By Dr. Sand

Welcome to the latest Pet Dominion blog post! We’ve been on sabbatical for a bit, but plan on bringing you relevant and timely posts for the foreseeable future. On February 7, 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed the third week of March as National Poison Prevention Week. While this proclamation was aimed at us, our quadruped family members deserve just as much attention.

Animals are exposed to potential toxins more frequently than we might think. While we see an uptick in poisonings during the chaos of holidays and family gatherings, everyday life poses its own potential risks. Foods, medications, plants and household products can sometimes have disastrous consequences to our furry friends.

The ASPCA lists the most common animal exposures as over-the-counter (OTC) products, prescription medications, insecticides, people food, household items, veterinary products, chocolate, plants, rodenticides, and garden products.

OTC products like Motrin (ibuprofen) and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) top the most deadly list. Ibuprofen, while safe to use in people, causes renal (kidney) failure in dogs and cats. Long term use can lead to gastrointestinal ulcers and high doses can cause central nervous system signs. 5-HTP is a supplement that raises serotonin levels in the brain and is used for sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety among others. It causes serotonin syndrome in dogs and was the top most deadly toxin in 2015.

Prescription product exposures are common and include a variety of products. While the list is too extensive to detail here, one class tops the most deadly list and has widespread use increasing the risk of exposure.   Amphetamines are a class of drug that includes many ADD/ADHD medications.   Symptoms include seizures and hyperthermia. As with any potential exposure call the Animal Poison Control Center. The number is at the end of this article.

Eating together is a bonding experience and we naturally want to share with our 4-legged friends. While we generally recommend sticking to foods specifically designed for our pets, many foods are actually toxic and should be avoided. These include; alcohol, avocados, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins, yeast based dough, raw/undercooked meats and eggs, xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in chewing gum, peanut butter, and other products), milk/milk based products, and, of course chocolate. Just one ounce per pound of baker’s chocolate is toxic to dogs.

Household and garden plants enrich our homes, but can also become untoward animal exposures. Again detailing the list is beyond the scope of this blog post, but the ASPCA has an excellent mobile app reference. Links are provided at the bottom of the article.

Rodenticides (mouse and rat poisons) are another common animal toxicity. The two most common types fall into the categories of neurotoxins (like bromethalin )or anticoagulants (like brodifacoum). Neurotoxin exposure causes convulsions or seizures usually within hours after ingestion. There is no antidote. Anticoagulants cause fatal bleeding, but not usually until 4-5 days after exposure. There is an antidote available and if administered before clinical signs develop, can be lifesaving.

What to do? After any potential exposure, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. The latter is run through the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Have the type of product and any packaging/labeling handy. If your pet is acting ill in any way, head to your local veterinarian or emergency hospital.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is available 24-hours a day 365 days a year should your pet have a potential exposure. Phone Number: (888) 426-4435.

They also have a mobile app available for download at