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 Chocolate: Chocolate is often in the leading position on the top ten list and this year is no exception. Dogs seem to love the taste and rapidly eat any amount available. Dark chocolate, present in so many candy bars and treats, and baker’s dark chocolate are the most dangerous. Milk chocolate, in larger amounts, is also harmful and when ingested results in similar signs – vomiting, restlessness, tremors, seizures, and cardiac abnormalities.
#2 Rodenticides: Dogs, whether household or outdoor dogs, can develop poisoning when they play with and eat a rodenticide product. Depending on the specific rodenticides even small amounts, when eaten, may cause internal bleeding (anticoagulants such as brodifacoum and bromadiolone), brain swelling (bromethalin), or hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia with resultant organ damage (cholecalciferol).
#3 Xylitol: Xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol often used as a sugar substitute in chewing gums, breath mints, and baked goods, causes severe drop in blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and liver failure (hepatic necrosis) in dogs. New products on the market such as nasal sprays, OTC sleep aids, multivitamins, prescription sedatives, antacids, stool softeners, smoking cessation gums, and more may contain unexpectedly large amounts of xylitol. Dogs that ingest these products face a double risk—not only may poisoning result from the active ingredient but also from the xylitol. This can result in a variety of serious and unanticipated clinical signs which can readily complicate clinical treatment and prognosis.
#4 Insecticides: The majority of these cases involve spot-on pyrethroid-based insecticides that are purchased without veterinary guidance or designed to be used on the lawn or garden. While dog-specific products are generally safe when used as directed, people may fail to read the instructions and use a product designed for a larger dog on a small dog or use them in combination with other insecticides. Also, dogs may chew into a bag of outdoor use insecticide granules and ingest large amounts. Ataxia, tremors, seizures, and sometimes death occur when the products are used inappropriately and rarely, signs occur in a few dogs believed to be treated appropriately.
#5 NSAIDs: Dogs are not able to metabolize or breakdown these products (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) as well as human beings and ingestions often result in gastrointestinal problems such as anorexia, vomiting, and ulcers and kidney failure.
#6 Grapes/Raisins/Currants/Sultanas: Grapes, raisins, sultanas, and even currants (some currants are actually small, black grapes) are toxic to dogs. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, currants, or sultanas can cause anorexia, vomiting, and severe acute kidney failure (several days after ingestion). All types of grape or raisin containing products, including grape juice, trail mix, breads, and breads, when eaten, result in similar signs and should never be fed to dogs.
#7 Household Cleaners: Dogs are especially good at licking up spills on floors or drinking from unattended buckets. Fortunately, most of the household cleaners, especially window cleaning solutions, dishwashing soaps, and dilute bleach, 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 dogs lick or drink the product.
#8 Cosmetics/Personal Care: This list of products fitting into this category is quite long and incudes colognes, deodorants, talcum powder, moisturizers, lipsticks, mascara, and many other items. For the most part these are safe items. Some of the colognes and perfumes may contain ethanol resulting in lethargy and depression, especially in smaller dogs drinking a larger amount. Foreign body obstruction is a distinct possibility if chewed up mascara wands, lipstick tubes, and other objects are swallowed and don’t pass through the gastrointestinal tract.
#9 Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) alone or in combination with other over the counter cough and cold products have a narrow safety margin in dogs and should not be used unless prescribed by a veterinarian. Acetaminophen poisoning in dogs is associated with anorexia, vomiting, and liver damage. Some dogs develop methemoglobinemia and CNS signs such as lethargy and coma secondary to liver failure.
#10 Fertilizers: Most fertilizers contain varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (potash) as indicated by the three numbers on the packaging (i.e., 30-10-10). They may also contain other minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, boron, manganese and molybdenum, some of which may be toxic in large concentrations. Additionally, fertilizers may also contain herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides which increases the risk of poisoning. While small ingestions of fertilizer may only result in mild stomach upset, larger ingestions can result in severe poisoning from the iron, nitrogen and other chemicals. Large ingestions of meal-based fertilizers (i.e. bone or blood meal) may also form a concretion in the stomach resulting in a bowel obstruction or severe and painful inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
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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