01 February 2011

No Advil for Fido, ASPCA releases list of most toxic substances for pets

It may seem like common sense advice - don't let your pets sneak any of your son's ADHD medication - but it's advice worth listening to. According to the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) our household darlings come into contact with some pretty toxic substances that could potentially poison them. Some instances are pure accidents such as dropping a pill on the floor, and others are the result of improper use of chemicals and substances.

It is household medication designed for human consumption, though, that tops the list of the ASPCA's Harmful Pet Toxins, for the third straight year. Personally I was a little surprised to see this at the top of the list. As a kid we had a dachshund who routinely ate the cold medicine I didn't want, survived eating a bag of M&Ms, devoured a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and even broke into a bottle of aspirin and sucked them down before we could stop her. And lest you think dogs not being allowed to eat chocolate is a myth, it appears as number 6 on the list of toxins this year. But freak weenie dogs aside, apparently the medications made for humans as well as several other household items can have severe implications for our furry family members.

The list of toxins includes, in order of most cases to least: Human Medication, Insecticides, Rodenticides, People Food, Veterinary Medications, Chocolate, Household Toxins, Plants, Herbicides and Outdoor Toxins.

Human medications, although tested extensively on animals before being offered to humans, can cause everything from diarrhea to organ failure to death in household animals. Ibuprofen can lead to bleeding stomach ulcers in dogs eventually leading to kidney failure and even death. Here is a list of the top 10 human medications that affect household pets. Portioning out medications over a tray or over the sink with the stopper engaged is a good way to prevent your drugs from falling into the mouths of your pets. And if you don't want them because they don't taste good - which was my reasoning - for goodness sakes don't give them to your dog!

Insecticides and rodenticides are both pet poisoning cases where the intent is actually to poison something else entirely. The creepy crawlies that make your dog itchy or the hungry mice who keep your cat running around the kitchen are often pests we seek to be rid of. Unfortunately, in our quest to purify our houses we can be somewhat overzealous at times. the ASPCA sites improper use of insecticides as the cause for cat poisoning. In other words, be careful to read labels thoroughly before applying anything to your animals fur or skin. Some flea bombs aren't meant to come in contact with non-target animals. The rodenticides can hurt your pets the same way they hurt the mice you are targeting. The grain base of the poison attracts the taste buds of your pets - so just as your are careful to keep rodenticides away from your own food area, ensure they don't end up where your pets will be likely to eat them.

People food and chocolate may seem like a joke but there are several foods that can make your pets quickly regret inhaling whatever they found on the floor. I had always heard that garlic was a no-no for pets and I try not to fling it around my kitchen when I cook but I didn't know it, as well as onions, could cause anemia. Grapes and raisins are also listed. They cause kidney failure in dogs! Just another good reason why you shouldn't feed pets from the table! But they look so cute when they beg....I know.

Wait veterinary medicines? You mean drugs for animals? Yep! Just as people can overdose so can animals. The ASPCA sites the medicines scrumptious taste as being the culprit here. As in, the drugs taste so good your pet thinks they are treats. I would like to bring out exhibit weenie dog again to express my skepticism on this item. Ariel the weenie dog could eat chocolate like it was dog food but she knew what a pill was. We wrapped those pills in every sort of treat imaginable. She would dutifully take the pill in her mouth, suck off the cheese, bread, ground beef, ect, and then promptly spit out the pill. This dog was in no danger of over-dosage. But in all seriousness, reading labels for dosages is an important part of keeping your pets healthy. Now if you can just convince them of the tastiness of said pills.

Household toxins include bleach and other corrosive detergents used for cleaning. These can hurt your animals mouths and stomachs. Consider switching to non-toxic options like baking soda, lemon, and vinegar. They will be better for your health as well!

Plants, herbicides and outdoor toxins might seem like no concern for the house animals in your life but unfortunately they are. Cats in particular have a tendency to gnaw on plants but be sure to keep them away from lilies as they can quickly develop kidney failure. Pets of all types seem to love to lick the salt off your skin. Unfortunately, the saltiness of pesticides will fit right in to this little fetish. Keep these substances away from your pets. Ditto outdoor toxins like antifreeze.

In the event that your pet does come in contact with a poisonous substance be sure to call your veterinarian or you can call the 24 hour Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Lacey Walker | @quinoaween
Lacey is a food photographing, French speaking, English teaching, travel enthusiast. She's been known to cut a rug. She's also been known to spend all day in bed eating vegan waffles and talking to her cat Hibou. Follow Lacey on her blog and Flickr.

Photo credit: Lacey