Pet insurance company The Insurance Emporium has revealed the top ten toxins triggering the most insurance claims for poisoning in dogs during 2017 and 2018. The deadly Xylitol came in at eighth (4 per cent), with claims increasing by a staggering 950 per cent during this time.

The top ten causes of dog poisoning included rat poison (9 per cent), slug pellets (1 per cent) and human medication (19 per cent), as well as chocolate (19 per cent) and grapes/raisins (20 per cent). Many of these are well known to be toxic to dogs; however, Xylitol is a substance that has been sneaking its way into seemingly harmless human foods – including sweets, cake, biscuits and some brands of peanut butter – and making it potentially lethal to dogs.

Chewing gum containing Xylitol was involved in 91 per cent of the Xylitol dog poisoning cases. The natural sugar substitute is also being used in vitamin tablets. It is highly toxic and can prove fatal to dogs, but thankfully in the particular cases in the study, all of the dogs survived. 

The story of Hungarian Vizsla RUby, a family pet that died after eating two brownies containing Xylitol, highlights the lethal effects of this toxic sugar substitute and is a reminder to owners that ingredients should be checked and dogs should be taken straight to the vet if there is any suspect of Xylitol poisoning. If you have any doubts over whether something they just ate is safe or not, you can also ring the Animal PoisonLine.

Young dogs aged three and under were at greatest risk, with the average dog poisoning claim age being two years and four months. From stealing tiffin cake to mince pies, from raiding the Easter eggs to munching packets of paracetamol left lying around the house, the consequences of eating items they shouldn’t were serious and even fatal for some dogs. Other human foods also caused harm, including everyday items such as garlic bread, onions, caffeine, mushrooms and kitchen waste. Outdoors proved risky for some dogs too, with cases of dogs drinking screen wash, eating plant fertiliser, raiding the garden compost and licking weedkiller off their paws. 

The most unusual case involved a dog eating a hearing aid. Others were poorly after eating socks, carpet, a piece of a tin can, sand, and gravel. The highest claim of all poisoning types was an adder bite at £5,138 – although in that case, it wasn’t the dog to sink his teeth into something dangerous!

Insurance Emporium’s Chief Executive Officer, Francis Martin, said, “As a dog owner myself, I know how inquisitive dogs can be. Whether at home, in the garden or out in the great outdoors, dog toxins present a serious and sometimes lethal hazard. Even a seemingly innocuous act such as leaving a pack of chewing gum or mints containing Xylitol on the table could potentially have lethal results for dogs. And with Xylitol increasingly appearing in foods, it is crucial to look out for this in the ingredients list.

“Even when dog owners take the greatest care, putting dog toxins out of reach and keeping their pet out of harm’s way, accidents unfortunately can and do still happen. Our range of flexible pet insurance products are designed to offer peace of mind in the unfortunate event that the worst does happen, leaving the owners free to enjoy time with their dog.”

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