From the Vet: Human prescriptions – the most common pet poison

Dr. David Gross
Dr. David Gross

According to the records of the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) of the ASPCA. for the seventh year in a row human prescription medications top the list of potential toxins most commonly ingested by pets. The APCC handled more than 167,000 cases in 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are currently available, and 26,407 of those cases (about 16 percent) were from owners whose pets snatched and gobbled medications prescribed for family members.

Dogs and cats explore the world with their mouths, similar to small children. Unlike small children, our pets are strong enough and agile enough to locate and secure pill containers then chew through them to consume the contents. Dogs are especially attracted to containers they observe their owners handling on a daily basis. Notice Fido watching you the next time you take your pills. What happens if you drop one? Do you retrieve it faster than your pet?

Over-the-counter medications, including herbal and other natural supplements, are also potential toxicants. Toxicity is all about dose per size and many natural products are innocuous in doses appropriate for adults but can be toxic for smaller pets. These products resulted in more calls in 2014 than in previous years (about 25,000 calls) and there are over 6,900 different products that comprise this category.

— By Dr. David Gross

A retired veterinarian, Dr. David Gross has published “Animals Don’t Blush” (Book Publishers Network), “Man Hunt” (Whiskey Creek Press), “Succeeding as a Student” (Book Publishers Network), and “Travels with Charlize” (Book Publishers Network). He is currently working on a memoir of the year his family spent in Mexico while he worked for the FAO of the UN at the UNAM veterinary school just prior to the 1968 Olympics.

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