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Accidental pet poisonings are on the rise

Accidental pet poisonings are on the rise

By Vince Vitrano, Stephanie Graham. CREATED May 2, 2013

Gatsby ingested an entire bottle of prenatal vitamins.  Otis ate calcium chews, and Foster found his way into both Benadryl and Ibuprofen.

Foster's owner Jessica Merchant adds, "He had eaten the container and ingested some of the medicine also."

The American Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says its Animal Poison Control Center took more than 180,000 calls last year about pets getting into poisonous substances, with prescription medicines for humans accounting for the majority of those calls.

Tina Wismer is with the Poison Control Center.  She explains, "When people take their pills, they drop them on the floor, that little dog is just right there to scoop it up. So heart medications are number one. Also we have a very high number of animals eating things like antidepressants and adhd medications."

Over the counter medicines also present problems.  Wismer warns, "It only takes one extra strength naproxen to kill a shih tzu type dog.  Ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure in dogs and cats and acetaminophen can actually cause the blood to change so it can't carry oxygen and cause liver failure."

Supplements make up more of the scares.  They are more popular than ever with people, and now more enticing than ever to animals, explains Dr. Tod Cooperman with consumerlab.com.

"Companies are constantly making more and more palatable supplements, and the soft gels for example um are made from a gelatin, which is made from cow hide, which might be attractive to an animal," Dr. Cooperman says.

Dogs are more likely than cats to sniff their way into trouble, with labrador retrievers leading up the canine category.  No matter the breed, how the animal recovers after an accidental poisoning depends on its weight, what kind of medicine is consumed, its prescription strength and how much they ingested.

"I don't think the companies are going to make changes to their products to keep them safe from pets, but I think people can certainly be more aware that these can cause problems for their pets," Cooperman adds.

Gatsby recovered on his own, Otis ended up on an IV, and Foster vomited repeatedly.  How can you protect your precious pet?  Wismer suggests, "Make sure that they can't get on the counters, that the medications are kept in locked cabinets or definitely up high so they can't get to them."

Another big toxin for pets is insecticides, both the indoor and outdoor options.