Veterinary Pet Insurance reported more than 20,000 claims after pets accidentally ingested toxic substances between 2005 and 2009, incidents that cost policyholders $6.6 million in medical bills and took an emotional toll on pet owners, the company says. More than 5,100 cases stemmed from pets swallowing prescription medications, and an additional 4,028 were chalked up to mouse and rat poison. "Pet owners should be aware of which items can be harmful to their pets and keep them out of reach. Don't assume pets will ignore the bleach in the laundry room or the Philodendron plant by the window," said Dr. Carol McConnell, VPI's chief veterinary officer.

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