Most Common Pet Poison Claims

Pet Health Insurance Data Reveals Maladies

Dog makes a funny face

Pet owners often joke about their pets behaving like vacuum cleaners, literally eating anything in their line of vision.

Unfortunately, that lack of dietary discretion too often results in pets ingesting poisonous substances, emergency visits to the veterinarian, and large medical bills.

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, has analyzed its database of more than 485,000 insured pets to find the sources behind the hundreds of poisoning claims submitted to VPI every month.

VPI policyholders spent more than $8.2 million between 2005 and 2011 treating their pets for poisoning. Following is a ranking of the nearly 20,000 pet poisoning claims VPI received:

Type of PoisonAverage Vet Expense
Accidental Ingestion of Medications (pet or human drugs)
Rodenticide (mouse & rat poison)
Methylxanthine Toxicity (chocolate, caffeine)
Plant Poisoning
Household Chemicals
Metaldehyde (snail, slug poison)
Heavy Metal Toxicity (lead, zinc)
Toad Poisoning
Antifreeze Poisoning
Walnut Poisoning
Alcohol Toxicity

Accidental ingestion of pet or human medications, the most common type of poisoning, cost policyholders an average of $791 per claim. The most expensive type of poisoning, heavy metal poisoning, cost an average of $952 per claim.

“Not only can a poisoning incident be life-threatening for the pet, it’s traumatic for the pet owner as well,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI.

“Depending on what substance the pet has ingested and the amount, the reaction can be sudden with the animal exhibiting alarming symptoms such as staggering, vomiting, drooling, seizures, and even loss of consciousness. We recommend that pet owners be aware of which items around their homes can be harmful to their pets – medications, insect poisons, chocolate, and certain nuts – and keep these items safely out of reach. Also, they shouldn’t assume that their pets will ignore that bottle of bleach in the laundry room or the Philodendron plant by the window. Our data shows this just isn’t so.”

In addition to taking steps to avoid poisoning emergencies, pet owners should be prepared for such an emergency should it arise. For example, owners should keep the phone number of their pets’ regular veterinarian and a phone number for an emergency veterinary hospital handy at all times. For more information about pet poisoning prevention and poisoning first-aid, please visit the Pet Poison Helpline.*

*A fee is billed by Pet Poison Helpline. PPH is not affiliated with VPI Pet Insurance.

If you'd like to read more about dangers to pets, visit our pet toxins and poisons library.

Return to the VPI Pet HealthZone

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