When most of us think about pet poisonings, we probably think about dogs and cats that roam free outdoors. We might worry about malicious neighbors that put something dangerous out for these pets. Or we might think about animals that get into trash cans or scavenge in other areas where they should not. You may be surprised to know that many of the most common poisons encountered by our pets are present in our homes.
Human Medications Are at the Top of the List of Pet Poisons
Ingestion of human medications is one of the most common complaints seen by both veterinarians and pet poison control centers such as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and the Pet Poison Helpline. Ingestion of these medications may be accidental, such as when a pet owner drops the pills on the floor or mistakes them for the pet’s medication. Poisoning may also occur when a well-meaning but misinformed pet owner gives their pet a human medication that is not safe for pets, such as Advil or aspirin.
Commonly encountered toxicities involving human medications include antidepressants (such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Effexor) and over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, aspirin, and others. Some human dietary supplements and vitamin supplements can be dangerous for your pet as well.
Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your pet any human medication. Mark all pill bottles clearly and store your pet’s medications seperately from your own medications. Retreat to a private area and close the door when taking medications to avoid having a curious pet ingest a dropped pill.
Protect Your Pets from Toxicity by Using Flea and Tick Medications Wisely
Flea and tick medications are another commonly encountered poison. Usually when a pet is poisoned by a flea and/or tick product, it is because the product was used incorrectly. Never use a flea and tick product on your cat unless it is labeled as safe for cats. Many products that are safe for dogs are toxic to cats. By the same token, always choose a product that is appropriate for your dog or cat’s size (i.e. body weight). Never try to save money by buying a product for larger animals and trying to split the product between more than one pet or over more than one treatment period. Always read and follow label directions carefully. Consult your veterinarian for help in choosing the safest and most effective flea and tick medication for your pet.
Plants and Flowers Can Pose a Poison Threat to Your Pet
Many plants and flowers, even cut flowers, can be poison for your pet. For instance, lilies (of the true lily family) are deadly, especially for cats. Not only are these plants deadly in the garden, they are also quite lethal when encountered indoors as potted plants or as cut flowers in a bouquet.
If in doubt about whether a plant or flower is safe, remove it or place it out of your pet’s reach. Remember that cats can gain access to high areas easily so even hanging plants may not be safe.
Pet Poisons from Your Kitchen
Most of us like to treat our pets from time to time. Often, those treats come out of our own kitchens. In most cases, this will not be a major problem. However, there are some foods that are poison for dogs and/or for cats. For instance, grapes and raisins are toxic for our pets. Chocolate also is dangerous. Xylitol can pose a significant risk for our dogs. Macadamia nuts are also dangerous for our dogs. This is only a partial list. There are many other foods and drinks that are toxic for our dogs and cats.
Rodenticides Can Poison Dogs and Cats
Rodenticides are also a common poison. Dogs are most likely to ingest these products but cats also can be affected by eating the poison directly. Pets can also be poisoned by these products by ingesting rodents that have ingested rodenticides. This is most common for cats, but dogs can catch and eat rodents as well.