Accidental ingestion of human medications is the leading cause of pet poisonings, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says.
The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Illinois, which handled more than 140,000 cases in 2008, says other top causes of poisoning include pets being exposed to toxic household substances and eating certain people foods.
"Keep all medications in a cabinet," ASPCA veterinary toxicologist Helen Myers states in a media release. Over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen as well as antidepressants and decongestants are all harmful to pets, she said.
The ASPCA managed more than 50,000 calls in 2008 involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications dropped on the floor.
The ASPCA has compiled a list of the top 10 leading causes of pet poisonings in 2008. After people medications, the list includes:
- Insecticides, especially those involving the misuse of flea and tick products such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species.
- People food, such as like chocolate, grapes, raisins, avocado and certain citrus fruits that can cause serious illness or even death.
- Rodent pesticides, especially those used for mice and rats, that are baited with food that pets unknowingly snatch.
- Veterinary medications, which are often often misapplied or improperly dispensed by pet parents.
- Chemicals, such as antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool chemicals.
Common house plants, such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera which are toxic to pets if ingested.
- Household cleaners, such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants which can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.
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- Heavy metals, such as lead, zinc and mercury found in paint chips, linoleum and lead dust.
- Fertilizer, which can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs.