Each year, veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline review the prior year’s case records to identify specific toxins resulting in the most consults from pet owners and veterinarians. The list below is compliled with the frequency of cases provided in descending order. It is Pioneer Animal Hospital's hope that the information shared in these lists will provide pet owners with information about truly dangerous items found in homes and other areas.
#1. Lilies: Plants in the Lilium species (Easter lily, Tiger lily, Asiatic lily, Oriental lily, others) once again head the list of toxins. Ingestion of just one or two leaves, flower pieces, pollen, or even water from the vase may cause kidney failure in cats. These plants often come into the house as a flowering plant, especially at Easer, or more often, as a flower or two in a mixed bouquet. Anyone who owns or cares for a cat is encouraged to learn to identify these plants and keep them far away from cats. Please visit the educational site, www.noliliesforkitties.com, for toxic lily photos, videos, and lists of pet-safe plants.
#2. Insecticides: The majority of these cases involve spot-on pyrethroid based insecticides that are purchased without a veterinary prescription in many of the larger stores. While these products are generally safe when used as directed, people often fail to read the instructions and use a product not specifically designed for a cat or the cat’s actual body weight. Tremors, seizures, and sometimes death occur when the products are used inappropriately and more rarely, signs occur in a few cats believed to be treated appropriately.
#3. Household Cleaners: Most of the cleaners (window cleaning solutions, dishwashing soaps, dilute bleach, etc.) used in households are fairly safe if diluted appropriately and used as directed. Concentrated products such as toilet bowel, oven, and drain cleaners are not safe and may cause chemical burns to the mouth and esophagus if cats lick or drink the product. It is best to avoid the use of phenol and pine oil containing products as cats are more sensitive to their effects.
#4. Human antidepressant medications: Prozac, Cymbalta, and Effexor topped the list of antidepressants this year. For some unknown reason, cats are attracted to these medications and ingestion can cause severe neurological and cardiac effects. Cat caregivers are advised to keep these medications in closed containers far away from curious animals.
#5. Veterinary and Human NSAIDS: These are grouped together but taken alone each category would occur on the 2016 top ten list. Veterinary specific NSAIDS, often prescribed for post op pain in cats, should be used only for the specific number of days and NSAIDS prescribed for dogs should not be used indiscriminately in cats. Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to human NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and naproxen, developing gastrointestinal upset, GI ulcers and perforation, as well as kidney failure following low doses.
#6. Rodenticides (rat and mouse poison): Curious kittens and cats are ever so good at finding these products in out of the way places (behind the refrigerator, under a cupboard, etc.). Emerging products, such as those containing bromethalin, are highly toxic to cats and may cause brain swelling and fatal paralysis, even if only small amounts were ingested.
#7. Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: While helpful and often necessary for children and adults to perform daily tasks, these products in cats cause tremors, hyperthermia, cardiac problems, seizures, and death.
#8. Chocolate: Mmm, mmm good for humans and bad, bad, bad for cats. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate, seemingly found everywhere now, are the most dangerous and even small amounts are toxic. Milk chocolate, in larger amounts, causes the same signs – vomiting, restlessness, tremors, seizures, and cardiac abnormalities.
#9. Acetaminophen (APAP): Best known as Tylenol, acetaminophen is much more toxic to cats than dogs and nearly any ingested amount is considered toxic. Common signs of toxicity include anorexia, vomiting, brownish discoloration of the gums and other mucous membranes, swelling of the face and paws, respiratory distress, shock, and death.
#10. Onions/Chives/Leeks/Shallots: Ingestion of plants or plant pieces in the Allium species results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells, making the red blood cells more likely to rupture and unable to carry oxygen. Gastrointestinal effects such as anorexia, drooling, and vomiting can also occur.
Did your dog or cat just eat something poisonous? Call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 ($59) for help immediately! The sooner a dog poisoning or cat poisoning is diagnosed, the easier, less expensive, and safer it is for your pet to get treated!
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