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Khyber is our cute patient this week helping us to educate pet owners on the risks of over-the counter medications.

While his owners were out, Khyber got into some mischief and ingested an entire bottle of an over-the-counter vitamin supplement containing Calcium and Vitamin D Gummies (150ct).

If enough is ingested, vitamin D is extremely dangerous; when a toxic dose is ingested, this can cause kidney failure and death. Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) is used in rodent poisons, and this is the most common route of exposure to pets. Other sources of vitamin D toxicity in pets include OTC vitamin supplements and certain psoriasis creams (containing a highly potent vitamin D analog).

Every year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center publishes a list of the Top 10 Toxins and Poisons. Last year, OTC medications (especially ibuprofen/advil, naproxen/aleve, cold medications and herbal supplements) topped the list. Next on the list: human prescription medications (especially ADHD medications, antidepressants and heart medications), toxic foods (xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic and chocolate), and veterinary medications.

In the emergency room we have seen some terrible poisonings, and so we take toxins and poisons very seriously. We like to bring the toxicologists into the picture as early as possible, and we work together with the toxicology team every step of the way to ensure we are following the most up-to-date information, protocols and treatment recommendations (sometimes 1-2 years ahead of the published literature).

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is an amazing resource for animal poison-related emergencies. It has the world’s largest database of pet poisons and toxins and is staffed by veterinary toxicology specialists 24 hours/day, 365 days/year. The pet poison control hotline (1-888-426-4435) is a phone number that every pet owner should have on speed dial.

A Safety Tip from the Poison Pros: “Make sure to keep all medications out of paws’ reach and check with a veterinarian before giving any new medication (prescription or not) to your pet.”

Even better-keep out of reach of pets AND CHILDREN. Remember, pets are a lot like little kids, and unfortunately, medication and supplement overdoses happen more and more children (particularly under the age of 6) every year, and this can also be fatal.