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Top 10 Pet Poisons and Toxicities

By: Courtesy of ASPCA

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6. Herbicicides - Around 4,600 calls pertaining to various types of herbicides came through the Center's lines last year. Most herbicides are considered to be relatively safe when used appropriately. However, directions such as "keep animals away from treated area until dry" need to be adhered to in order to avoid the potential for problems such as damage to desirable vegetation, minor skin irritation or stomach upset if ingested.

7. Plants - Over 4,400 cases involving plants were handled by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in 2005, including such varieties as lilies, azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, kalanchoe and schefflera, among others. "There are many different species of plants that could be harmful to pets if consumed in large enough quantities," cautions Dr. Hansen. "For example, just one or two sago palm nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and even liver failure, while lilies are highly toxic to cats and even in small amounts can produce life-threatening kidney failure." While poisonous plants should certainly be kept away from pets, it is also a good idea to discourage animals from nibbling on any variety, as even non-toxic plants could produce minor stomach upset if eaten.

8. Chocolate - More than 2,600 chocolate calls were received by the Center last year. Depending on the type, chocolate can contain large amounts of fat and caffeine-like substances known as methylxanthines. If ingested in significant amounts, chocolate could potentially cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and could even be fatal. "Typically, the darker the chocolate, the greater the potential for poisoning," says Dr. Hansen. "Baking chocolate contains the highest amount of methylxanthines, and just two ounces could cause serious problems for a 10 pound dog."

9. Home Improvement Products - In 2005, approximately 1,800 cases involving paint, solvents, expanding glues and other physical hazards were managed. While the majority of water-based paints are low in toxic potential, stomach upset is still possible, and artist's paints can contain heavy metals that could be poisonous if consumed in a large quantity. Solvents can be very irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, eyes and skin, and could also produce central nervous system depression if ingested, or pneumonia if inhaled. "Prevention is really key to avoiding problems from accidental exposures," says Dr. Hansen. "Pet owners should keep pets out of areas where home improvement projects are occurring, and of course label directions should always be followed when using any product."

10. Fertilizers - More than 1,700 calls pertaining to plant fertilizers were handled last year. In general, most fertilizers are fairly low in toxicity. However, the consumption of significant amounts can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Additionally, some fertilizer formulations may also contain insecticides, which could potentially lead to further problems if eaten.

For more information on other substances potentially hazardous to animals, log onto: www.aspca.org/apcc.


For over 27 years, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has been the premier animal poison control center in North America. The center, an allied agency of the University of Illinois, is the only facility of its kind staffed by 25 veterinarians including 10 board-certified toxicologists and 14 certified veterinary technicians. Located in Urbana, Illinois, the specially trained staff provides assistance to pet owners and specific analysis and treatment recommendations to veterinarians pertaining to toxic chemicals and dangerous plants, products or substances 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In 2005, the center handled over 100,000 cases. In addition, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center provides extensive veterinary toxicology consulting on a wide array of subjects including legal cases, formulation issues, product liability, regulatory reporting and bio surveillance. To reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, call 1-888-426-4435. For more information on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center visit www.aspca.org/apcc (1/06)

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