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.



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.


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.


The Feline Five: Scientists Outline Five Cat Personality Types

What kind of personality does your cat have?  A large-scale study of 2,800 pet cats in Australia and New Zealand investigated the different personality traits of domestic cats.  The researchers found that there are five distinct personality categories that most cats fall into.

The “Feline Five” personality types identified are:  Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.  They are closely aligned with the Five-Factor Model (aka “Big Five”) of human personality types.  The Big Five are:  Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

The researchers analyzed surveys completed by cat owners and found that the Feline Five were the factors that best depicted the personality of the cats in the survey.

How are these traits expressed in cat behavior?  Here is what the scientists found:

  • Extraversion: active, vigilant, curious, inquisitive, inventive, smart
  • Dominance: bullying, dominant, aggressive (towards other cats)
  • Impulsiveness: impulsive, erratic, reckless
  • Agreeableness: affectionate, friendly to people, gentle
  • Neuroticism: insecure, anxious, fearful of people, suspicious, shy

The researchers note that feline personality analysis can have many practical applications, such as in understanding the relationship dynamics in a multi-cat household.

A cat found to be neurotic can benefit from a quiet environment with hiding places, while extraverted cats can benefit from environmental enrichment and stimulation.  Impulsiveness in a cat can be a good indicator of stress.  Agreeable cats can provide comfort to both humans and other animals in the home.

Owners of dominant cats should be aware of bullying behaviors towards shy cats in a multi-cat home.  Look for dominance over objects (like food) and social dominance (keeping other cats away from you).

Interested in learning more about your own cat?  Read the full article HERE.


How to Create an Animal Friendly Yard

Spring is just around the corner, and it’s never too early to start planning your garden, especially when you’re getting tired of winter!  This spring, make sure your gardening and landscaping plans take your local animals, birds, and insects into account.

How can you make your yard a humane haven for neighborhood wildlife?  The Humane Society of the United States has put together a practical list of tips.  Here’s how you can ensure that your backyard is safe for local wildlife.

  • Provide a source of fresh clean water, such as a birdbath.
  • Offer natural food sources like flowering native plants and bird feeders.
  • Avoid lawn products with harmful chemicals such as pesticides.

  • Build or purchase a bat house so bats can control insects and pollinate plants on your property.
  • Convert all or part of your lawn into a natural native plant habitat for local animals.
  • Place yard debris in a brush pile to create a shelter for small animals like chipmunks and toads.

  • Plant flowers that attract bees and put up specially-designed bee houses for them.
  • Make sure your swimming pool has an escape route like a ramp for wild animals that fall in.

  • Attract beneficial insects like butterflies and beetles with appropriate native plants.
  • Keep cats indoors for their own safety and the safety of local wildlife.

  • Watch out for nesting animals like rabbits and birds while mowing and pruning in the spring.
  • Use humane methods to trap and release wildlife that gets into your home.
  • Prevent deadly bird strikes by applying a few cling decals to your window panes.