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Pet poisonings from e-cigarettes grow

Pet poisonings involving e-cigarettes are on the rise.
Pet poisonings involving e-cigarettes are on the rise.
Marc Selinger

The increasing use of electronic cigarettes is fueling a “sharp uptick” in pet poisoning cases linked to the nicotine-delivery devices, according to an animal poison control center.

The Pet Poison Helpline said Sept. 3 that the number of e-cigarette-related poisoning calls it receives has more than doubled over the past six months. In the past year, the helpline has managed at least 55 cases involving e-cigarettes, said veterinarian Ahna Brutlag, the center’s associate director of veterinary services. While dogs accounted for a majority of the incidents, several cases involved cats.

Pets become poisoned by chewing the battery-powered vaporizers or ingesting liquid nicotine solution used to refill the devices. Nicotine poisoning can rapidly sicken or kill pets, and prompt veterinary care is needed, the helpline said. Pet parents are encouraged to keep such products out of reach of their animals.

“Nicotine poses a serious threat of poisoning to dogs and cats, and e-cigarettes back a powerful punch,” the helpline said. “The problem is that many pet owners don’t realize it.”

Other nicotine products, such as traditional tobacco cigarettes, cigars, nicotine gums, lozenges and patches, still make up a majority of the helpline’s nicotine cases, Brutlag said. In the past year, the center has managed 278 nicotine cases. Nine of those involved cats.

In 2013, the household items that generated the most emergency calls to the helpline were lilies for cats and chocolate for dogs.

Based in Minneapolis, the helpline provides advice for treating poisoned animals. The 24-hour, fee-based service can be reached in the United States and Canada by dialing 1-800-213-6680.

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