Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2008
With various dangers lurking in corners and cabinets, the home can
be a minefield of poisons for our pets. In 2008, the ASPCA Animal
Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, IL, handled more than 140,000
cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included
everyday household products. Don�t leave it up to Fido or Fluffy to
keep themselves safe. Below is a list of the top ten pet poisons that
affected our furry friends in 2008.
For several years, human medications have been number one on the
ASPCA�s list of common hazards, and 2008 was no exception. Last year,
the ASPCA managed more than 50,000 calls involving prescription and
over-the-counter drugs, such as painkillers, cold medications,
antidepressants and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials
from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally
dropped on the floor, so it�s essential to keep meds tucked away in
In our effort to battle home invasions of unwelcome pests, we often
unwittingly put our pets at risk. In 2008, our toxicologists fielded
more than 31,000 calls related to insecticides. One of the most common
incidents involved the misuse of flea and tick products�such as
applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, it�s
always important to talk to your pet�s veterinarian before beginning
any flea and tick control program.
People food like grapes, raisins, avocado and certain citrus fruit
can seriously harm our furry friends, and accounted for more than
15,000 cases in 2008. One of the worst offenders�chocolate�contains
large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant
amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst,
urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm,
tremors and seizures.
Last year, the ASPCA received approximately 8,000 calls about pets
who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons. Many baits used to
attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to
pets as well. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead
to potentially life-threatening problems for pets, including bleeding,
seizures and kidney damage.
Even though veterinary medications are intended for pets, they�re
often misapplied or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents.
In 2008, the ASPCA managed nearly 8,000 cases involving animal-related
preparations such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm
preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional
Common houseplants were the subject of nearly 8,000 calls to the
Animal Poison Control Center in 2008. Varieties such as azalea,
rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are often
found in homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic
to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small
In 2008, the Animal Poison Control Center handled approximately
5,500 cases of pet exposure to chemical hazards. A category on the
rise, chemical hazards�found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint
thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals�form a substantial
danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal
upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.
Everybody knows that household cleaning supplies can be toxic to
adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets
from common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Last
year, the ASPCA received more than 3,200 calls related to household
cleaners. These products, when inhaled by our furry friends, can cause
serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory
It�s not too much loud music that constitutes our next pet poison
offender. Instead, it�s heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury,
which accounted for more than 3,000 cases of pet poisonings in 2008.
Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many
sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead
dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded.
It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer can
cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Last year, the ASPCA fielded
more than 2,000 calls related to fertilizer exposure. Prevention is
really key to avoiding accidental exposure, but if you suspect your pet
has ingested something lawn-side, please contact your veterinarian or
the Animal Poison Control Center�s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.