Pets and Prescriptions: A Dangerous Mix
Updated: March 23, 2012, 12:04
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Human medications top recent list of harmful pet toxins.
Most responsible pet owners are familiar with the common household substances that can be harmful to their four-legged friends — such as chocolate or insecticides.
But according to a new list released last week by the ASPCA, human medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, are among the most harmful pet toxins, with prescribed medications topping the list.
In 2011, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) handled more than 165,000 phone calls about pets who had been exposed to possibly poisonous substances. And in nearly 26 percent of those calls, pets had accidentally ingested human medications.
To make sure that your house is as pet-friendly and safe as possible, check out the list of the top five toxins that led pet owners to call the APCC in 2011:
1. Prescription human medications. The APCC received almost 25,000 calls regarding pets ingesting prescription human medication. Dogs are especially notorious for ingesting dropped pills. Heart medication made up a large percentage of the calls, along with medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The ASPCA recommends that pet owners always take their pills in a safe place away from their pets, like behind a closed door.
2. Insecticides. About 11 percent of the calls were about insecticides, which include products used on lawns, in homes, and on pets for flea/tick treatment. When using these products, it is crucial that pet owners read and follow the directions on the label to avoid accidental poisoning.
3. Over-the-counter human medications. Almost 18,000 calls were made to the APCC about over-the-counter human medicine, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. These are extremely dangerous to animals and can cause death. Before giving over-the-counter medication to pets, always check with your veterinarian first.
4. People foods. Chocolate is the No. 1 human food ingested by pets — and one of the most dangerous. The APCC received over 7,600 calls about chocolate alone in 2011; an average of 21 calls a day. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate and seizures. The second most common calls were about xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause seizures and liver failure in dogs. Grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are other 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.
5. Household items. Nearly 12,000 calls were made to the APCC about general household items such as paint, fire logs and drain openers. Be aware of what is within your pet’s reach, especially when you aren’t home to supervise. Some items may just cause stomach upset, while others can be deadly.