We are continually bombarded with news of harmful toxins. The most publicized, recent reports concerned the frightening water situation in Flint, Michigan. We are not sure how the toxic water affected the four-legged members of that city, but veterinarians and toxicology experts at Pet Poison Hotline urge everyone to remember that children and pets are among the most vulnerable to poisoning. The Pet Poison Helpline stresses the importance of educating ourselves on how to pet-proof appropriately and avoid the inevitable heartache that so often results when a pet is accidentally poisoned.,and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center just released the list of the top pet toxins for the past year:

  1. For the first time ever, over the counter medications and supplements surpassed prescription medications to take the top spot in toxins most commonly ingested by pets. These medications, including herbal and other natural supplements, attracted the most concern , with more than 28,000 cases reported. This category is amazingly large, encompassing almost 7,000 different products.
  2. Prescribed human medications fell to the second spot on the list, representing more than 15 percent of all cases. The types of medication to which animals were most often exposed correlate with the most popular medicines prescribed to humans, and often carried in purses, pockets, or back packs.
  3. Insect poisons accounted to more than 15,000 cases. If label directions are not followed carefully, these products can be very dangerous to pets.
  4. Pets, especially dogs, who will eat about anything, can get into serious trouble by ingesting onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, alcohol, and xylitol, a popular sweetener that is now being used in many products, including some peanut butters. Almost 15,000 cases in 2015 involved human foods.
  5. Household products found around most homes made up more than 14,000 cases. Most common items in this category include cleaning products, fire logs, and paint.
  6. Overdoses of veterinary prescribed medications represented more than 7 percent of total cases, emphasizing the importance of exercising extra caution even with vet meds.
  7. Chocolate continues to be very problematic for pets. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous since it contains high amounts of theobromine, a relative of caffeine that can be deadly, but all chocolate is toxic to dogs.
  8. Indoor and outdoor plants ranked eighth on the list, and although most of the calls involved cats and houseplants, curious dogs can also get into trouble by ingesting plants.
  9. Rodent poisons can be just as toxic to pets as they are to mice and rats. Depending on the type ingested, poisoning can result in moderate to severe symptoms—anywhere from uncontrolled bleeding, swelling of the brain, kidney failure and seizures. Most of the mouse poisons, unfortunately, have no antidote, so be sure that these products are placed totally out of reach of your pets.
  10. Lawn and garden products, including herbicides and fungicides round out the top ten. It is incredibly important to store all garden and lawn products away from pets (and children )

The best thing a pet caregiver can do is become aware of common toxins and pet-proof your home accordingly. For a complete lists of toxins, go to ASPCA.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control, and If you suspect that your dog may have ingested something questionable, immediately consult your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline, a 24 hour animal poison control service, at 1-800-213-6680. (There is a charge for this service, but it might be a small price to pay for saving your dog’s life.)

Easter is one of the most celebrated days in the Western World, and, although it is celebrated by different groups in different ways, basically Easter is a Christian holiday. It is considered one of the oldest and holiest times commemorating the resurrection of Christ. Many secular aspects have also become associated with the day, with millions of chocolate bunnies and eggs made each year, and many Help Calls are necessary because Easter candies have been ingested by our four-legged friends. Exercise caution when hiding candies, and keep the Easter baskets up and away from inquisitive pets.

May the glory and promise of Easter bring you joy and happiness as you focus on the true meaning of the Easter season!