Recreational Drugs Makes ASPCA Annual List of Top Pet Toxins for the First TimeASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports an uptick in calls as more pets experience potential marijuana toxicity
NEW YORK – Today, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) announced its annual list of top toxins for pets ahead of National Poison Prevention Week (March 19 – 25). In 2022, the APCC team assisted more than 400,000 animals from across all 50 states resulting in a nearly 5 percent increase in case volume when compared to 2021. For the first time ever, recreational drugs including marijuana-based drugs, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and cocaine made the list, knocking out gardening products in the tenth spot. In 2022, the APCC team fielded nearly 11 percent more calls related to potential marijuana ingestion than in the previous year, and they have seen a nearly 300 percent increase in calls over the past five years. The cases most commonly seen at the APCC involve pets ingesting marijuana-laced baked goods which are more dangerous than ingesting plant material and can result in symptoms such as stomach upset, urinary incontinence, and ataxia.
For the first time in nearly ten years, human medications held only one of the top two spots. While human over the counter (OTC) medications continued to lead the list making up nearly 17% of the APCC’s total call volume last year, human prescription medications dropped to number three, and food products replaced them as number two. Pet owners are more aware of the dangers of human medication exposure in pets which can lead to signs from gastrointestinal upset to kidney failure in severe cases. Protein bars, products with xylitol, and grapes and raisins continue to be the most popular items in the food category.
“Over the last few years, the experts at the APCC have continued to see a gradual increase in call volume related to potential pet toxicity,” said Dr. Tina Wismer, Senior Director, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “The changes in the top toxins list from the past year reflect not only pet owners’ continued awareness of toxins lurking in their homes, but also the need to continue protecting our pets against dangers that can cause life-threatening issues.”
Since its inception 45 years ago, the APCC, a 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year hotline, has served as a critical and trusted resource for pet owners and veterinarians nationwide in keeping animals safe and healthy. Each year APCC board-certified veterinary toxicologists examine data from the previous year to identify trends and raise awareness around the top toxins pets are exposed to.
The APCC experts urge pet owners to remain vigilant and aware of potential pet toxins lurking in their homes, especially the items on the top toxin list, which made up more than 96 percent of total cases in 2022 and can all cause life-threatening issues if not treated. To view the full list of the top ten toxins, please download this infographic.
Last year, the APCC marked a significant milestone of handling more than four million cases of potential pet toxicity. In addition to responding to calls from veterinarians, shelters and pet parents, APCC staff provide toxicology and veterinary consulting services on a wide array of subjects, and APCC veterinarians conduct retrospective data research to better understand toxicity risks and impact in pets, including making a groundbreaking discovery in 2021 that the toxic component in grapes is tartaric acid, which had been unknown to the veterinary community for more than 20 years.
For more information about the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, please visit www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435 or contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible.