Every year the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) examines its data and releases the top 10 categories of toxins that affect pets. The 2017 list was based on 199,000 cases of potential poisonings.
Do they match the cases you saw in your practice last year? Here they are, along with their percentage totals:
1. Human prescription medications: 17.5%
For the second year in a row, human prescription medications is at the top of the list, just barely beating out over-the-counter medications and supplements. While this group contains a wide range of medications, the most common ones people call APCC about are pain medications, antidepressants and heart medications. Ingestion of the medications are typically accidental, but pet owners also unintentionally give pets the wrong medication at times.
2. Over-the-counter medications: 17.4%
As in 2016, OTC medications made second place. This is a diverse group of medications including items such as vitamins, pain medications (acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen) along with vitamins, herbals, probiotics, antihistamines and cold and flu medications. Like human prescription medications, most exposures are accidental. Making sure pet owners are educated about how to keeping these out of pets reach is crucial.
3. Food: 10.9%
Pets may not be able to safely ingest some of the same foods humans eat. Grapes and raisins, onions and garlic, avocados, macadamia nuts, alcohol, raw yeast bread dough and xylitol can all be dangerous for pets. The popularity of xylitol in items like gum and baked goods has continued to keep this group near the top of the list.
4. Veterinary products: 8.9%
Many pets have health issues that need medications, but many pets don’t take medication well, hence the popularity of flavored and chewable medications. Since dogs and cats have a much sharper sense of smell than humans, they will seek out and overindulge in those medications.
5. Chocolate: 8.8%
While chocolate is a food, APCC gets so many calls about the confection that it gets its own spot on the top 10 list. In 2017 we fielded more than 48 calls a day about chocolate! Dogs in particular are chocolate fiends and are very good at finding it. The popularity of chocolate gifts for occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter increases the danger.
While insecticides come in at No. 7 again, the percentage of calls was down from 2016. Insecticides includes items such as ant baits, bug sprays and yard products. Ant baits use attractants like peanut butter which unfortunately attract dogs as well as ants.
8. Rodenticides: 6.3%
In 2017, APCC saw a slight increase in calls regarding rodenticides from the previous year. These baits are often grain-based and very appealing to pets. While anticoagulant rodenticides are still available, bromethalin, a neurotoxin, is also commonly seen.
Garden products are another category that many pets find very tasty. Fertilizer, bone meal and compost are all garden products dogs find irresistible. APCC also gets a fair number of calls about herbicides. While not as tasty, use of herbicides in areas that pets frequent is usually the cause of those calls.