ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Lists 10 Most Common Pet Toxins

In recognition of National Animal Poison Prevention Week, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center has announced their list of the top 10 pet toxins of 2017.

The Poison Control Center got nearly 200,000 calls about possible poisoning from concerned pet owners last year.  Here are their top categories:

Human prescription medications

17.5% of last year’s calls were about prescription meds.  The most common?  Antidepressants, pain medications, and heart medications.  The Center notes that while most poisoning cases are accidental, you should never give any drug to your pet without talking to your vet.

Over-the-counter medications

OTC drugs accounted for 17.4% of calls to the Center in 2017.  They range from pain medications to vitamins and supplements to allergy and cold meds.  Like Rx drugs, most of these cases are accidental, and you should avoid giving human drugs to your pet (unless your vet says it’s OK).


People food accounted for over 10% of pet poison calls last year.  Sugar-free foods containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol continue to be a hazard, along with other foods like grapes, avocado, alcohol, and raw bread dough.

Veterinary products

Nearly 9% of pet poison cases were caused by veterinary products.  Of special concern are flavored and chewable pet meds that may entice your dog or cat to eat the whole package.


As a people food hazard, chocolate has a category of its very own.  8.8% of APCC cases involved chocolate.  Dogs in particular are at risk for getting into our chocolate treats and eating this toxic food…especially around the holidays.

Household items

8.6% of cases involved household items like paint, cleaning products, glue, and laundry detergent pods.  Yep, pets are getting into those pods too, and the ASPCA notes that they are an up and coming danger for our pets.


The Center reports that insecticide poisoning cases declined last year.  6.7% of calls involved insecticides (such as ant and roach killer).  Be sure to always store them away from pets and take pets out of any room in which they are being used.


6.3% of cases were linked to rodenticides in 2017.  The ASPCA notes that cold weather is linked to more rats and mice entering homes and increased use of these poisons.  Remember that they are as dangerous to your pets as they are to rodents.


Many plants are toxic to pets.  5.4% of cases involved common plants used in outdoor landscaping and indoor flower arrangements.  Lilies are a special danger to cats and both sago palm and oleander are toxic to both dogs and cats.

Garden products

2.6% of the Poison Control Center’s calls involved garden products like fertilizers, herbicides, and soil enhancers.  Some types of mulches can also pose a danger to pets if ingested.  Keep your pets away from areas that have been freshly treated.



Meet FACE Success Story Jax

Jax and Luis

We’re privileged to introduce you to a very special FACE Success Story.

Jax and his dad Luis headed out for a day of fun and were driving north on California’s Interstate 5 when a drunk driver, who was driving the wrong way, collided head-on with them. Both Luis and Jax were ejected from their car, while the drunk driver was fatally injured at the scene.

Jax was in shock, pacing the highway trying to help his dad who was badly injured. Once help arrived, Luis was taken immediately to Scripps Memorial Hospital and Jax was taken to our good friends at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Sorrento Valley. Luis sustained severe injuries, including multiple fractures, head bleeding, collapsed lungs, and a broken spine with the possibility of paralysis. Jax sustained internal bleeding, lacerations, trauma, and a spleen injury requiring surgery. To watch the NBC News story on the accident, click here.

Jax and his veterinary team

Luis, a combat veteran, suffers from PTSD after serving multiple tours in Afghanistan. Jax is his registered therapy dog and a main source of emotional support. “They are best friends that do everything together,” says Luis’s sister, who flew all the way from New York with her mother to be here for Luis and Jax. “Their love is beyond words. Jax has made his life a lot easier and less stressful. If anything happened to Jax, he would be devastated.”  When Luis regained consciousness, his first words were his 3-year-old daughter’s name and “Jax is irreplaceable.”

Jax with his dad and sister

With the support of community donors, FACE was able to assist Jax with receiving emergency care at VSH. VSH did not hesitate in helping Jax and worked with FACE to significantly discount his critical veterinary treatments.

