Each year, the ASPCA releases a list of the most common pet toxins reported to their Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). These toxins are items routinely found in homes, yards, and garages, and can pose a serious threat to your pet’s health, especially if you don’t discover what they have done until it’s too late. The best way to protect your furry pal against potential toxin exposure is by learning about the most common poisons in your home and where they lurk. Here are the 10 most reported pet toxins in 2020, as listed by the ASPCA APCC.

#1: Over-the-counter medications: Keep them above the counter away from pets

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be hidden anywhere, but a curious pet can sniff them out in purses, backpacks, and jacket pockets, or sitting on nightstands and tables. The wide range of OTC medications includes pain relievers, cold and flu medicine, vitamins and supplements, and topical products.

#2: Human prescription medications: Not for pet consumption

Most human prescription medications are stored in medicine cabinets well out of the reach of children—and pets—but they can still be found in purses and on tables, or dropped on the floor, for a nearby pet to snatch up before you retrieve the pill. Common human prescriptions that create toxicity in pets include antidepressant, anticonvulsant, and cardiac medications.  

#3: Human foods: Watch what your pet eats

Many human foods are off-limits for pets, whether they root them out of the trash, snatch them off the counter, or are unknowingly offered a toxic treat. When sharing snacks with your pet, stick to fresh fruits and veggies. Leave out grapes and raisins, as well as garlic, onions, leeks, chives, macadamia nuts, raw yeast dough, and alcohol, which are all toxic to pets. 

#4: Chocolate: Tastes good, but extremely toxic to pets

Chocolate is another human food toxic for pets that, because so many chocolate toxicity cases occur each year, receives its own special category. Unattended chocolate in candy dishes, or chocolate shared accidentally during holidays, is a huge risk for dogs, who seem to love chocolate and can quickly eat enough to make themselves sick. In addition to the chocolate itself, they can also eat the wrappers and foil, which can create a gastrointestinal obstruction.

#5: Bouquets and plants: Don’t bring your pet flowers

Both indoor and outdoor plants can be hazardous to pets, including those found in cut bouquets. The most toxic plant for cats is the lily, because the pollen alone can cause kidney failure. Before brightening your home and yard with various blooms, or potting plants indoors, check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants for pets.

#6: Household toxicants: Don’t enlist your pet’s help for home projects

More people spent time at home the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and finally crossed many household projects off their to-do list. However, this gave pets ample opportunity to get into a variety of household toxicants, including paint, adhesives, spackle, and cleaning chemicals. Ideally, keep your pet out of the room you’re remodeling, and lock up all products not in use.

#7: Rodenticide: Don’t treat your pet like a rat

The ingredients that make rodenticide so appealing to mice and rats are the same ingredients that can attract your cat or dog. Whether a rodenticide causes clotting disorders or heart problems, they are all serious toxins to keep away from your pet.

#8: Veterinary products: May be flavored, but can be toxic to pets

Veterinary products are often flavored to entice pets to take their medication. However, those flavorings can prove too tempting, and your furry pal may sneak into any container not placed well out of paws’ reach. If you have a flavored pet medication, such as parasite prevention, supplements, or chronic medications, ensure they’re locked up securely after administration.

#9: Insecticides: Search for pet-safe products

Ant baits, bug sprays, and other yard and home products designed to attract and kill insects can prove equally tempting to your pet. Ant baits in particular are a big concern, as they are highly toxic to pets. Search for pet-safe products instead.

#10: Garden products: They make you home beautiful, but not your pet

Fertilizers that contain bone or blood meal are especially appealing to pets, but they’re toxic and should not be ingested. Herbicides and other products that make your lawn a beautiful green or your garden extra lush can be dangerous for your pet, so read the instruction label carefully for safe use around cats and dogs.

If you suspect your pet has been exposed to a toxin, don’t delay. Contact an animal poison control hotline, like the ASPCA APCC, for immediate advice. Their veterinary toxicologists will tell you the first steps you should take, and provide you with a case number that our Somerset Animal Hospital veterinarians will use when you arrive. Before heading to our hospital, call us to let us know you’re on the way, so we can be fully prepared to provide urgent care for your pet.