National Poison Prevention Week, which takes place during the third full week of March each year, is a great time to take stock of your home and yard, to see what pet hazards are lurking there. To find out which toxins most commonly affect pets, check out the ASPCA’s list of the top 10 pet toxins that are reported to their Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). Keep your furry pal safe by blocking their access to the following most common pet toxins.

#1: Over-the-counter medications and pets

Claiming the number one spot for the third year in a row are over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Cold and flu medicine, vitamins and supplements, and common pain relievers (e.g., ibuprofen and acetaminophen) make up the bulk of the reported toxicity cases in this category. Although some supplements, like fish oil, can be given to pets, always consult with Dr. Man first, to avoid any adverse side effects or drug interactions.

#2: Human prescription medications and pets

Antidepressant, anticonvulsant, and cardiac medications top the list of human prescription medications that commonly cause toxicity in pets. Your pet may ingest your prescription medication that falls on the floor and you fail to find. Or, your four-legged friend may chew on the pill bottle until they reach the “treats” inside. Keep your pet safe from toxicity by carefully taking your medication in a closed room, and finding any dropped tablets before allowing your pet back in the room. Ensure you secure all pill bottles out of your pet’s reach, and never leave them on your bedside table or in your purse.

#3: Human foods and pets

Not all toxic foods for pets are well-known, which can cause inadvertent toxicity cases. Dangerous situations can also occur if food is left in reach of a hungry pet, or the trash can is easily accessible. Foods that are toxic for pets include:

  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Currants
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Xylitol

If your pet eats enough of a food simply flavored with toxic ingredients, such as a dish that contains garlic, they can still develop toxicity problems.

#4: Chocolate in dogs

Although chocolate is a food, the APCC receives so many calls that this sweet treat has its own category. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and seizures in pets. A good rule of thumb is to remember that the darker the chocolate, the more toxic for your pet. Hide your chocolate stash out of your pet’s reach to keep them safe, and to avoid a potential gastrointestinal obstruction from ingested candy wrappers.

#5: Plants and flowers in cats

Outdoor plants and flower bouquets can seriously threaten your pet’s health. The most notorious flowery toxin is the lily, because cats who come in contact with a lily, no matter how briefly, can succumb to kidney failure. Before designing your flowerbeds or decorating your home with floral arrangements, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants.

#6: Household items in pets

Toxicants inside the home consist of a large group of items, ranging from cleaning and home repair products, to craft supplies, to makeup. Pets have a nose for mischief, and can easily get into things they shouldn’t if they’re left out. Paint and spackle must be put away at the end of a home improvement project, the kids’ craft room door must stay closed, and cleaning supplies must be returned to a securely latching cabinet when not in use.

#7: Rodenticides in pets

Rodenticides work in a variety of ways, and can cause bleeding issues, seizures, kidney failure, or death. The rodenticide ingredients are as tempting to pets as they are to mice, so avoid using these products in areas your pet can reach, or search for pet-safe alternatives for rodent control.

#8: Veterinary products and dogs and cats

Although veterinary products are designed to be safe for pets, they’re also formulated to be highly palatable. Unfortunately, the palatability that makes giving your pet supplements or medications easy also appeals so much to your four-legged friend that they may search out their prescription to finish off the bottle. Never leave your pet’s medicated chews or tablets where they can reach them, and ensure you know their correct dose before leaving Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital.

#9: Insecticide in pets

Ant baits, bug repellents, and insecticide sprays contain harmful ingredients for your pet. Refrain from spraying mosquito repellent on your pet, and ensure any products that kill insects are used only when your pet is safely confined out of harm’s way.

#10: Garden products and pets

Fertilizers, especially those that contain organic ingredients, are tantalizing to dogs. Mulch made from cocoa can also pose a threat. Use pet-friendly fertilizers and herbicides to keep your furry pal safe. 

If you suspect your pet has been in contact with a potential toxin, don’t wait until they begin showing toxicity signs to seek treatment. Contact an animal poison control hotline, like the ASPCA APCC, for immediate assistance. Their team of veterinary toxicologists are experts in their area, and will give the best advice for your next steps. Then, after you’ve contacted poison control, call our Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital team. Poison control should give you a case number to share with Dr. Man, so we can best help your pet recover as soon as you arrive at our hospital.