The number of complaints about animal poisoning reported to the RSPCA has increased by nearly ten per cent in the space of a year.
The figures were revealed today as the charity warns owners about accidentally poisoning their pets by giving them harmful treats, such as chocolate, this Easter.
The RSPCA received 1,154 poisoning complaints last year from concerned members of the public. This was up from 1,055 in 2012.
It is a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to intentionally administer a poison to an animal. However, some people may be giving their pets harmful substances, simply because they don’t realise they could be dangerous.
The charity’s chief veterinary officer James Yeates said it was worrying to see a rise in complaints of poisoning, but he stressed that many accidental poisonings could be avoided if people are more aware of the dangers around their home.
He said: “Chocolate poisoning is one of the most commonly reported types of animal poisoning, so Easter is the ideal time to remind people of the hazards around their home that could accidentally poison their pets.
“Easter eggs are a tasty treat for many of us, but a hefty vet’s bill won’t be quite so easy to swallow if your pet ends up wolfing them down before you.
“It isn’t just chocolate that is dangerous for animals though. For example, did you know that rhubarb is poisonous to rabbits, or that grapes could kill your ferret?
“There are so many hidden dangers to animals around the home and we want owners to do their homework and keep their pets safe and healthy.”
Owners can find out more by visiting the RSPCA’s poisoning advice pages at www.rspca.org.uk/poisoning
The web pages give details of symptoms and common poisons for species including cats, dogs, equines, rabbits, small rodents and ferrets. It also provides vital advice about what to do if you suspect your animal has been poisoned.
“The main piece of advice to any pet owner is to take their animal straight to a vet if they are worried. Never watch and wait in any case of suspected poisoning. The effects can take hold extremely quickly, so knowing the symptoms and how to respond to them can be the difference between life and death,” said James.
Anybody who wants to report a suspected deliberate animal poisoning can call the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.