Pet Poison Helpline, pandemic infographic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, many activities came to a halt while others became anew as people spent more time indoors. For example, some people used the downtime to learn or enhance a skill, like baking, artwork or home improvement. However, these activities came with a corresponding increase in the number of pandemic-related pet poisonings, Pet Poison Helpline officials said in a statement.

“Baker’s yeast and bread dough are in our top three types of cases that increased more than 200 percent during the pandemic,” said Dr. Ahna Brutlag, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center based in Minneapolis. “While that sourdough bread smells and tastes great, the yeast in the starter and raw dough can be toxic to your pet. When bread dough is rising, yeast ferments sugars in the dough into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide forms bubbles in the dough making it rise. When ingested, the warm environment of the stomach acts like a proofing oven, allowing the dough to continue to rise and produce alcohol. This can lead to both stomach bloat and alcohol poisoning in cats or dogs, both of which can be life threatening.”

Specifically, officials saw an increase of 222 percent in yeast poisonings. Brewed coffee hit a 207 percent increase, bread dough a 202 percent increase and art supplies came in at a 113 percent increase.

“"Bread wasn’t the only thing getting baked during the pandemic,” Dr. Brutlag added. “We also saw a 102 percent increase in the number of marijuana poisoning cases referred to our veterinary toxicology experts. There was also a significant increase in the pets exposed to cocktails and wine. We reviewed our files for pandemic-related cases about five months after the lockdown began and compared those numbers with these current statistics. We found that the poisonings seemed to be seasonal, with baking and home improvement cases lowering around the fall of 2020 and marijuana poisonings increasing.”

Here is Pet Poison Helpline’s full list of the Top 10 Pandemic Pet Poisoning increases between March 2020 and February 2021, compared to the same period a year earlier:

  1. Yeast: 222 percent increase
  2. Brewed Coffee: 207 percent increase
  3. Bread Dough: 202 percent increase
  4. Art Supplies: 113 percent increase
  5. Marijuana: 102 percent increase
  6. Paint: 96 percent increase
  7. Cleaning Products: 92 percent increase (hand sanitizer alone was up 413 percent)
  8. Cocktails: 92 percent increase
  9. Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3): 85 percent increase
  10. Wine: 77 percent increase

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