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.

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That is like half of a whole phone bill! Can't you just google all the "life saving" info? No matter how much you make per year no one wants to pay that much. I'm sure a local vet would gladly tell you for free over the phone. People that can't afford to throw money everywhere are completely capable of owning a pet. I love my pets ALOT and I can't afford a $65 phone call!


This is crazy. It is also stupid for people to dictate who does/doesn't deserve an animal. Guess what, if I needed to call animal poison control today, I couldn't. Just because I can't afford that, doesn't mean I don't deserve/can't afford to take my animals to the vet. My animals are always up to date on their shots, heartworm meds, flea meds, etc...I agree that it takes A LOT of gull for a vet tech to get on a high horse about how much it costs to go to the vet. Blah Blah Blah, that would be like someone who works at a hotel complaining that the employee rate is unfair. I am sure that you get some perks for working at a vet, I sure did when I worked at a dermatologist's office. I hope that the vet techs at my vet have a little more compassion then you do. A vet tech should UNDERSTAND what an animal means to someone and how difficult it can be to provide for the unexpected. I wish I knew where you worked so that I could complain about your attitude.

Laurette Hickman

As a $36/month guardian, I'm shocked to see the charge on this "help". That's 10 hrs. at min. wage after taxes. My town doesn't even have a vet after 6 or on weekends. Once again, looks like the wolf is in the henhouse. How sad.


If you have access to a computer, you can receive, free, any information you need. There are also several veterinarian sites that will answer your questions without any charge. You just need to ,google, your search.

Kris curry

FYi Costco now fills your pets prescriptions. Cheaper than the vet!

Kris curry

FYi Costco now fills your pets prescriptions. Cheaper than the vet!


disgusting! the poison hotline should be free-that is why i contribute to ASPCA! where does the contribution go to CEO salaries? And pls don't lecture people about pet responsibility-its just plain arrogant

Paul Mifsud

Leave your cats indoors. Mine love it and don't want to go outside. They live longer, too. I had two that lived to be 19 and currently have an 11 and 12 year old cat. I once had a cat that died because he ingested pesticide spray from outdoors. I won't let this happen again. My vet said the average life span for an outdoor cat is 3 years.


I used to work (28yrs) and was making a VERY nice salary of well into 6 figures when I became disabled. I had 3 surgeries and need 2 more. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a good amount of savings and it lasted several years. I do receive disability now but is is less than 1 /10 of what I was used to living on. I was able to maintain my home for 5 years and then I had to sell it. After that, I moved into a 750 sq ft addition at my daughters and the saddest part isn't my physical condition, the loss of my wonderful job, my great salary, or een my home but that I had to give up my beloved Jack and Sheltie. They were my best friends. They gave me so much joy. They were there for me when I came home from the hospital and gave me a reason to want to go on when I was feeling like I would never feel good again. But I could no longer manage to provide for them. I could not ask my daughter care for them and to give them medical care when my care is so costly and she assists with it. It has been over a year and I still cry when I think of my babies. I tried to place them in good homes and think I found them each a good match but I still worry at times. I hope they are being well cared for and loved. I miss them with all of my heart. I understand when someone has a pet that is truly a family member and things go happens. It is unfair for someone to say if you don't have $65 you shouldn't be a pet owner. I used to think nothing of giving the local animal shelter a $500 donation every quarter and now I do't have $500 a year to give to anyone!!!I tell myself that finding other homes for my babies was the best thing but I miss them so very much. Sometimes our pets are all that keeps us going...


Really, they charge $65 for a pet poison hotline? I think I'd take my chances with the FREE (human) poison line. 1-800-222-1222. They may be human specific, but a lot of the same stuff applies (emetic or not, ER or not) plus there's always Google or some other search engine.

$65 is what it costs to see an ER vet here.