Human OTC Medications Lead ASPCA’s Annual List of Top Toxins for Pets

ASPCA Poison Control Center releases list of top 10 toxins for pets in conjunction with National Poison Prevention Week
March 18, 2019

NEW YORK – Today the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) kicked off National Poison Prevention Week (March 17-23) with the release of its annual list of Top Toxins. 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 213,773 cases in 2018, an increase of approximately 17,000 over 2017, with calls spanning all 50 states and countries across the world.

“As pet owners it is our responsibility to protect our pets from potential toxins found around our homes,” said Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “Remembering to do simple things like shutting cabinet doors and keeping medications and food items out of reach can ensure the safety of our furry companions.”

Topping the list in 2018 were human over-the-counter (OTC) medications. “Pet owners tend to treat OTC medications as less dangerous than prescription medications, but that is not always the case,” said Wismer. “Common household medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and cold and flu medicines can cause life-threatening medical issues such as gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney failure in pets.”

The remaining of the top ten items on the Top Toxins of 2018 list include the following:

  • Prescription medications – The APCC answered 36,916 calls just last year of pets ingesting prescription medications. ADHD medication, antidepressants, and heart medications make up the majority of these calls. It is crucial to your pet’s health and well being to keep all human medications out of paws reach at all times.
  • Food products – There are a number of foods that can cause your pet to become ill. The top culprits are grapes, raisins, onions, and xylitol – a sugar substitute. Each of these foods can cause severe symptoms in pets and can lead to a fatal situation. For a more extensive list of foods that can cause harm to your pets see here.
  • Chocolate – Chocolate, in many different forms, is extremely dangerous as curious pets love the taste. The APCC receives an average of 60 cases per day of chocolate toxicity. Dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the most potent, but all types of chocolate can become toxic given the amount.
  • Veterinary Products – Many medications for pets come in the form of chews which can be mistaken for delicious treats to your pets. Also make sure to treat these medications, such as joint and allergy chews, as prescription medicines and keep them away from your pets.
  • Household Items – Cleaning products, fire logs, and home improvement products such as paint and spackle are extremely toxic for your pets. Make sure to always restrict access to these while you are away.
  • Rodenticides – Rodenticide exposure increased in the last year to 6.3% of the APCC’s calls. Remember that pets, along with rodents, find baits very tasty.  Rat or mouse bait ingestion can be deadly for our pets
  • Insecticides – Despite rodenticide exposure increasing, insecticide exposure decreased in 2018. Keep pets away and follow label directions when using insecticides.
  • Plants – Indoor and outdoor plants as well as bouquets can all be sources of potential problems for pets. APCC received 11,857 cases of household plant poisoning last year.
  • Garden Products – Many pets find fertilizers irresistible. Make sure your pets aren’t ‘helping’ when you are out working on the lawn or in the garden with herbicides and soil enhancements.

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