It’s no secret that cats and dogs get into mischief, which may result in potentially hazardous situations. Between cleaning products and medications, rodenticides and fertilizers, your home, garage, and garden are rife with toxins that can harm your furry pal. Fortunately for your pet, the team at Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services (AIMSS) and Animal Emergency Services (AES) is always standing by, ready to leap into action to provide life-saving care. We are always open, day or night, to provide emergency services to the pets in the San Francisco Bay area. So, if your four-legged friend sneaks into your secret chocolate stash in the middle of the night, we’re here to handle the hyperactivity, vomiting, and diarrhea that go with a chocolate binge. 

Chocolate is one of the poisonous substances that regularly make the ASPCA’s list of 10 most common pet toxins, which the organization creates annually by tallying the phone calls their Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) receives each year. For 2019, the following 10 toxins made the list.

#1: Over-the-counter (OTC) medications

OTC medications cover a broad range of products commonly found in homes, such as ibuprofen, Tylenol, cold medicine, and herbal supplements. Pets sometimes sniff out these products in purses and bags, but more frequently they cause problems because pet owners give them to their pet for a minor limp, or a sneeze or cough, or as an overall health-boosting supplement. However, cats and dogs do not metabolize medications the same way people do, and many OTC products are highly toxic. 

#2: Human prescription medications

Like OTC medications, human prescription medications, such as cardiac, thyroid, and antidepressant medications, can adversely affect your furry companion. While these products are knowingly given to pets less commonly than OTC medications, human prescription medication toxicity cases often occur when a pet snatches a pill dropped on the floor, or discovers a bottle and chews it apart.

#3: Food

Whether a pet steals food off the counter, or a well-meaning friend gives your furry pal a snack, food ranks third in the list of most common pet toxicities. Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and protein bars make up the bulk of these cases.

#4: Chocolate

Although chocolate is a food, it receives its own special category, because the ASPCA receives so many reports about this sweet treat. They come mostly around the holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, that are known for dishing out mounds of chocolate that pets can easily sneak.

#5: Veterinary products

Since many pets are not fans of taking medications, flavored chewable or liquid options are available for easier administration. Unfortunately, when the medication becomes too tasty, pets may eat the entire bottle if left in paws’ reach. If your pooch loves their beef-flavored heartworm preventive, ensure you always hide the package well out of their reach.

#6: Household products

We expect to see this category move up on the list when the ASPCA releases the 2020 results. With so many people tackling projects while under stay-at-home orders, paint, adhesives, spackle, and a variety of toxic chemicals and substances are littering homes undergoing repairs and improvements. Pets are curious creatures, and will stick their noses into unusual substances, which may spell disaster. When working on your home or using cleaning chemicals, keep your pet confined in a separate area.

#7: Rodenticides

Most people think of clotting issues when rodenticides are mentioned, but some types can harm the heart, kidneys, or neurologic system, depending on the ingredients. Rodenticides can also cause dangerous second-hand poisoning if your pet eats a rodent that is dying or dead from a rodenticide. 

#8: Plants

Many plants pose a toxic threat to pets, but the most common plant toxicity is lily exposure in cats. All parts of the lily are highly toxic to cats, including the pollen, and can cause rapid kidney failure. Before bringing home a bright bloom, or filling your garden with gorgeous plants, check out the ASPCA’s guide to toxic and non-toxic plants.

#9: Insecticide

Common insecticides include wasp and hornet sprays, ant bait, and DEET-laced mosquito repellent. With safer products becoming more readily available, this category is dropping on the list.

#10: Garden products

Fertilizers, herbicides, and mulch all put pets at risk. Many pets find organic fertilizers delicious, so carefully read the instructions with garden products, to determine whether the product can be used safely around pets. 

What should I do if my pet ingests a poisonous substance?

If your pet ingests, or is exposed to, a toxic substance, first contact the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at 888-426-4435. Their team of knowledgeable veterinary toxicologists will instruct you on the steps you need to take. If they recommend heading to an emergency veterinary hospital, such as AES, they will give you a case number that will allow our veterinarians to contact them for further information and treatment advice.

Never make your pet vomit without first checking with our hospital or the APCC. Some toxic substances are caustic, and will cause more harm to your pet if vomiting is induced. If you notice vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, unexplained bleeding, lethargy, drooling, or an irregular heartbeat in your pet, they may have been exposed to a toxin, and will require immediate veterinary care.

As the only 24-hour pet emergency hospital in the San Francisco Bay area, you can always rely on AIMSS and AES to provide urgent care for your beloved companion. If your mischievous furry pal has ingested a poisonous substance, contact us immediately.