Most pet owners go the extra mile to make sure their animals are happy and healthy. Still, even in loving homes, pets will sometimes ingest something that can cause them harm. Knowing what medicines and chemicals are harmful to pets is the first step of prevention.
The veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline recently took inventory of the most common dog emergencies in 2011.
"Each year we examine our records to determine what contributed to the most calls from pet owners and veterinarians," said veterinarian Justine Lee, associate director of veterinary services for Pet Poison Helpline. "Since we spent the most time diagnosing and specifying treatments for dog-related emergencies, we've broken them down and produced a Top 10 list designed to educate dog owners and provide veterinarians with the latest facts and statistics."
The results, said Kathy Wahlers, director of marketing, "will arm pet owners and veterinarians with vital information to keep pets safe in 2012."
The helpline is available 24 hours, seven days a week, for pet owners and veterinary professionals needing assistance with treating a potentially poisoned pet. The per-incidence cost is $39.
Here are the Top 10 causes of dog emergencies of 2011.
Chocolate, xylitol, grapes/raisins. Certain types of chocolate are very toxic to dogs. The darker and more concentrated the chocolate is, the more dangerous it is. Xylitol, a sweetener found in many sugarless gums and candies, is also dangerous to dogs. Raisins and grapes can result in kidney failure.
Insecticides. Ingestion of insecticides and pesticides, especially those that contain organophosphates, can be life-threatening to dogs, even when ingested in small amounts. While spot-on flea and tick treatments work well for dogs, they can be very toxic to cats when not applied appropriately. Cat owners should read labels carefully, as those that contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids (a derivative of the chrysanthemum flower), are severely toxic if directly applied or ingested.
Mouse and rat poison (rodenticides). Poisoning can result in internal bleeding, brain swelling, kidney failure or even severe vomiting and bloat. Mouse and rat poisons also pose the potential for relay toxicity, meaning pets can be poisoned by eating dead rodents poisoned by rodenticides.
NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These common pain relievers for humans, also known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers and kidney failure in animals.
Household cleaners. Strong acidic or alkaline cleaners such as toilet bowel cleaners, lye, drain cleaners, rust removers and calcium/lime removers are potentially hazardous.
Antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Effexor. When ingested by dogs, these human drugs can cause neurological problems including sedation, incoordination, agitation, tremors and seizures.
Fertilizers including bone meal, blood meal and iron-based products. Certain organic products that contain blood meal, bone meal, feather meal and iron may be especially dangerous to dogs. Large ingestions can cause severe pancreatitis or even form a concretion in the stomach, obstructing the gastrointestinal tract.
Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, and cough/cold medications. Sizeable ingestions of acetaminophen can lead to severe liver failure and even dry eye in dogs. It is a more significant threat to cats, as a single Tylenol tablet can be fatal.
Amphetamines such as Adderall and Concerta. Even minimal ingestions by dogs of these human drugs can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems.
Veterinary pain relievers including Rimadyl, Dermaxx and Previcox. If ingested in large amounts, these can result in severe gastric ulceration and acute kidney failure in dogs.
For more information, visit petpoisonhelpline.com or call 800-213-6680.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...