ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center shares Top Toxins of 2017

Human prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and food hold top three spots on annual list
March 19, 2018

NEW YORKThe ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) today released the Top Toxins of 2017 list, coinciding with National Animal Poison Prevention Week, which runs from March 18 through March 24. The annually updated data is a critical resource for pet owners, veterinarians, and shelters nationwide, helping to keep animals safe and healthy. The APCC call center, which operates 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, handled approximately 199,000 cases in 2017, an increase of nearly 20,000 over 2016, with calls spanning all 50 states and countries across the world.

“Everyone has a part to play in keeping pets safe and being aware of potential toxins,” said Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “Protect your pets from common dangers, particularly prescription and over the counter medications and human foods – including chocolate. Seemingly little things – like remembering to close the cabinet door and block the cleaning supplies – can make a life or death difference for the animals we share our homes and lives with.”

Items on the Top Toxins of 2017 list accounted for over 90 percent of the year’s total cases.

  • APCC handled nearly 35,000 cases involving prescription medications in 2017, making them the number one toxin on the list, followed closely by over the counter medications.
  • Food products, which occupy the third spot, accounted for over 21,500 cases, due in large part to concerns about the artificial sweetener xylitol, present in many sugar-free products.
  • The fourth most prevalent toxin for 2017 was veterinary products. While flavored and chewable medications can make it easier for pets to take a pill, it also means they may eat the entire bottle if given access.
  • Chocolate, which is broken apart from other foods in this data, was the fifth most common toxin. In 2017, APCC received the equivalent of over 48 cases about chocolate per day.
  • The remaining five toxins on the list were household items such as cleaning products, insecticides, rodenticides, plants, and garden products.

One of the thousands of lives impacted by APCC in 2017 was Prince, a 10-month-old tabby cat who fell from his family’s sixth story apartment. A well-intentioned family member gave him a dose of children’s acetaminophen to alleviate any pain from his fall, not knowing that acetaminophen is toxic to pets, including both cats and dogs. In fact, exposure to the drug can be fatal to cats, causing changes in their red blood cells, which are then unable to carry oxygen to vital organs. The family brought Prince to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH), which consulted with APCC to treat the acetaminophen exposure. Prince remained at the AAH for five days, eventually making a full recovery.

For more information about the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, please visit If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435 or contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible.

For more information about the ASPCA, please visit