Watertown—September 16, 1961 Congress passed National Poison Control Prevention Week in an attempt to potentially prevent accidents involving poison. National Poison Prevention Week is observed on the third week of March, which is March 17-23 this year.
Each year, approximately 2 million poisonings are reported from 57 poison control centers across the nation. Annually, children under the age of 6 are non-fatally poisoned, while poisoning is one of the leading causes of death in adults. Nonetheless, adults and children are not the only ones that are at risk, but pets as well.
According to Pet Poison Help Line, approximately 91% of animal poisoning cases dealt with curious dogs or cats willing to ingest just about anything. The ASPCA handled over 100,000 pet poisoning cases each year.
1. Human Medications - 43 percent of calls to Pet Poison Helpline in 2012 were for dogs that ate over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. The majority of them involved antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Effexor, and common OTC drugs containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) and NSAIDs (e.g. Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin), which can cause serious harm to dogs when ingested.
2. Human Foods - 16 percent of calls were for dogs that helped themselves to foods that are safe for humans, but poisonous for dogs. The most prevalent cases were for dogs that ate chocolate. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous since it contains high amounts of theobromine – a relative of caffeine that can be deadly. Xylitol, a sweetener in sugarless gums and candies, is also very dangerous and can be life-threatening even when ingested in small amounts. Raisins and grapes are often overlooked by dog owners as potentially dangerous, but they are extremely toxic and can cause kidney failure. Other human foods toxic to dogs include macadamia nuts, garlic, onions, yeast-based dough and table salt.
3. Insecticides - 7.5 percent of calls for dogs were because they ate insecticides in the form of sprays, granules, insect bait stations and more. While many household insecticides are well tolerated by dogs, certain potent types such as organophosphates (often found in rose-care products), can be life-threatening even when ingested in small amounts.
4. Rodenticides - 6.5 percent of calls for dogs were for dogs that got into mouse and rat poisons, which contain various active ingredients that are poisonous to dogs. Depending on the type ingested, poisoning can result in moderate to severe symptoms—anywhere from uncontrolled bleeding, swelling of the brain, kidney failure and seizures. Only one type of mouse poison (anticoagulant or blood thinner) has an antidote to counteract the effects of the poison. The rest, unfortunately, have no antidote and are more difficult to treat. There is also potential for relay toxicity, meaning that pets and wildlife can be poisoned by eating dead rodents that were poisoned by rodenticides.
5. Dietary Supplements and Vitamins - 5.5 percent of calls were concerning dogs that ingested dietary supplements and vitamins. While many items in this category such as Vitamins C, K, and E are fairly safe, others such as iron, Vitamin D and alpha-lipoic acid can be highly toxic in overdose situations. Additionally, Pet Poison Helpline has managed several cases involving xylitol poisoning from sugar free multi-vitamins.
According to ASPCA, if your animal is poisoned call animal poison control at (888)-426-4435 or have your Veterinarian’s phone number on hand.
It is advised that investing in a first-aid kit for your pet with the following items:
· A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)
· A turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
· Saline eye solution
· Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
· Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
· Forceps (to remove stingers)
· A muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)
· A can of your pet's favorite wet food
· A pet carrier