Top pet toxins for 2013


The veterinarians and toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline have released their top 10 list of household items that generated the most poison consultations for dogs and cats in 2013. The items below are presented in order of frequency, with number one being the item that caused the most emergency calls to Pet Poison Helpline.

The content for this year’s feline top 10 list did not change from last year, Associate Director Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, tells dvm360. However, this is the first year canine joint supplements have cracked the list for dogs. “While, mostly, these have limited toxicity, rare reports of liver failure have occurred with massive overdose,” Brutlag says. “Many vets are not aware of this.” Grapes and raisins also won their own place on the canine top 10 list, which Brutlag attributes to increased awareness among pet owners. Here are the top pet toxins of 2013:

Top 10 toxins for dogs

1) Chocolate: Dark equals dangerous! Bakers and dark chocolate are the most toxic, and milk chocolate can be dangerous if ingested in large amounts.

2) Xylitol: This sweetener found in sugarless chewing gum and candy, medications and nasal sprays causes a rapid drop in blood sugar and liver failure only in dogs (not cats).

3) NSAIDs: Ibuprofen, naproxen and so on, found in products such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve, are not easily metabolized by dogs; ingestions result in stomach ulcers and kidney failure.

4) Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen or decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, are particularly toxic.

5) Rodenticides (mouse poison): These may cause internal bleeding (brodifacoum, bromadiolone and so on) or brain swelling (bromethalin), even in small amounts.

6) Grapes and raisins: These harmless human foods cause kidney damage in dogs.

7) Insect bait stations: These rarely cause poisoning in dogs—the bigger risk is bowel obstruction when dogs swallow the plastic casing.

8) Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: Amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death in pets.

9) Glucosamine joint supplements: Overdoses of tasty products such as Cosequin and Move Free typically only cause diarrhea; however, in rare cases, liver failure can develop.

10) Oxygen absorbers and silica gel packets: Iron-containing oxygen absorbers found in food packages like beef jerky or pet treats can cause iron poisoning. Silica gel packs, found in new shoes, purses or backpacks, is rarely a concern.

Top 10 toxins for cats

1) Lilies: Plants in the Lilium species, such as Easter, tiger, and Asiatic lilies, cause kidney failure in cats. All cat owners need to be made aware of these highly toxic plants, say Pet Poison Helpline experts.

2) Household cleaners: Most general-purpose cleaners (Windex, 409) are fairly safe, but concentrated products such as toilet bowl or drain cleaners can cause chemical burns.

3) Flea and tick spot-on products for dogs: Those that are pyrethroid-based (Zodiac, K9 Advantix, Sergeant’s) cause tremors and seizures and can be deadly to cats.

4) Antidepressants: Cymbalta and Effexor topped Pet Poison Helpline’s antidepressant list in 2013. Cats seem strangely drawn to these medications, which can cause severe feline neurologic and cardiac effects on ingestion.

5) NSAIDs: Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Even veterinary-specific NSAIDs such as carprofen and meloxicam should be used with caution.

6) Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: These drugs have the same toxic effects in cats as in dogs.

7) Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen are particularly toxic to cats, as they damage red blood cells and cause liver failure.

8) Plants containing insoluble calcium oxalate crystals: Common houseplants such as peace lilies, philodendron and pothos can cause oral and upper GI irritation, foaming at the mouth and inflammation when ingested, but severe symptoms are uncommon.

9) Household insecticides: Most of these household sprays and powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep cats away from plants after application until the products have dried or settled.

10) Glow sticks and glow jewelry: These irresistible “toys” contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate. When it contacts the mouth, pain and excessive foaming occurs, but the signs quickly resolve when the cat eats food or drinks water.


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