Accidental pet poisonings on the rise

Warning: Pet owners need to lock up pills, put out of reach


Accidental pet poisonings are on the rise and some of the most common toxins are medicines their masters take.  That's right, people pills. 

Three examples with dogs: Gatsby ingested an entire bottle of prenatal vitamins. Otis ate calcium chews.  Foster found his way into both Benadryl and ibuprofen.

"He had eaten the container and ingested some of the medicine also," explained Jessica Merchant, Foster's Owner.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ASPCA, says its animal poison control center took more than 180,000 calls last year about pets getting into poisonous substances, with prescription medicines for humans accounting for the majority of the calls.

"When people take their pills, they drop them on the floor, that little dog is just right there to scoop it up. So heart medications are number one. Also we have a very high number of animals eating things like antidepressants and ADHD medications," said Tina Wismer, DVM, DABVT, DABT, with ASPCA Poison Control Center.

Over-the-counter medicines also present problems.

"It only takes one extra strength Naproxen to kill a Shih Tzu-type dog.  Ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure in dogs and cats and acetaminophen can actually cause the blood to change so it can't carry oxygen and cause liver failure," said Wismer.

Supplements make up more of the scares.  They are more popular than ever with people, and now more enticing than ever to animals.

"Companies are constantly making more and more palatable uh supplements uh and the soft gels for example um are made from a gelatin, which is made from cow hide, which might be attractive to an animal," said Tod Cooperman, MD, with ConsumerLab.com.

Dogs are more likely than cats o sniff their way into trouble, with labrador retrievers leading up the canine category. 

But no matter what the breed, how the animal recovers after an accidental poisoning depends on its weight, what kind of medicine it consumed, the prescription strength and how much was ingested.

"I don't think the companies are going to make changes to their products to keep them safe from pets but I think people can certainly be more aware that these can cause problems for their pets," said Cooperman.

Gatsby recovered on his own.  Otis ended up needing an IV.  Foster vomited repeatedly.  So, how can you protect your precious pet?

"Make sure that they can't get on the counters, that the medications are kept in locked cabinets or definitely up high so they can't get to them," warned Wismer.

Another big toxin for pets is insecticides, both the indoor and outdoor options.