VPI Lists Top Dog and Cat Poisoning Claims

A recent analysis of hundreds of poisoning claims reveals that medication tops the list.

Posted: August 3, 2010, 3 a.m. EDT

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Human and pet medication, followed by rodenticide and methylaxanthine toxicity topped the list of accidental poisonings in cats and dogs.

Accidental ingestion of medications (pet or human drugs), rodenticide and methylaxanthine toxicity were the top three sources of dog and cat poisoning between the years 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 within that four year period treating their dogs and cats 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 should it arise. 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.

Pet Poison                                                                                Number of Claims Received
                                                                                                Between 2005 and 2009

Accidental Ingestion of Medications (pet or human drugs)          5,131

Rodenticide (mouse and rat poison)                                                4,028

Methylaxanthine Toxicity (chocolate, caffeine)                                 3,661

Plant Poisoning                                                                                     2,808

Household Chemicals                                                                         1,669

Metaldehyde (snail, slug poison)                                                         396

Insecticide                                                                                                 323

Heavy Metal Toxicity (lead, zinc)                                                             288

Toad Poisoning                                                                                        270

Antifreeze Poisoning                                                                                213

Walnut Poisoning                                                                                     100

Alcohol Toxicity                                                                                              75

Strychnine                                                                                                       28

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VPI Lists Top Dog and Cat Poisoning Claims

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Reader Comments

Anon    City, CA

8/4/2010 7:44:34 PM

Thanks for the stats!

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

8/3/2010 10:58:00 PM

Good to heed.

julie    lewiston, ME

8/3/2010 7:10:00 PM

Thank yo so much for this article. I think everyone should know this for the safety of their furry loved ones.

Holly    Stouffville, ON

8/3/2010 5:04:16 PM

Thanks for the article and stats!! Keep your pets safe everyone.

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