With the change of seasons, many of us clean out our houses and garages to prepare for warmer weather. Unfortunately we may uncover some hidden dangers for our pets. Here are the most common toxin categories reported to the Animal Poison Control Center:
Prescription human medications top the list. These include heart medications, antidepressants, and pain medications. Pills are commonly dropped and found by dogs or cats. Topical products such as hormone replacement creams can also lead to problems if the pet rubs against the treated areas.
Second on the list are insecticides. These may be products used in the yard, home, or on the pets themselves. Cats are very sensitive to many insecticides, and products intended to be used on dogs can be extremely toxic to cats.
Over-the-counter medications are next on the list with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen being the most common problems. Herbal and nutraceutical products fall into this category, and should not be used without the advice of a veterinarian.
The fourth most common toxin category is veterinary medications. Many medications are now flavored to make dosing more convenient. However, some pets will smell the pills within the packaging and eat a large number of pills at once.
Household products are the fifth most common category. This includes a broad range of concerns including cleaning products, chemicals, garbage, and other items that pets ingest leading to intestinal blockages. Antifreeze that may leak from vehicles is sweet, and unfortunately, extremely toxic in very small amounts.
People food is another common category for toxicity. There are many foods that are toxic to pets, but the most common foods to avoid are chocolate, grapes/raisins, xylitol, onions, and macadamia nuts.
Household plants are a common problem, especially for cats. Cats often like to chew on plants or rub near the plants where pollens are transferred to the skin and then ingested during grooming. Lilies are the most common plant toxin reported.
Rodenticides (mouse bait) is a very common problem. Pets are very good at finding these poisons which can cause severe bleeding, kidney failure, or seizures.
The final category is lawn and garden products. Fertilizers made of blood meals, manure, or bone meals are very attractive to pets.
Most households contain a number of toxins for our pets. It is important to always keep these out of reach, and to contact your veterinarian immediately if exposure is suspected. Many toxicities can be treated if caught early.