What’s Poisoning Our Pets: The Top Pet Toxins of 2012

Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 12:45pm
White and grey puppy

In 2012, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Illinois, handled more than 180,000 cases about pets possibly exposed to poisonous substances—and some breeds seemed to make up a lot more of those calls than others.

Nearly 14,000 of APCC’s 2012 calls were from worried pet parents of Labradors. Domestic shorthair cats were involved in approximately 10,000 cases (the second-most popular breed involved in APCC calls). Mixed-breed dogs (8,000 cases), Chihuahuas (4,833 cases), Golden Retrievers (4,819 cases) and Yorkshire Terriers (3,800 cases) rounded out the top six.

No matter what kind of pets they had, thousands of pet parents called us about the same products last year. Here were the top five poisons that caused pet parents to call APCC for help in 2012:

1. Prescription Human Medications

APCC handled 25,000 cases regarding human prescription medications in 2012. The top three types of medications that animals were exposed to were: heart medications (blood pressure pills), antidepressants and pain medications (opioids and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

2. Insecticides

While just 11% of all calls to the APCC are about insecticides, more than 50% of the calls to APCC involving cats pertain to felines exposed to insecticides.

3. Over-the-Counter Human Medications

This group contains acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen as well as herbal and nutraceutical products (fish oil, joint supplements).

4. Veterinary Products and Medications

Veterinary products made up nearly 6% of APCC’s case volume for 2012. Both OTC and prescription veterinary products are included in this group. Watch out for flavored tablets!

5. Household Products

APCC fielded more than 10,000 calls about household products in 2012. Household toxins can range from fire logs to cleaning products.

For numbers six through 10, check out the full list of the top poisons of 2012.

And remember: If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

Add new comment



Carol Bowen

I brought in five kittens and 1 adult cat because they were in danger of being killed by dogs or had medical issues. I already had 3 adult cats that I had rescued and 1 needed surgery. I had all 3 spayed/neutered,shots on my credit card. The bill is too high now I cannot add any more The kittens are 1 yr old and need spaying. I can not seem to find a shelter to take them and adopt them out. I am keeping the 1 male separate. So No I cannot afford a $65 phone call but if it came right down to it I'd use the credit card again at the vet. I am elderly and disabled so money is scarce.


People need to think before they make comments, you have no idea what has happened in peoples lives! when they got that pet everything could've been hunky-dory,making good money, Nice place to live, able to going take the dog out for a run every day, able to take it to go play ball. But in one split-second somebody's life can change, it can take away their ability to work to make all that money,to pay a mortgage, and to take away their ability to walk, Which in turn takes away the ability to spend the wonderful time with your four-legged friend doing the things that they love and deserve to do. The pet has now been in your family for a long time and has become your child something important to you something you love and you cherish. Would you give up your child because things are tough? I don't think so. There are a lot of people that had a drop of a dime cannot come up with $65,there are a lot of people that do not have a credit card for that $65. what gets me is the people on The other side that claim to love and care for pets so much would probably let them die for $65. in general people have just stopped caring, really caring about anyone or thing that cannot benefit them.


VERY well said, Ann. I was making six-figure salary as a Legal Assistant. In 2005, I was diagnosed with end stage renal failure. I was a single parent of 2 girls, living in a beautiful home in Irvine, California, owned a BMW, was a soccer and banner mom for both girls, was an active parent to my girls who are 4 years a part, ran 2 marathons a year, AND took loving care of our then 4 year old Pug, Lucky, whom we adopted. Four years prior to that, I paid over $5,000 to have one of his kidney's removed and the vet said it was the size of a grapefruit and once it was removed, he said the rest of his organs "relaxed" because the infected kidney was so huge [the normal size of a Pug's kidney is that of a thumb.] The vet said he probably would live no more than 2 years. He lived 5 more years, administering sub-q treatments every day, when, still painfully to this day, we had to lay our precious Lucky down because his other kidney gave out, just 2 months after I was diagnosed with kidney failure and put on dialysis. We miss Lucky dearly and had him cremated where he is near my bed as he always slept with me. We have 2 more Pugs, Tucker and Bella, who both sleep with me, as well. I sold my home and car, and borrowed from my retirement fund for Lucky. I will do anything to save an animal. So, you see people, you never know what the future holds for you, only God. "We had it all," as they say, and now I'm on permanent disability barely making $29,000 a year, and live paycheck to paycheck, which we get once a month, and which also means I never had any real true friends because if you have no money, there goes your so-called friends. Would I do it over again ?? YOU BETCHA !! Don't judge people unless you've lived in their shoes. Animals are regarded by the state as property which sickens me. Oh, and 6 months after receiving my transplant [7 years after being on dialysis] me and our 2 Pugs were brutally attacked by a Pit Bull while on our walk. "Luckily," we all survived. Tucker and Bella both needed emergency surgery and I needed stitches and on pain meds for when the dog threw me backwards and onto the cement. You bet I'm going to sue the owner. "Luckily," it did not affect the transplant, but I am traumatized, as well as having back pain for the rest of my life.

