National Animal Poison Prevention Week is held the third week in March every year to coincide with National Poison Prevention Week.
National Poison Prevention Week was established in 1961 by Congress; the first National Poison Prevention Week was observed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. The awareness week is always scheduled for the third week in March.
The Five Most Common Pet Toxins
The Pet Poison Helpline released a list of the top five toxins that make up the majority of their calls:
43 percent of calls to Pet Poison Helpline regarding dogs that ate over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications.
The majority of them involved antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Effexor. Of all medications, antidepressants account for the highest number of calls to Pet Poison Helpline, and can cause neurological problems like sedation, lack of coordination, agitation, tremors and seizures.
Common drugs including NSAIDs (e.g. Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin®), acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) and antidepressants (e.g. Effexor®, Cymbalta®, Prozac®) can cause serious harm to dogs and cats when ingested. NSAIDs such as Advil can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure, especially in cats. A single Tylenol tablet containing acetaminophen can be fatal to a cat, and in dogs, a larger ingestion can lead to severe liver failure.
Prescription ADD/ADHD medications, amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse, can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death in pets.
16 percent of calls were for dogs that helped themselves to foods that are safe for humans, but poisonous for dogs.
Chocolate: The most prevalent cases were for dogs that ate chocolate. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous since it contains high amounts of theobromine – a relative of caffeine that can be deadly. Bakers and dark chocolate are the most toxic, and milk chocolate if ingested in large amounts.
Xylitol: Xylitol, a sweetener in sugarless gums and candies, is also very dangerous and can be life-threatening even when ingested in small amounts.
Many people carry chewing gum and don’t realize that, if ingested by a dog, it can be fatal. Most sugarless gums, including some Trident™, Orbit™, and Ice Breaker™ brands, contain xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs.
Some sugarless mints and flavored multi-vitamins may also be made with xylitol. When ingested, even small amounts of xylitol can result in a life-threatening and rapid drop in blood sugar, and if large amounts are ingested, dogs can suffer from severe liver failure.
Signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, collapse, tremors and seizures. Liver damage and bleeding up to 12 hours after ingesting xylitol can also occur.
If your dog eats a product with xylitol, it can take several days in hospital before his blood sugar levels stabilize. The outcome isn’t as good that develop liver damage or bleeding.
Raisins and grapes: Raisins and grapes are often overlooked by dog owners as potentially dangerous, but they are extremely toxic and can cause kidney failure. Other human foods toxic to dogs include macadamia nuts, garlic, onions, yeast-based dough and table salt.
7.5 percent of calls for dogs were because they ate insecticides in the form of sprays, granules, insect bait stations and more. While many household insecticides are well tolerated by dogs, certain potent types such as organophosphates (often found in rose-care products), can be life-threatening even when ingested in small amounts.
6.5 percent of calls for dogs were for dogs that got into mouse and rat poisons, which contain various active ingredients that are poisonous to dogs. Depending on the type ingested, poisoning can result in moderate to severe symptoms. These may cause internal bleeding (brodifacoum, bromadiolone, etc.) or brain swelling (bromethalin), even in small amounts as well as kidney failure and seizures. Only one type of mouse poison (anticoagulant or blood thinner) has an antidote to counteract the effects of the poison. The rest, unfortunately, have no antidote and are more difficult to treat. There is also potential for relay toxicity, meaning that pets and wildlife can be poisoned by eating dead rodents that were poisoned by rodenticides.