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Every month VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance and the nation's largest pet insurer) receives hundreds of poisoning claims for pets who have been poisoned. They analyzed the claims made for poisoning between 2005 and 2009 and came up with the following list of the most common poisoning claims:
1. 5,131 cases of Accidental Ingestion of Medications (pet or human drugs)
2. 4,028 cases of Mouse & rat poison
3. 3,661 cases of methylxanthine toxicity (consumption of chocolate and caffeine)
4. 2,808 cases of plant poisoning
5. 1,669 cases of household chemical poisoning
6. 396 cases of Metaldehyde (snail & slug poison)
7. 323 cases of insecticide poisoning
8. 288 cases of heavy metal toxicity (lead, zinc)
9. 270 cases of toad poisoning
10. 213 cases of antifreeze poisoning
11. 100 cases of walnut poisoning
12. 75 cases of alcohol toxicity
13. 28 cases of strychnine poisoning
VPI policyholders spent more than $6.6 million between 2005 and 2009 treating their pets for poisoning. Accidental ingestion of pet or human medications, the most common type of poisoning, cost policyholders an average of $791 per claim. The most expensive type of poisoning, heavy metal poisoning, cost 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 Dr. Carol McConnell, 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."
In addition to taking steps to avoid poisoning emergencies, pet owners should be prepared for such an emergency 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. For more information about pet poisoning prevention and poisoning first-aid, please visit the Pet Poison Helpline at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.