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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Safety

Overlooked household item causes most pet poisonings

Many pet poisonings are caused by cleaning products, pesticides and fertilizer, but your dog and cat are actually in more danger or getting seriously ill or even killed from another common household item.
This item - found on tables, desks and counters in virtually every household – is the leading cause of pet poisonings. It is just waiting to be snatched and ingested by curious dogs and cats. This frequently overlooked household item is your own medications.
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According to the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, human prescription medication were the leading cause of accidental pet poisonings in 2012, and they have been at the top of the list since 2008. Human non-prescription medications were the third leading cause of pet poisonings in 2012.
So the best way to lower your pet's risk of accidental poisoning is to put human medications in a place that is inaccessible to your dog or cat, ASPCA veterinary toxicologist Helen Myers states in a media release. "Keep all medications in a cabinet," Dr. Myers advises. Over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen as well as antidepressants and decongestants are all harmful to pets, she said.
The other leading causes of pet poisonings in 2012 were: insecticides, second; veterinary medications and products, fourth; household products, fifth, people food, sixth; chocolate, seventh; plants, eight; rodenticides; ninth; lawn and garden products, 10th. The ASPCA’s list is based upon 180,000 calls made to its Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Illinois.
Human medications

The most common culprits include over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, cold medications, dietary supplements, antidepressants and ADHD medications. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so it’s essential to keep medications tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.

Insecticides are commonly used on pets for flea and tick control or around the house to control crawling and flying bugs. The most serious poisonings occurred when flea and tick products not labeled for use in cats were applied to them, so the ASPCA recommends pet owners always follow label directions.

Some species of animals can be particularly sensitive to certain types of insecticides, so it is vital that you never use any product not specifically formulated for your pet,” Dr. Steven Hansen, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Animal Health Services, says. He advises to consulting with a veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.

Baits used to kill mice and rats are mostly grain-based, which manes they attract dogs and cats as well as rodents. Several different types of rodenticides can cause seizures, internal bleeding, or kidney failure. The ASPCA recommends keeping these products out of the reach of pets.

People food

Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are foods commonly ingested by pets. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, while onions and garlic can cause anemia if enough is ingested. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free gums and mints, can cause low blood sugar and liver failure in dogs. Avocado and certain citrus fruit can also seriously harm pets. Chocolate is one of the most dangerous because it contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures.

Veterinary medications

Many pet medications are often flavored to make it easier to administer them , so they can be so tasty that pets may ingest the entire bottle if they get hold of it. Common chewable medications include arthritis and incontinence medications. Always contact your veterinarian or the APCC if your pet ingests more than its proper dose of medication.
Other leading causes of pet poisonings are:
  • Chemicals, such as antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool chemicals.
  • Household cleaners, such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants which can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.
  • Heavy metals, such as lead, zinc and mercury found in paint chips, linoleum and lead dust.
  • Fertilizer, which can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs.
Common house plants are another leading cause of pet poisonings, according to the ASPCA. Plant such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are toxic to pets if ingested. Just one or two sago palm nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and even liver failure,” Dr. Hansen said. “Also, lilies are highly toxic to cats. Even in small amounts they can produce life-threatening kidney failure.”

Pet owners must learn about the many toxic substances that can harm their pets, ASPCA President Ed Sayres states in a media release. “Our animal companions depend on us to be informed and protect them from danger.”
The Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hot line can be reached 888-426-4435.


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