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Protect pets from common household toxins

Q: My friend’s cat died after she licked a small amount of Children’s Tylenol liquid that had spilled from the bottle after the lid was left loose. I was shocked. Are there other medications that are toxic to cats?

A: Yes, and more than you’d think, because cats have an unusual metabolism. Tragically, accidental poisoning of pets is all too common.

In 2017, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reported that 35 percent of pet poisonings resulted from accidental exposure to human prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Each category accounted for half the reports.

To protect pets and children, tighten lids and store all medications in their original childproof containers in a closed cabinet where inquisitive fur kids and youngsters can’t find them.

After medications, the next most common cause of pet poisonings was human food with 19.7 percent of toxicities involving chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, alcohol, raw yeast dough, the artificial sweetener xylitol and other human foods pets shouldn’t eat.

A surprisingly high 8.9 percent of poisonings were due to veterinary drug overdoses. Since many are flavored, it’s important to keep them secured where pets can’t reach them.

Rounding out the list of pet toxins were household items, like paint, glue, laundry detergent pods and cleaning products (8.6 percent of poisonings); insecticides, such as bug sprays and ant baits (6.7 percent); rodenticides (6.3 percent); plants such as lilies (5.4 percent); and garden products, like fertilizer and compost (2.6 percent).

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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