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Human Meds Are Pets' Biggest Poisoning Danger
Date:8/13/2010

By Maryann Mott
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- When John D'Amato arrived home early from work one day, he found an empty bottle of ibuprofen on the living room floor -- and one very sick pet.

His Great Dane puppy, Otis, had knocked the pain-reliever container off the coffee table -- where D'Amato had left it the night before -- and devoured dozens of the pills.

"My heart dropped through the floor," he said of the discovery.

D'Amato rushed the 85-pound puppy to a veterinary clinic near his home in Manchester, N.H., where the staff immediately induced vomiting and began administering IV fluids. Had D'Amato arrived home much later, Otis might not have survived.

Ingestion of over-the-counter and prescription drugs formulated for humans are by far the most common cause of pet poisonings in this country, veterinarians say.

Since the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Ill., began keeping statistics in 2002, human medications have consistently topped its annual list of the most toxic substances pets ingest.

Of the 98,000 calls received so far this year, about one-third involve dogs and cats consuming human medications, says Camille DeClementi, a veterinary toxicologist with APCC.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Advil, Aleve and Motrin, are among the top offenders, the APCC finds. Other drugs commonly eaten by dogs and some felines include antidepressants (Prozac), acetaminophen (Tylenol), anti-anxiety drugs (Xanax), sleep aids (Ambien) and beta-blocker blood pressure medications (Tenormin or Toprol.)

"The most toxic things in our homes are the medications we take," she said. "Animals are inquisitive, and get into things they're not supposed to."

Pets knock vials off countertops and nightstands, or owners mistakenly think they're helping their pets by giving them human medication to alleviate some sort of ailment.

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