Luis has already undergone multiple surgeries and is progressing each day, but has a long road of recovery ahead of him. It could be 6 months before he can walk again. Jax has been able to visit Luis in the hospital during his recovery.

Jax and his sister

FACE wants to thank everyone for ensuring that Luis has his best friend by his side during this time when the two need each other the most. “Thank you for everything you did for Jax and my brother, says Luis’s sister.  “Words cannot describe how thankful we are. From the bottom of our hearts, our family thanks you.”

Jax with a few of his FACE friends


Keep Your Pets Safe This Easter

Most responsible pet owners know that pets and chocolate don’t mix.  But there are a few other Easter related pet hazards that dog and cat owners should know about.  Here’s a quick rundown on the most common Easter items that could harm your pet.


Chocolate is toxic to our pets and should always be kept away from curious or hungry dogs, cats, and other animals.  Why is chocolate so dangerous?  Besides caffeine, chocolate contains another stimulant called theobromine.  These substances can cause rapid heart rate, agitation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in pets.


The popular Easter lily poses a serous health risk to cats.  Other types of lilies you may bring into your home at Easter are also toxic.  These include tiger and stargazer lilies.  While the exact toxin in lilies hasn’t been identified, a cat that ingests even a small bite of any part of a lily plant (leaf, flower, stem, pollen) can develop severe, sometimes fatal, kidney failure.

Easter Grass

Those thin strands of plastic grass used to line Easter baskets can pose a health risk to pets.  If ingested by dogs, cats, or other animals, they can become lodged in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract and cause an obstruction.  Surgery may be required to remove the blockage and repair intestinal damage.

Easter Dinner

In addition to chocolate, it’s important to keep an eye on your pets as you prepare Easter dinner and serve it at the table.  Remember that common human foods can be harmful to pets.  Here’s a partial list:

  • Alcohol
  • Bread dough
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Raw poultry and poultry bones

You can refer to the Pet Poison Helpline’s complete list of pet toxins for more information.


Meet FACE Success Story Hemi!

Check out this adorable pup and his little lion friend!

Hemi is an 11 year old Pomeranian who was presented to Dr. Tanya Cruz and the emergency team at San Diego’s Veterinary Specialty Hospital after being attacked by another dog. Hemi was then transferred to the VSH surgery specialty department (and FACE Advisory Committee member Dr. Seth Ganz) for treatment of femoral fracture and coxofemoral (hip) luxation.

A FACE grant providing financial assistance for Hemi’s critical veterinary care helped this little guy receive the surgery he so urgently needed.  His post-op care involves sweet snuggles with his favorite stuffed animal!

Join us and our partners at VSH in wishing Hemi a speedy recovery!


Website Raises Awareness About Pet Suffocation Hazards

We’ve all seen funny videos of dogs, cats, and other animals with their heads stuck in potato chip bags or other kinds of food packaging.  But did you ever stop to think about what would happen if your pet got his head stuck in a bag while you were not at home to pull it off?

The website Prevent Pet Suffocation seeks to raise awareness among pet owners about the very real dangers of a seemingly cute situation.  Because may food bags are made from mylar-type materials designed to keep food fresh, these packages can create a vacuum-like seal around your pet’s head as she tries to breathe.

If you are not around to remove the bag, your pet can run around the house in a panic and lose even more oxygen at a faster rate.  Dogs, cats, and other animals can asphyxiate and die in a matter of minutes.

What can you do to prevent this heartbreaking tragedy from happening in your home?  Prevent Pet Suffocation has created an online petition asking Frito Lay to put warning labels on their snack bags.  You can lend your voice to this effort.

Also, check out this infographic for tips on how to prevent suffocation.  It can be as simple as cutting up empty bags and storing open bags in a secure cabinet and not on the kitchen counter.

You can also follow Prevent Pet Suffocation on Facebook to keep up to date on their awareness campaign, and see some very moving posts about people’s beloved pets who have suffered this very sad (and preventable) fate.