Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pointers On Protecting Your Pets From Poisoning

(NAPSI)-By being alert to the danger, you may be able to keep your precious pets from poisoning themselves.

The Problem

Pet owners often joke about pets being like vacuum cleaners--literally eating anything put in front of them. Unfortunately, that lack of dietary discretion too often results in pets ingesting toxic substances, emergency visits to the veterinarian and large medical bills.

The Top Troublemakers

The nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance has analyzed its database of nearly half a million pets to find the sources behind the thousands of poisoning claims it receives each year. Here is a ranking of the 13 most-common pet poisoning claims Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) sees:

1. Accidental ingestion of medications (pet or human drugs)

2. Rodenticide (mouse and rat poison)

3. Methylxanthine toxicity (chocolate and caffeine)

4. Plant poisoning

5. Household chemical

6. Metaldehyde (snail and slug poison)

7. Insecticide

8. Heavy metal toxicity (lead and zinc)

9. Toad poisoning

10. Antifreeze poisoning

11. Walnut poisoning

12. Alcohol toxicity

13. Strychnine.

Accidental ingestion of pet or human medications is the most common type of poisoning. The most expensive type of poisoning, heavy metal poisoning, can cost more than $1,000 to treat.

What To Look For

It helps if pet owners are alert to signs of trouble. "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," said veterinarian Carol McConnell. "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."

An Example

Consider the case of Patricia Reinhold of North Las Vegas, Nev. She spent nearly $500 at her veterinarian's office after her Pomeranian Baxter managed to sip up a spilled beer. She knew something was wrong when Baxter began to stumble and fall over.

"Most people might not worry about this, or think it was funny, but I wasn't about to take a chance with Baxter," said Reinhold. "We took him to the vet, who put him on an IV and flushed his kidneys to get the alcohol out of his system. He recovered, but a couple weeks later we had to take him in for a precautionary liver test to make sure that he had all his enzymes and liver function."

Reinhold's quick thinking highlights the importance of preparation in the event of a pet emergency. Pet owners should keep the phone number of their pets' regular veterinarian and a number for an emergency veterinary hospital handy at all times and have a financial plan for handling unexpected pet expenses.

"I'm the kind of person who wouldn't hesitate to spend $10,000 on my pets," said Reinhold. "So for me, having pet insurance isn't about never having to pay for my pets' veterinary bills or saving money but getting help with the things I know I will have to pay for, and I like knowing that help is there. Because you can guarantee that with a dog like Baxter, I haven't seen the end of it."

Learn More

For more information about pet poisoning prevention and poisoning first aid, visit the Pet Poison Helpline at For more information about pet health insurance, visit

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