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Marijuana is among the 2023 Top 10 pet toxins

News
Article

The Pet Poison Helpline compiled lists for dogs and cats as well as all species based on their call data

Marijuana dog

Photo: Valeriy Volkonskiy/Adobe Stock

A new annual list of the top toxins for pets includes marijuana for the second consecutive year. Created by the Pet Poison Helpline using case data, the 2023 Top Pet Poisons list also features rat poison, a pain medication, and some more commonly known animal toxins.1

Pet Poison Helpline is a toxicology resource that office guidance for all species. Incident cases for dogs account for 88% of the hotline’s calls, and 11% of calls are feline-related. The remaining cases involve other species, including birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic animals.1

The 2023 case data shows chocolate as the No. 1 toxin for all species in 2023. The sweet treat for humans also topped the Top 10 toxins list for dogs and was the second-most common poison for cats. “Even though it is widely known that pets shouldn’t consume chocolate-containing products, they constantly find a way,” said Renee Schmid, DVM, DABT, DABVT, a senior veterinary toxicologist for the helpline, in an organizational release.1

Signs of chocolate poisoning in pets include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, restlessness, increased thirst, hyperthermia, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, elevated heart rate, and hypertension.1

Top 10 Pet Poisons 2023

Image courtesy of Pet Poison Helpline

Marijuana and carprofen first appeared on the annual year-end list in 2022, and both were again among the Top 10 Pet Poisons for all species this year. In the 2023 case data, marijuana-related incidences accounted for the sixth-highest toxin overall for pets and was also No. 6 for dogs.1

“As more states legalize medical and recreational cannabis, the more marijuana-related calls we are receiving. Interestingly, dogs seem to be much more attracted to marijuana, as cannabis didn’t make the feline Top 10 list,” said Schmid in the release.1

Clinical signs in pets poisoned by marijuana can often be seen within minutes to hours, depending on whether the animal was exposed through inhalation or ingestion. Signs of poisoning include a dazed expression, glassy eyes, incoordination, slow response times, dribbling urine, vomiting, drooling, changes in heart rate, vocalization, neurological stimulation, hyperactivity, or coma.2

Carprofen is an FDA-approved prescription pain-relief product indicated only for dogs. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, commonly used to manage osteoarthritis and inflammation, that is safer when administered at therapeutic dosing levels.1

Toxic amounts of carprofen can lead to severe gastric ulceration and acute kidney failure in dogs and cats. Common signs of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, bloody vomitus, black-tarry stool, inappetence, lethargy, an increase in urination or thirst, malaise, and abdominal pain. Liver damage and seizures may also occur and death is associated with extremely high levels of exposure.3

Overall, the Top 10 pet poisons are as follows:

  1. Chocolate
  2. Grapes/raisins
  3. Ibuprofen
  4. Xylitol
  5. Bromethalin (rat poison)
  6. Marijuana
  7. Onions/chives/leeks/shallots
  8. Anticoagulant rat poison
  9. Vitamin D3 (supplement form)
  10. Carprofen

“When we broke down the overall Top 10 Pet Poisons list by cats and dogs, we found some toxins that are specific to each,” she added.1 The 2023 most common toxins for each species is as follows:

Top 10 pet poisons for dogs1:

  1. Chocolate
  2. Grapes/Raisons
  3. Xylitol
  4. Ibuprofen
  5. Bromethalin (Rat Poison)
  6. Marijuana
  7. Anticoagulant Rat Poison
  8. Onions/Chives/Leeks/Shallots (Allium species)
  9. Vitamin D3 (supplement)
  10. Carprofen (pain medication)

Top 10 pet poisons list for cats1:

  1. Lilies
  2. Chocolate
  3. Onions/Chives/Leeks/Shallots (Allium species)
  4. Garlic
  5. Ibuprofen
  6. Vitamin D3 (supplement)
  7. Alstroemeria, Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria species)
  8. Amphetamine combos (ADHD medication)
  9. Tulips (Tulipa species)
  10. Daylily (Hemerocallis species)

“Cats are incredibly attracted to plants and flowers, particularly lilies,” Schmid said in the release.1 “Three different varieties of lilies appear in our feline Top 10 list, which also includes tulips.”

It is critical for clients with cats to know which lilies are toxic to these felines. Common toxins include Oriental hybrid lilies, roselily, Star Gazer and Casa Blanca lilies, which are often found in cut-flower bouquets. Potted Easter lilies, garden plants such as Asiatic and tiger lilies, and daylilies—which is not a true lily—may also cause kidney failure in cats.1

Exposure to any part of the plant, including leaves, flowers, pollen, or even the water from the vase may result in acute kidney failure in cats, according to Pet Poison Helpline. These ingestions are medical emergencies and require immediate veterinary care such as early decontamination, aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, renal function tests, and supportive care to greatly improve the cat’s prognosis. Although dogs may experience minor gastrointestinal upset after ingestion of these lilies, they do not appear to develop kidney damage.1

“[Pet Poison Helpline] offers a free poison list on our website that helps pet lovers identify potential toxins and provides common symptoms. If you are concerned about something your pet has come in contact with, or has ingested, contact your veterinarian or call us,” said Schmid in the release.1

“If you do need to take your pet to the emergency hospital, we can develop treatment options on your way in. In many poisoning cases, time is critical, and most veterinarians value the additional toxicology expertise,” she added.1

References

  1. Forget cool cats—dogs are the real potheads. News release. Pet Poison Helpline. December 13, 2023. Accessed December 13, 2023. https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/media-releases/forget-cool-cats-dogs-are-the-real-potheads/
  2. Marijuana. Pet Poison Helpline. Accessed December 13, 2023. https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/marijuana/
  3. Carprofen. Pet Poison Helpline. Accessed December 13, 2023. https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/carprofen/
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Renee Schmid, DVM
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