March is National Pet Poison Prevention Month.
To research and provide you with information to help you keep your pet safe from poisons, we’ve turned primarily to the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center—both offering emergency telephone consultations to pet owners and veterinarians around the clock, 365 days a year.
We’ve selected lists from both call centers of the most commonly-reported toxins—including human medicines, foods, plants and household products—and the most deadly ones, with links to the source materials to guide you directly to much more detailed information.
We conclude with a “More Resources” section below, in which we recommend specific sections from both organizations’ websites for even more detailed information about all sorts of foods, drugs, plants, household supplies and other toxins known to harm pets.
We’ve also highlighted some articles from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Has Your Pet Been Poisoned?
If you are reading this post because you believe your dog or cat has just eaten or been exposed to something poisonous, before you do anything else, call our clinic during office hours at (317) 852-3323 or call the Pet Poison helpline at (855) 764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 right now and follow a veterinarian’s instructions for administering first aid and seeking further treatment.
If you know or suspect your cat or dog has eaten something toxic, call immediately! Your pet’s best chances for survival could very well depend on how quickly you get help.
If possible, have on hand a sample of the poisonous substance and the packaging it came in. The ingredients listed on the label may well determine the next best treatment steps.
To learn what to do in case of a possible poisoning, visit the Pet Poison Helpline’s Emergency Instructions page where you’ll find advice on what to do and, just as important, what not to do.
Despite what you may have heard about home remedies—giving your pet milk, salt, oil or hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting—don’t do anything before you speak with a veterinarian. Depending on the toxin, you could make matters much worse.
Most Commonly-Reported Toxins
In its 2022 Annual Report Card infographic, the Pet Poison Helpline named these “Toxins Topping the Charts:”
- Foods—Chocolate, Grapes and Raisins and Xylitol
- Plants—Lilies (Lilium species), Pothos or Devil’s Ivy and Sago Palm
- Household Products—Rodenticides, Fertilizers and Insecticides
- Prescription Drugs—Amphetamine Combos, Gabapentin and Levothyroxine
- Over-the-Counter Drugs—Ibuprofen, Vitamin D3 and Acetaminophen
Chocolate was the Pet Poison Helpline’s most common toxin of 2022. The “most surprising” was magnesium, and the “emerging toxin of the year” was marijuana. The Helpline named 5-fluorouracil as the most dangerous toxin of the year, also named recently by the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center as the most deadly toxin (see below).
The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center reported these most-commonly reported toxins during 2021:
- Over-the-Counter Medications
- Prescription Drugs for Humans
- Bouquets and Plants
- Household Toxicants
- Veterinary Products
- Garden Products
To see an annotated list of the above toxins, along with an infographic, visit the ASPCA website.
In years past, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center has released updated lists in March, so look for the 2022 list to appear on the website in the coming weeks.
Based on a list from the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, the American Veterinary Medical Association posted “10 poison pills for pets” on its website—an annotated list of over-the-counter and prescription drugs for humans most commonly generating calls to the Center. The drugs are, in order of report frequency:
- Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®)
- Tramadol (Ultram®)
- Alprazolam (Xanax®)
- Zolpidem (Ambien®)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin®)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
- Naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta®)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor®)
If you keep any of these drugs in your household, we encourage you to read the entire article, including details on each drug and a list of safety tips to protect your pet from being poisoned by over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
The AVMA lists these “7 Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Dog or Cat:
- Xylitol-Containing Products (like sugar-free candy and gum)
- Grapes and Raisins
- Fatty and Fried Foods
- Macadamia Nuts
Here’s an alphabetized list from the ASPCA of “People Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Pets:”
- Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
- Coconut and Coconut Oil
- Grapes and Raisins
- Macadamia Nuts
- Milk and Dairy Products
- Onions, Garlic and Chives
- Raw or Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
- Salt and Salty Snack Foods
- Yeast Dough
See the article for details about the potential dangers of each food and beverage category to your pet.
The Pet Poison Helpline lists these as the 10 most commonly-reported toxic plants from 2017 through 2022:
- Asiatic Lily, Easter Lily, Tiger Lily, etc.
- Pothos/Devil’s Ivy
- Sago/Cycad Palm
- Peace Lily
- Day Lily
The Deadliest Pet Toxins
In October 2022, the ASPCA listed these as the 10 deadliest pet toxins:
- 5-Fluorouracil, a prescription ointment or lotion used to treat skin cancer in humans
- Amphetamines, most often prescribed for weight loss or ADHD treatment
- Baclofen, a prescription muscle relaxer for humans
- Calcium Channel Blockers, prescribed to treat high blood pressure
- Lamotrigine, a drug prescribed to prevent or reduce the severity of seizures
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, an over-the-counter supplement often used for sleep or mood moderation.
- Hops, used by home beer brewers
- Metaldehyde, the active ingredient in some slug and snail baits
- Blue-Green Algae, found in some lakes, ponds and rivers
- Methomyl, found in some fly baits
Visit the posted list for more details.
Overall, for the most authoritative, detailed, pet-owner-friendly information on pet poisons, we recommend the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center websites.
The Helpline’s comprehensive “Poisons” section can be filtered by the type of poison, with links to detailed information of each toxin and its impact on pets.
In its “Owners” section, the Helpline website offers brief videos and safety tips for pet owners.
The “Vets” section has continuing education information for veterinary professionals as well as links to conference handouts and a collection of infographics you can see and download for free.
In the “Toxin Tails” section, Pet Poison Helpline features a case each month of a pet successfully treated for poisoning.
See the “Toxin Trends” section for a color-coded interactive map of the United States showing the origin of calls for the 30 most commonly reported plants, along with charts showing the most frequently reported clinical signs and call frequency by month.
The Helpline’s blog has numerous posts focused on specific types of hazards, with category filters to help pet owners and veterinarians find the most relevant content.
You can sign up for the Pet Poison Helpline’s free emailed newsletter just above the footer on most pages of their website.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control website offers a lengthy, searchable directory of toxic plants, by both common and scientific names, that can be filtered for dogs, cats or horses. Click on any plant name to see a photograph and details about the plant and its toxic properties.
In its “Poisonous Household Products” article, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center evaluates multiple potentially harmful household products, medicines and cosmetics, indicating the potential risks of toxicity associated with each.
“Household Hazards,” from the American Veterinary Medical Association website offers a detailed round-up of potential toxins organized by the area of the house and yard where they might be found. There’s also a section on holiday hazards.
Finally, see our blog post, “Protect Your Dog From Xylitol Poisoning.”