THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Protecting your pet from accidental poisonings

By Deborah Kotz
Globe Staff / February 7, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

A few months ago, Merissa Hamilton arrived home to Boston from a work trip and found her year-old Yorkshire terrier frantically running back and forth across the apartment, unable to be consoled even with treats. Turns out Toulla had ingested Adderall, a stimulant drug used to treat her roommate's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Most likely one of the tiny pills had fallen on the floor, only to be later discovered by the 3.5-pound dog. Fortunately, quick treatment at the animal hospital using IV fluids along with activated charcoal to absorb the drug enabled Toulla to make a speedy recovery.

Some of the 167,000 pet owners who last year called the 24-hour poison control hotline run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals weren't so lucky.

"Pets that ingest human medications can become blind, develop heart problems, and experience acute kidney damage," says Dr. Jules Benson, a veterinarian for Petplan, a pet insurance company. "These effects can be reversible but treatment needs to be implemented in the first few hours."

Human medications were, in fact, the number one reason for pet poisonings, according to the ASPCA. (Here's our photo gallery with their top 10 list.) Tylenol is far more toxic to animals than ibuprofen and aspirin, says Benson, though you need to keep all medications out of your pet's reach, including those stray pills that fall on the floor. And, yes, dogs can chew through those plastic bottles of children's Tylenol.

Insecticides were the number two poison: It appears some owners spray their cats with products not designed for animal use. A definite no-no.

And mice and rat bait can poison your pets; not only do the grain-based toxins attract rodents, but cats and dogs as well.

"People" food like chocolate, onions, grapes and raisins can also be poison to dogs and cats, which have different digestive enzymes than humans. "Make sure not to feed your pet scraps from the table," says Benson.

That includes those juicy bits of steak meat. The fat content in the beef can give a small dog like Toulla a painful case of pancreatitis.

Of course, pet medications can also be poisonous if your animal overdoses on them. "A lot of the time these drugs are formulated to taste like treats so pets will seek them out," says Benson. "And pets, like kids, really don't know what's good or bad for them."

It really comes down to using common sense, he adds. Keep medications, chemicals, and food locked away or high up out of your pet's reach. And secure your garbage cans if your pet gets into them.

If your animal develops any signs of poisoning like vomiting or diarrhea, call the ASPCA's poison control hotline at (888) 426-4435.A few months ago, Merissa Hamilton arrived home to Boston from a work trip and found her year-old Yorkshire terrier frantically running back and forth across the apartment, unable to be consoled even with treats. Turns out Toulla had ingested Adderall, a stimulant drug used to treat her roommate's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Most likely one of the tiny pills had fallen on the floor, only to be later discovered by the 3.5-pound dog. Fortunately, quick treatment at the animal hospital using IV fluids along with activated charcoal to absorb the drug enabled Toulla to make a speedy recovery.

Some of the 167,000 pet owners who last year called the 24-hour poison control hotline run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals weren't so lucky.

"Pets that ingest human medications can become blind, develop heart problems, and experience acute kidney damage," says Dr. Jules Benson, a veterinarian for Petplan, a pet insurance company. "These effects can be reversible but treatment needs to be implemented in the first few hours."

Human medications were, in fact, the number one reason for pet poisonings, according to the ASPCA. (Here's our photo gallery with their top 10 list.) Tylenol is far more toxic to animals than ibuprofen and aspirin, says Benson, though you need to keep all medications out of your pet's reach, including those stray pills that fall on the floor. And, yes, dogs can chew through those plastic bottles of children's Tylenol.

Insecticides were the number two poison: It appears some owners spray their cats with products not designed for animal use. A definite no-no.

And mice and rat bait can poison your pets; not only do the grain-based toxins attract rodents, but cats and dogs as well.

"People" food like chocolate, onions, grapes and raisins can also be poison to dogs and cats, which have different digestive enzymes than humans. "Make sure not to feed your pet scraps from the table," says Benson.

That includes those juicy bits of steak meat. The fat content in the beef can give a small dog like Toulla a painful case of pancreatitis.

Of course, pet medications can also be poisonous if your animal overdoses on them. "A lot of the time these drugs are formulated to taste like treats so pets will seek them out," says Benson. "And pets, like kids, really don't know what's good or bad for them."

It really comes down to using common sense, he adds. Keep medications, chemicals, and food locked away or high up out of your pet's reach. And secure your garbage cans if your pet gets into them.

If your animal develops any signs of poisoning like vomiting or diarrhea, call the ASPCA's poison control hotline at (888) 426-4435.

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on The Boston Globe's Daily Dose blog.)