More than 90% of cats and dogs in the U.S. are fed commercial pet food, yet our government does not play a role in overseeing and ensuring its safe production. 2007’s pet food crisis and massive recall (caused by the adulteration of pet food with melamine) showed pet owners and policymakers that like the production of human food, the production of pet food must be regulated for safety.
That’s why we’d like to praise the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for proposing a rule that, for the first time, would create preventive measures to keep pet food safe from the introduction of disease-causing bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants during the production process. The proposed rule targets those who manufacture, process, pack and hold animal food. It creates good manufacturing practices and requires facilities to have a food safety plan and assess and minimize contamination risks.
Thousands of pet parents called our 24-hour poison control hotline last year. Read on to learn more about common household items that resulted in frequent calls to APCC, and find out why they’re so dangerous to our furry friends.
1. Prescription Human Medications
We handled 24,673 cases regarding human prescription medications—the top offender for the sixth year in a row—in 2013. The top three types of medications that animals were exposed to include: heart medications, antidepressants and pain medications. Many instances of exposure occurred when pet parents dropped their medication when preparing to take it, and before they knew it, Fido had gobbled the pill off the floor.
Insecticides are used in the yard, home and on our animals, and nearly 16% of all calls to our poison hotline in 2013 were related to insecticides. Always read the label before using any insecticide on your pet, in your home or in your yard.
3. Over-the-Counter Human Medications
Over-the-counter human products, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and herbal supplements, accounted for nearly 15% of calls to APCC in 2013. Many of these products are tasty to pets, and some can be life threatening if ingested.
4. Household Products
Our poison hotline fielded nearly 17,000 calls about general household products in 2013. Household toxins range from fire logs to cleaning products.
5. People Food
Human foods are often appealing to pets, especially dogs. In 2013, people foods clocked in as the fifth most common pet poison. Pets can get themselves into serious trouble by ingesting onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and the sugar substitute xylitol, among other common food items.
The ASPCA Cruelty Intervention Advocacy team, volunteers from New York Cares, and the NYPD Community Affairs Office set up shop in the 113th Precinct in Jamaica, Queens, this weekend to provide free dog houses, pet ID tags, dog food, behavioral support and educational materials to community members and their canine companions. These resources were in high demand: We distributed 35 large dog houses, as well as rain checks for 15 more houses as part of a pilot program called Operation Gimme Shelter for at-risk pets.
New York City has experienced unusually frigid temperatures and record-breaking snowfall this winter, resulting in numerous reports to the NYPD of pets left out in the cold. In some cases, pet owners lack the resources or financial means to purchase dog houses. As temperatures remain below freezing and snow continues to fall in NYC, we’re relieved that Saturday’s dog house recipients will stay warm and dry.
Do you know which pet poisons are lurking in your home? Each year, thousands of pets accidentally ingest dangerous but common household items. Onions, grapes, gardening mulch—the culprits are surprising! In honor of National Poison Awareness Month, we’re holding a live Twitter chat Wednesday, March 5 with Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Dr. Wismer will be on hand March 5 at 2:00 P.M. (EST) to answer all your questions about protecting pets from harmful substances.
We’ll also test your pet-poison knowledge with a few trivia questions. Three guests will receive ASPCA swag bags—and one grand-prize winner will receive an Emergency Ready Deluxe Pet First Aid Kit!
When a four-year-old poodle mix named Fluffy arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, doctors knew they were dealing with a very sick dog. Vomiting and straining to urinate, Fluffy was unhappy and visibly depressed. Surgeons decided to operate the following day—a decision that would prove more critical than they even realized.
Fluffy underwent a cystotomy, a procedure during which an incision is made into the urinary bladder to remove bladder stones. But what surgeons found was no ordinary stone: 2 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, the stone was “like a jumbo chicken egg,” said Dr. J’mai Gayle, Director of Surgery.
As Fluffy’s surgery was underway, doctors also discovered that pressure from the stone had caused her ureter (the tube from the kidney to the bladder) to rupture. Infected urine had spilled into her belly and formed an abscess, which Dr. Maren Krafchik had to clear out before the dog’s kidney could be removed. No wonder the poor pooch was vomiting and feeling so ill! Despite the surgical trauma that Fluffy had been through, Dr. Janice Fenichel, who saw Fluffy on her arrival, said “she looked 100 percent better” as soon as she awoke.
While Fluffy is recovering nicely, we hope that her story serves as a reminder to all pet parents. “It is so important to get any medical problems checked out right away,” says Dr. Amy Fox, Fluffy’s operating surgeon. “The sooner we treat these problems, the better chance the animals have of making a full recovery.”
Early signs of bladder stones include straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and frequent need to urinate. A pet owner noticing any of these things should take their pet to the vet immediately.
Fluffy’s cystotomy and additional procedures were made possible in part by the ASPCA’s Trooper Fund, a program in place to cover medical costs for animals whose guardians need assistance with veterinary expenses.
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