Grapes and raisins are still killing dogs, and lilies are still killing cats. Chocolate, xylitol, prescription drugs and other items can be life-threatening, and life-saving treatment can rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars in veterinarian bills.
None of this is new information, but many people still don't know that our houses and yards are full of things that can sicken or kill pets.
Only 34 percent of pet owners know that cocoa mulch is toxic, according to a survey conducted by Petplan insurance. Only 16 percent know that tulip bulbs are dangerous, and that's a new one for me. A total of 67 percent knew the dangers of grapes, xylitol in sugar-free candy and gum, diced onions and coffee grounds. This marks the first time I've heard that coffee grounds are bad, so keep an eye on kitchen trash cans.
Most common sources
Medications intended for humans topped the 2013 list of reasons people called the Animal Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The telephone hotline handled 180,000 calls, and nearly 20 percent were for prescriptions, including 4,151 calls about pills intended to control blood pressure or heart rate and 2,836 cases involving pain killers.
Here's the rest of the ASPCA Top 10:
2. Insecticides, 15.7 percent of calls.
3. Over-the-counter drugs including acetaminophen and ibuprofen, 14.7 percent.
4. Household items including expandable glues and paints, 9.3 percent.
5. Food for humans, including onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and xylitol.
6. Meds prescribed by veterinarians. Some are available in chewable form with nice flavors, and pets have been known to break through pill bottles to eat the whole batch.
7. Chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity, 7.7 percent.
8. Rodenticides, 5.5 percent.
9. Plants, mostly houseplants eaten by cats, 5.4 percent.
10. Lawn and garden products, 2.8 percent.
None of the news releases I've received have figures for how many animals die of poisoning.
Now for the sticker shock: Petplan's news release said the company has paid out as much as $10,000 for a poison claim. Here's the insurance company's list of average reimbursement for veterinary bills: $929 for anti-freeze, $750 for illegal drugs including marijuana, $700 for prescription drugs, $545 for unknown causes, $501 for poisonous plants and $465 for food or additives.
Symptoms of poisoning
Here are the symptoms that indicate you need to get to a veterinarian quickly: vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite, tremors, seizures, excessive thirst and infrequent urination.
Human and pet meds can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure, especially in cats, according to veterinarian Jules Benson at Petplan. Internal bleeding, pancreatitis and kidney failure can all be caused by things that are toxic to pets.
The number for the ASPCA's 24-hour poison hotline is toll-free 1-888-426-4435. Have your credit card handy because the call will cost you $65.
There's no charge for calls to the national Poison Control Center hotline at toll-free 1-800-222-1222. They handle calls for people and for pets, but if they feel they can't help they refer callers to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Go to aspca.org/apcc to learn more.