenbachia, Philodendron, etc.)
- Human and Veterinary NSAIDs
- Cold and Flu Medication (e.g., Tylenol)
- Glow Sticks
- ADD/ADHD Medications/Amphetamines
- Mouse and Rat Poison
If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these items or any other questionable substance, call your veterinarian in Markham for assistance. Accurate and timely identification of the suspected substance is very important. Having the container, package, or label in hand will save valuable time and may save the life of your pet. The sooner a dog poisoning or cat poisoning is diagnosed, the easier, less expensive, and safer it is to treat your pet.
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Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham
Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.
Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).
Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.