Mar 142017

As March is National Animal Poison Prevention Month, the ASPCA Pet Poison Control has released their list of the items that caused the most harm to dogs in 2016. Last year the APPC received 180,639 calls for animals that ingested toxic items. Keeping our pets safe is a priority. While prevention is always the best medicine to keep your dog safe from common toxins, knowing the symptoms of possible poisoning may save your pet’s life.


  1. Human Prescription Medications. After a one-year hiatus, human prescription medications prescription medsaccounted for nearly 17% of all cases at the APCC. Heart medications, antidepressants and ADHD medications were among the top prescriptions ingested by dogs. Even a minimal amount of these medications being ingested can cause life threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature, heart problems and even death.

  2. Over-the-counter products. OTC products just barely dropped out of the first position with 16.7% of APCC’s cases. This category is exceptionally large, encompassing nearly 7,000 products, and ibuprofen is still the number one medication the APCC receives calls about.

  3. Human Food. Dogs ingest human foods more often than cats. The most serious trouble is caused by eating onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, and alcohol. It can take only a few grapes or raisins to make your dog sick. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy. If ingested, it can cause liver damage or kidney failure in dogs. This year, food moved up the rankings on APCC’s list—mostly due to concerns about xylitol, an artificial sweetener.
  4. Veterinary products. Over-the-counter supplements for joints and prescription pain medications made up a large portion of these cases. Although these can be a tasty treat for your pet, you want to make sure you follow the prescribed directions on giving these to your dog. At 9.3% of this year’s cases, veterinary products moved up two places on the list.
    prescription meds
  5. Household Items. Products like paint, glue and cleaning supplies contributed to tens of thousands of poison cases each year. Common household cleaners such as toilet bowl cleaners, lye, drain cleaners, and rust removers pose the highest risk. Remember that a natural cleaner, may still not be safe for your dog.
  6. chocolate barsChocolate. The chemical causing toxicity in chocolate is theobromine. The darker, more bitter and more concentrated the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Milk chocolate is not as dangerous as dark, but can be if ingested in large amounts. APCC received about 8% of their cases

  7. Insecticides. Possibly due to the availability of more pet safe insecticides, the total number of these cases has steadily decreased in recent years—sliding from #3 in 2015 to #7 in 2016. Keep your pets off lawns or gardens that have been treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides. If your dog has come in contact with treated lawns or has walked on snow or ice treated with ice-melt, wipe his feet clean as insecticidessoon as you get home to avoid the possibility of him licking his paws and ingesting the poison. Store all chemicals in cabinets and other places your pet can’t reach.
  8. Pest control baits /Rodenticides. 2016 saw an increase from the previous year, moving up a spot on APCC’s list, making up nearly 5.5% of all cases. Store poisonous baits to rid your home of pests (rodents, snails, insects, etc.) in places that your pooch cannot access. Depending on what type was ingested, poisoning can results in internal bleeding, brain swelling, kidney failure or even severe vomiting and bloat.


  9. Plants. Both indoor and outdoor plants, along with bouquets, can be dangerous for pets. Be sure to understand the toxicity of plants before putting them in or around your house. Dropping one spot this year from #8 to #9, plants accounted for 5.2% of APCC’s cases.
  10. Garden Products. Completing the 2016 Top 10 list is garden products, including herbicides and fungicides, which accounted for 2.6% of the cases. Many pets find fertilizers irresistible, so it’s important to store lawn and garden products out paws’ reach, and to supervise pets whenever they’re outside.

Symptoms of poisoning (toxicity) in your pet can include:

  • Vomiting/upset stomach
  • Labored OR shallow breathing
  • Drooling
  • Increased OR decreased heart rate
  • Fever
  • Hyperactivity OR sluggishness/lethargy
  • Increased thirst OR lack of thirst or hunger
  • Dilated pupils
  • Stumbling or staggering
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Loss of consciousness


If you think your dog has ingested a dangerous substance, contact your veterinarian, local animal hospital or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24 hour hotline at (888) 426-4435 immediately. If you are advised to bring the dog into the veterinary clinic, be sure to take along the item you think your dog may have eaten. This will help the veterinarian to know how best to treat your pet.


Consult with your veterinarian for a detailed list of all potentially poisonous items and substances found around your home.


Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit


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