March is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month. Hundreds of thousands of pets ingest potentially toxic substances every year. If your pet ingests poison, acting fast can save his life. Many of the most common poisons can be treated relatively easily, but time is of the essence.
Do you know what the most common pet poisons are? You might be surprised.
Nearly 13% of Americans take antidepressants. That means that millions of pets live in homes where human antidepressant medication is present. Accidental ingestion of antidepressant (SSRI) medication can cause damage to a pet’s central nervous system, lead to inappetence, or even cause something known as “serotonin syndrome.”
2. Anti-Inflammatory Medications
Anti-inflammatories are one of the most common toxins to pets. Human NSAIDs like ibuprofen are incredibly toxic to both dogs and cats and can actually lead to complete kidney failure. Never, ever give your pet an over-the-counter human medication without checking with your vet first!
Xylitol is a chemical sweetener frequently found in low-calorie foods and sugar-free gum. Xylitol causes the pancreas to release insulin which can lead to hypoglycemia, a potentially deadly condition in dogs. Xylitol poisoning happens quickly, and just an hour can make all the difference.
4. Vitamin D Overdose
Ingesting too much vitamin D can throw off your pet’s calcium and phosphorus balance. For the most part, vitamin D overdoses occur when pets eat rodenticides, but they can also happen through food. Symptoms include vomiting, increased urination, and even seizures.
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Yes, plants is a broad category but it’s also one of the most commonly reported to pet poison hotlines. Different plants are toxic to different animals, but azaleas, lilies, Sego palms, and tulips tend to be the biggest culprits of pet toxicity. It’s important to know which house plants are poisonous before you bring them home, but also to keep an eye on your pet when outdoors.
From all the press it gets, you’d think chocolate was the most common poison for dogs. It is indeed one of the most common, partly because it’s so prevalent. The amount of theobromine in chocolate determines its toxicity, and dark chocolate has more than milk or white chocolate.
7. Household Cleaners
A little less than 10% of all calls to poison control hotlines are in regards to common household cleaners. Everything from laundry detergent to toilet bowl bleach can be harmful to dogs and cats if swallowed, so be sure to keep yours well out of reach.
8. Pet Medication
Your pet’s own medication may be his biggest threat! Accidental overdoses of commonly prescribed veterinary medications can be very dangerous for your pet, but so too can inappropriate applications. Cats who’ve been accidentally treated with dogs’ flea and tick medication, for example, is one of the absolute most common calls to poison hotlines.
Think your pet has been exposed to a known toxin? Contact a pet poison control hotline immediately for advice then take your vet to an emergency veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Remember, time is of the essence!