The owner didn't want to pay $80 to get his dog out of the pound, so he had them lay him down for $20. Come judgment day, he will have to answer to God. And, in the meantime, since I was injured and the state recognizes animals as property, I will sue him in Superior Court and will donate every penny I win to ASPC. God Bless All Animal Lovers !!

Hal Newell

Beware! Antifreeze is very dangerous for pets. It tastes sweet and is appealing. It will shut down kidneys in no time flat!

Keep your "Stuff" up and away from curious mouths.

L. Worthington

The bottom line is if we own a pet we are responsible for his/her welfare. I juggle the budget constantly to care for a poodle who joined us when we had more money. Vet care is expensive but, as someone said, most reputable vets will work with you regarding payments, etc. Why fight over this... Have as good vet, research the best food you can afford for your pet and give back them the love that they give you so freely.

Lynn DeBolt

You know ... This is a forum for people who are supposed to care about animals - not a shooting gallery for sniping other people. I am a bit disappointed to see so much of that here. We have what I affectionately refer to as a 'menagerie' ... a couple of outdoor cats (both rescues), couple of horses, couple of ducks and my beloved dogs (11 at this time). My hubby retired last fall, so our income was drastically cut, even with the good pension plan he had from work. Our dogs range in size from 4.5 pounds all the way up to 65 pounds, some are purebred, about half are rescues from our local shelter. One of them has seizures, and her vet bills are pricey, between regular office calls (and bloodwork) and her monthly meds to keep her seizure free. I will be the first to agree that $65 is pricey for a call ... but I would gladly pay it if one of my dogs was showing signs of poisoning. One of the most deadly things one of my dogs EVER got into was the type of snail/slug stuff you can squirt out of the bottle in a line (think it was called Deadline, but don't remember for sure). It rained shortly after application, and the water ran off on the patio. My lab cross licked it up - WHY they make it taste good to animals is beyond me - and within a short time, she was in a great deal of distress. We almost lost her, and the vet bill was staggering. If we'd not had a good relationship with our vet, we'd have struggled a lot to pay that bill. My best recommendation to ANY pet owner? Find a good vet and see them regularly - your pets need an annual checkup just like we two leggeds do. I am very fortunate, the vet clinic we are with now has, in the last year, changed their hours to have someone available at the clinic 24 hours a day, every day (including holidays!). Most vets welcome calls from their pet parents when the pet is in distress, even if they cannot help over the phone, many times they can offer advice to stabilize the pet until you can get it to them for treatment. And many vets now offer a discount to seniors ... I'd bet money that many seniors take better care of their animal companions than those who don't have to worry about money in their pocket; in many cases, that pet is their best friend ... let's all be more charitable to one another - at least here!

Tina Bell

It has been a while if ever I have called the poison control. I have a LAB no#1 for being curious. If we had to pay that kind of money for the same information you can get on the internet for free or take the money and go to the vet that is what my choices would be. I would not consider spending that much money unless it was the only option I had.That sounds like it was put into place because to many people were calling in taking advantage of a free service which I'm sure now that is what it was when i called one time for a spider bite. My Lab ate some mushrooms or a frog outside and was salavating very bad one night, I called my vet and she said if he gets any worse you should bring him in. Do any of you guys have vets you can call if not google it and see what you come up with,I bet it is the same information you get for $65.

heide jenkins

my dog was poisoned by the vet prescribed Deramaxx, after which i learned that there was a class action suit against the manufacturer. this medication is highly toxic and should only be administered under certain conditions. BEWARE! heartbreaking to lose a pet at the vet's (careless) hands.

Linda Smith

In Canada we have the Farley Foundation, named after the dog in the "For Better or For Worse" comic strip. It helps seniors pay vet expenses so that they can keep their furry friends.


I am a RVT & work in a very busy ER. We refer clients to the ASPCA poison control line often. They have a wonderful group of people, some are veterinarians, who have a large database on just about everything. I just wanted to offer some options on the $65 fee discussion. If your pet is having a reaction to a product, some companies will reimburse you for the fee along with some of the medical expenses if you need to go to the ER. I believe the ASPCA may have a list of some of the companies so you should ask when talking to them. If the ASPCA directs you to go to an ER with your pet, they will give you a reference # to give then we will call them & work together to take care of your pet. Some ERs will charge a discounted fee if you were told to come in by the ASPCA. It doesn't hurt to ask when you're being checked into the ER if there will be a discount. I hope this helps!