My friend’s dog has a drug problem. If there are Nyquill gel caps anywhere in the apartment, she will seek them out and snarf down as many as she can. Which leads to said friend panicking and having to call pet poison control, pay $65 to discuss what happened and then mix up a dish of hydrogen peroxide and peanut butter per their instructions to make her throw up the meds. It’s not fun, and she’s not alone — a new study says accidental pet poisonings in the U.S. are on the rise.
Of course, pet owners should do everything they can to lock up meds out of reach of nosy pets. But sometimes, as was the case with my friend, accidents happen — someone leaves a backpack on the floor or knocks a bottle off a table, and pets can be quick.
According to a study from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (via the Wall Street Journal) its Animal Poison Control Center had more than 180,000 calls about poisonous substances in 2012, which is a 7% increase from 2011.
But plenty of pet owners rush right to the vet instead of calling a hotline, so the problem could be even worse than those numbers indicate. The good news is that the ASPCA’s stats indicate that the rate of pet deaths is rather low, at 0.2% of the cases it receives. Not every call can be followed up on though, so again, the numbers could be higher.
The ASPCA’s call centers handle calls about all kinds of toxins ingested by our pets, but human meds and supplements are definitely the most common, with prescriptions accounting for the majority of calls in the last five years. After that it’s insecticides, followed by over-the-counter medications and supplements.
Owners should stay alert — even if you don’t have any prescriptions or rodenticides lying around, just one OTC pill like an acetaminophen can kill cat, notes one vet the WSJ talked to. Pills are becoming more tempting to pets as well, as some supplements use beef cartilage or shellfish.
And then those are those tempting, soft capsules. Dogs often have a sweet tooth, notes another vet, and they’re less picky than cats when it comes to eating unknown substances.
“Our pets have such good noses that even though the bottle is closed, they can smell the stuff,” she explains.
To best prevent accidental poisoning, vets say to act like your pet is a child (not difficult for many people, we know). Lock’em up and only consume them when your pet isn’t nearby to grab one if you should happen to drop it. Keep the pet poison control number and your vet’s information close by just in case.
When Pills and Medicines Get Into the Wrong Paws [Wall Street Journal]