5 Pet Poisons Hiding in Your Purse

January 25, 2014 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

The Pet Poison Helpline often gets calls from frantic pet owners because their dog or cat has ingested an item they pulled from a purse or other bag. Here are the five most common items your curious pet may find in an open handbag or backpack that could poison them if consumed.

1. Human medication- This is the number one source of pet poisoning for the past five years. The Pet Poison Helpline reports that about half of their yearly calls are because someone’s pet has ingested human medicine. Both over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be toxic to pets. Just one pill containing acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) can be fatal to cats. Larger amounts can cause liver failure in dogs. As far as prescription medication, antidepressants are the number one reason for calls to the helpline. Sedation, loss of coordination, agitation, trembling and seizures are common signs that your pet has consumed one of these types of pills.

2. Asthma inhalers- Dogs especially like to bite or gnaw on inhalers but, if punctured, this can result in life-threatening poisoning. Over ingestion of the drugs from an inhaler, like albuterol, can bring on vomiting, agitation, heart arrhythmia, and even death.

3. Artificially-sweetened gum and mints- Xylitol, a sugar substitute found in sugar free gums and mints, can be toxic to dogs. In gum sweetened with Xylitol, as few as two sticks can be deadly to a dog. In humans, Xylitol is proven safe, but in dogs, Xylitol tricks the body into producing insulin like it would for real sugar. Blood sugar levels drop rapidly. Liver failure and/or seizures can result. This substance is also commonly found in chewable vitamins, dental hygiene products, and baked goods.

4. Cigarettes, tobacco, and other products containing nicotine- These products, including stop-smoking items, are toxic to both dogs and cats. Signs of nicotine poisoning include elevated heart and respiratory rates, loss of bladder or bowel control, tremors, seizures, paralysis and death.

5. Hand sanitizer- These days, it is common for people to carry small bottles of hand sanitizer. However, alcohol is the germ-killing agent in this product and could be fatal to your pet. If your pet consumes hand sanitizer, this could cause a severe drop in their blood sugar, loss of coordination, loss of body temperature, coma, and death.

To prevent your pet from being tempted to dig in your purse or similar items, set up a designated place for these bags that are out of reach from your dog or cat. Be sure to keep them zipped or snapped closed.

If you believe your pet has ingested one of these items, contact us or call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888-426-4436) or the National Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680).

Print Friendly