March is Pet Poison Prevention Month

March is National Pet Poison Prevention Month. It’s a good time for veterinary professionals to educate their clients on the dangers of accidental pet poisonings and how to prevent them.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) can help.

They have a special page with resources for veterinary professionals looking for more information on poisons and pets, including podcasts, a list of plants toxic to pets, and a special Veterinary Lifeline Partner Program that gives veterinarians and veterinary hospitals immediate access to expert staff at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in case of an animal poisoning emergency.

The site also offers RACE-approved online courses on pet poisoning education and prevention.

About one-fifth of all phone calls to the APCC involve pets who’ve accidently swallowed human medications. APCC toxicologists combed through 213,773 calls to compile their list of the top 10 toxins of 2018. Here’s the first half of the list, with the percentage of calls each category represented.

1.       Over-the-counter medications: 19.6%

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications were the most common group of toxicants pets ingested in 2018, with 41,865 cases reaching the APCC. They include vitamins, OTC pain medications (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen), herbal supplements, antihistamines, and cold and flu medications. Ingestion of OTC medications is typically accidental, so it’s important to share the dangers of these common household items with your clients or new adopters.

2.       Human prescriptions: 17.5%

Ingestion of medications prescribed for people dropped to number two in 2018, with 36,916 of total cases. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications, antidepressants, and heart medications make up a significant amount of these cases. Pet owners should be reminded often to keep all medications out of reach of pets.

3.       Food: 11.4%

Food is number three at 24,469 cases. Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic make up most of these cases.

4.       Chocolate: 10.1%

Chocolate moved up a spot from 2017 with 21,635 of APCC cases—working out to almost 60 cases a day. The popularity of chocolate gifts for occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter adds to the danger.

5.       Veterinary products: 9.3%

Flavored medications and misread labels are a big reason pets run into trouble with veterinary products. Make sure you review with clients how they should give medication—and all pet owners should be reminded that childproof does not mean petproof when it comes to containers.

You can read the complete list here.

Photo Credit: © iStock/lightspruch