Poisoning by human prescription medicines topped the cases handled by the Animal Poison Center for fifth year in a row, according to a list released this week by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA).
Labrador retrievers were the top breed when it came to the number of cases handled by the poison control center in Urbana, Ill. Of about 180,000 cases of pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances in 2012, nearly 14,000 involved Labs.
Following Labs were domestic shorthair cats (10,000 cases), mixed canine breeds (8,000 cases), Chihuahuas (4,833 cases), Golden retrievers (4,819 cases) and Yorkshire terriers (3,800 cases). The call center also handled calls regarding horses, snakes, primates, fish and even a bear last year.
“There is no telling what types of calls we will get on a given day at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, but there are clear trends that surface when we analyze our case data,” said Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the APCC.
“Dogs explore the world with their mouths, so it is not surprising that the overwhelming majority of calls we get are from dog owners. The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular breeds in this country, and evidently they get into the most trouble as well!” (No surprise, perhaps, for followers of the book and movie "Marley and Me.")
According to the ASPCA, the top five calls into its poison center in 2012 were regarding the following toxins:
1. The APCC handled 25,000 cases regarding human prescription medications in 2012. The top three types of medications that animals were exposed to include: heart medications (blood pressure pills), antidepressants and pain medications (opioids and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Many of these exposures were due to people dropping their medication when preparing to take it, and before they knew it, their pet had consumed it.
2. Insecticides: Insecticides are used in the yard, home and on our animals. While only 11 percent of all calls to the APCC are about insecticides, over 50 percent of the calls to the APCC involving cats are about cats exposed to insecticides.
3. Over-the-counter human products: More than 18,000 cases that the APCC fielded regarded over-the-counter human products. This group contains acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen as well as herbal and nutraceutical products (fish oil, joint supplements). Many of these products are tasty to pets, and some can be life threatening if ingested.
4. Veterinary products: Veterinary products made up nearly six percent of the APCC’s case volume for 2012. Both OTC and prescription veterinary products are included in this group. Flavored tablets make it easy to give your pet pain or joint medication, but it also makes it more likely for them to ingest the entire bottle if given the chance.
5. Household products: There were more than 10,000 calls to the APCC about household products in 2012. Household toxins can range from fire logs to cleaning products. Some items can be corrosive, while other can cause obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract requiring surgical intervention.
Toxins completing the list include: people food, chocolate, plants, rodenticides, lawn and garden products, automotive products and bites and stings.
For about a complete list of the top pet toxins of 2012, visit www.aspca.org/apcc. If your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s 24-hour APCC hotline at 1-888-426-4435. Since its opening in 1978, the APCC has handled more than two million cases.
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