Top 10 Toxins for 2013
For many people, January is a time for reflecting on the past year and
making positive changes for healthier, more fulfilling and safer
lifestyles. The veterinarians and toxicology experts at Pet Poison
Helpline are helping make 2014 healthier and safer for pets by providing
these “Top Ten Lists” of household items that generated the most poison
consultations for dogs and cats in 2013. While not all items on this
timely list are highly toxic, the list will inform pet owners about the
truly dangerous items in their homes. 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.
Dogs: Top 10 Toxins of 2013
- Chocolate: Dark equals dangerous! Bakers and dark chocolate are the most toxic, and milk chocolate if ingested in large amounts.
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).
Ibuprofen, naproxen, etc., found in products like Advil, Motrin, and
Aleve. Dogs don’t metabolize these drugs well; ingestions result in
stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
- Over the counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen or decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, are particularly toxic.
- Rodenticides (mouse poison): These may cause internal bleeding (brodifacoum, bromadiolone, etc.) or brain swelling (bromethalin), even in small amounts.
- Grapes and raisins: These harmless human foods cause kidney damage in dogs.
- Insect bait stations: These rarely cause poisoning in dogs – the
bigger risk is bowel obstruction when dogs swallow the plastic casing.
- Prescription ADD/ADHD medications:
These amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse
can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death in pets.
- Glucosamine joint supplements: Overdose of tasty products such as
Cosequin and Move Free typically only cause diarrhea; however, in rare
cases, liver failure can develop.
- Silica gel packets and oxygen absorbers: Silica gel packs, found in
new shoes, purses or backpacks, is rarely a concern. The real threats
are the iron-containing oxygen absorbers found in food packages like
beef jerky or pet treats, which can cause iron poisoning.
Cats: Top 10 Toxins of 2013
- Lilies: Plants in the Lilium
species, such as Easter, Tiger, and Asiatic lilies, cause kidney
failure in cats. All cat owners must be aware of these highly toxic
- Household cleaners:
Most general purpose cleaners (e.g., Windex, Formula 409) are fairly
safe, but concentrated products like toilet bowl or drain cleaners can
cause chemical burns.
- Flea and tick spot-on products for dogs:
Those that are pyrethroid based (e.g., Zodiac, K9 Advantix, Sergeant’s,
etc.) cause tremors and seizures and can be deadly to cats.
Cymbalta and Effexor topped our antidepressant list in 2013. Cats seem
strangely drawn to these medications. Beware – ingestion can cause
severe neurologic and cardiac effects.
Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to drugs like ibuprofen and
naproxen. Even veterinary specific NSAIDs like Rimadyl and Meloxicam
should be used with caution.
- Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: These amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death.
- Over the counter cough, cold and allergy medications:
Those that contain acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) are particularly
toxic, as they damage red blood cells and cause liver failure.
- Plants containing insoluble calcium oxalate crystals:
Common houseplants like the peace lily, philodendron, and pothos can
cause oral/upper GI irritation, foaming at the mouth, and inflammation
when ingested, but severe symptoms are uncommon.
- Household insecticides: Thankfully, most household sprays and
powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep curious kitties away
until the products have dried or settled.
- 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.
Copyright Pet Poison Helpline 2013