Accidental ingestion of medications (pet or human drugs), rodenticide and methylaxanthine toxicity (chocolate, caffeine) were the top three sources of pet poisoning between 2005 and 2009, according to Veterinary Pet Insurance, which recently analyzed its database of more than 485,000 insured pets to find the sources behind the hundreds of poisoning claims submitted to the Brea, Calif.-based company every month.
Policyholders spent more than $6.6 million during that four year period treating their pets for poisoning, VPI noted. Accidental ingestion of pet or human medications cost policyholders an average of $791 per claim. Heavy-metal poisoning came out costing the most at an average of $952 per claim.
“Not only can a poisoning incident be life-threatening for the pet, it’s traumatic for the pet owner as well,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Depending on what substance the pet has ingested and the amount, the reaction can be sudden with the animal exhibiting alarming symptoms such as staggering, vomiting, drooling, seizures and even loss of consciousness.
“We recommend that pet owners be aware of which items around their homes can be harmful to their pets—medications, insect poisons, chocolate and certain nuts—and keep these items safely out of reach.
“Also, they shouldn’t assume that their pets will ignore that bottle of bleach in the laundry room or the Philodendron plant by the window. Our data shows this just isn’t so.”
VPI recommends that pet owners be prepared for such emergencies. For example, owners should keep the phone number of their pets’ regular veterinarian and a phone number for an emergency veterinary hospital handy at all times, according to VPI.
For details on pet-poisoning prevention and poisoning first-aid, visit the Pet Poison Helpline at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.