The veterinarians and toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline tallied up the various types of toxins that prompted the most calls for help in 2013, and released the following lists. Chocolate, Xylitol and pain killers top the list for most harmful toxins in dogs, while lilies, general purpose cleaners, and flea and tick prevention treatments for dogs top the list for most harmful toxins to cats.
Top 10 toxins for dogs
- Chocolate: Dark equals dangerous! Bakers and dark chocolates are the most toxic, and milk chocolate can be dangerous if ingested in large amounts.
- Xylitol: This sweetener commonly found in sugarless chewing gum and candy, medications and nasal sprays causes a rapid drop in blood sugar and can progress to liver failure in dogs.
- NSAIDs: Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen which are found in products such as, Motrin, Tylenol, Advil and Aleve, are not easily metabolized by dogs; ingestion can result in stomach ulcerations and kidney failure.
- Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen or decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, are particularly toxic.
- Rodenticides (Rat Bait): These may cause internal bleeding (warfarin, brodifacoum, bromadiolone) or neurologic disorders such as seizures, depression, hind limb weakness or tremors (bromethalin), even in small amounts. Cats are actually more sensitive than dogs to the bromethalin but ingestion by dogs is more common.
- Grapes and raisins: These harmless human foods cause kidney damage in dogs.
- Insect bait stations: These rarely cause poisoning in dogs—the bigger risk is bowel obstruction when dogs swallow the plastic casing.
- Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: Amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death in pets.
- Glucosamine joint supplements: Overdoses of these sometimes tasty products typically only cause diarrhea; however, in rare cases, liver failure can develop.
- Oxygen absorbers and silica gel packets: Iron-containing oxygen absorbers found in food packages like beef jerky or pet treats can cause iron poisoning. Silica gel packs, found in new shoes, purses or backpacks, is rarely a concern.
Top 10 toxins for cats
- Lilies: Plants in the Lilium species, such as Easter, Tiger, and Asiatic lilies, cause kidney failure in cats. All cat owners need to be made aware of these highly toxic plants, says Pet Poison Helpline experts.
- Household cleaners: Most general-purpose cleaners (Windex, 409) are fairly safe, but concentrated products such as toilet bowl or drain cleaners can cause chemical burns.
- Flea and tick spot-on products for dogs: Those that are pyrethroid-based (Zodiac, K9 Advantix, Sergeant’s) cause tremors and seizures and can be deadly to cats. Usually this toxicity is caused by accidental application of the canine products on
- Antidepressants: Cymbalta and Effexor topped Pet Poison Helpline’s antidepressant list in 2013. Cats seem strangely drawn to these medications, which can cause severe feline neurologic and cardiac effects upon ingestion.
- NSAIDs: Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen. Even veterinary-specific NSAIDs such as carprofen (Rimadyl) and meloxicam ( Metacam) should be used with caution.
- Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: These drugs have the same toxic effects in cats as in dogs.
- Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen are particularly toxic to cats, as they can damage red blood cells and cause liver failure.
- Plants containing insoluble calcium oxalate crystals: Common houseplants such as peace lilies, philodendron and pothos can cause oral and upper GI irritation, foaming at the mouth and inflammation when ingested, but severe symptoms are uncommon.
- Household insecticides: Most of these household sprays and powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep cats away from plants after application until the products have dried or settled.
- Glow sticks and glow jewelry: These irresistible “toys” contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate. When it contacts the mouth, pain and excessive foaming occurs, but the signs quickly resolve when the cat eats food or drinks water.
If your dog or cat is exposed to or ingests any toxins on this list, DO NOT WAIT to seek treatment. Call VETMED immediately. We are available 24/7 and you can call us on the way at 602-697-4694.