Top Toxins That Poison Our Pets

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 2:00pm
Dog laying next to open pill bottle

Happy National Poison Prevention Week! In 2013, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Illinois, handled nearly 180,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which are everyday household items

Thousands of pet parents called our 24-hour poison control hotline last year. Read on to learn more about common household items that resulted in frequent calls to APCC, and find out why they’re so dangerous to our furry friends.

1. Prescription Human Medications

We handled 24,673 cases regarding human prescription medications—the top offender for the sixth year in a row—in 2013. The top three types of medications that animals were exposed to include: heart medications, antidepressants and pain medications. Many instances of exposure occurred when pet parents dropped their medication when preparing to take it, and before they knew it, Fido had gobbled the pill off the floor.

2. Insecticides

Insecticides are used in the yard, home and on our animals, and nearly 16% of all calls to our poison hotline in 2013 were related to insecticides. Always read the label before using any insecticide on your pet, in your home or in your yard.

3. Over-the-Counter Human Medications

Over-the-counter human products, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and herbal supplements, accounted for nearly 15% of calls to APCC in 2013. Many of these products are tasty to pets, and some can be life threatening if ingested.

4. Household Products

Our poison hotline fielded nearly 17,000 calls about general household products in 2013. Household toxins range from fire logs to cleaning products.

5. People Food

Human foods are often appealing to pets, especially dogs. In 2013, people foods clocked in as the fifth most common pet poison. Pets can get themselves into serious trouble by ingesting onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and the sugar substitute xylitol, among other common food items.

Check out our full list of the top 10 pet toxins of 2013. Remember: if you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

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Lorraine Martin

I have heard that at Hershey's candy company they use the chocoloate which dropped on the floor or is otherwise not passable by quality control to add to cattle feed. Be this as it may, cattle are still different from dogs although they both eat grass.

Peter Hession

Are you slow?

ewa oscarsdotter

Thank you for telling this!!! I didn´t know...I know chocolate can be poison..But I understand when you explain about coffe...There is a lot of things one do NOT know....


Thank you for this tip, I did not know about coffee and pets. I will make sure it is never around them.


GMO feeds should be #1 on this list as they are in every name brand pet food and GMO are poison - PLEASE SELEECT NON GMO ( genetically modified organisms ) when choosing pet foods .

Michael Johnson

I would like to add Lilies and their family of flowers (for cats specifically). We had a bit of a scare around Valentine's Day when I bought my wife flowers. If you look up the Lily and cats on Google you'll find that even tiny bit of pollen and be fatal and nearly un-treatable. Larger doses are almost 100% fatal.


Lots of plants are poisionous to cats and dogs. You need to be careful around all kinds of plants. Even then it doesn't have to be just the plant that is poisionous it can be what they are sprayed with , feritlized with, etc.


Any advice f/ German Shepherd w/severe Perianal Fistula autoimmune disease? He had surgery & on VERY strong antibiotics. NOT healing! Only 4ytrs. old. Please help.
Thank you,


Sorry to hear about your furbaby. Have a look at bio-algae concentrates. The scientist who developed is called Michael Kiriac. It's supposed to have good results on many disorders. Good luck.

Marilyn B.

I live in Europe a few years ago two female dogs one pregnant were poisened out in the fields at the end of the hunting season. Rat poison was used masked in small balls with ham, cheese, olive oil and other goodies??? they died in the space of a couple of hours, reason being that even though my vets are really near to my home it was a Sunday morning two days before Xmas and the young girl who was in charge hadn't got a clue what to do! I hadn't got my vets' cell phone so was unable to call them. Tragic!!!