Pets are notoriously inquisitive and stick their curious noses into everything, including things that can cause serious harm. Unfortunately, many items are toxic if touched, ingested, or inhaled by curious pets, and can cause varying effects, from drooling to death. To highlight your pet’s potential risks, we’ve listed the top 10 most common toxins, plus a few scenarios of pet toxicity. Let’s take a closer look at what hazards may be lurking in your home and garden. 

Common pet toxicities in your home, garage, and garden

Each year, the ASPCA compiles a list of the 10 most common pet toxicities based on calls received at their Animal Poison Control Center. In 2019, these were the most commonly reported pet toxins:

  • Over-the-counter medications — Herbal supplements, joint rubs, and pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the most frequently encountered pet toxin. 
  • Human prescription medications — Whether medications fall on the floor, or are given to a pet to help alleviate pain, the human prescription category largely consists of cardiac, ADHD, thyroid, and antidepressant medications. 
  • Food — Pets receive many goodies from their owners’ plates, but xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and protein bars can be lethal. 
  • Chocolate — This sweet treat receives its own special category outside of food because so many chocolate toxicity cases—more than 67 per day—are reported. 
  • Veterinary products — Veterinary medications are made to appeal to pets, and some cats and dogs will sniff out their tasty prescriptions and ingest the entire bottle. 
  • Household items — Home improvement projects are a serious threat to your pet’s health, with paint, spackle, and adhesives posing a significant risk. 
  • Rodenticides — The wide variety of rodenticides can cause equally varied toxicity signs, including bleeding, kidney failure, seizures, and death. 
  • Plants — Most severe plant toxicity cases involved cats and lily exposure, but check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants before planting your flower beds.  
  • Insecticides — Ant traps, bee and wasp sprays, and DEET-laced products can create serious issues in your pet, so keep them safe by choosing products safe for pets, and careful handling. 
  • Garden products — Organic fertilizers can be irresistible to pets, while herbicides and other chemicals can also pose a threat. 

Like half the country, Texas’ most frequently reported toxin in 2019 was chocolate. 

Common toxicity signs in pets

With such a wide range of toxins that can harm your pet, clinical signs of toxicity or poisoning are varied. If your four-legged friend displays a combination of the following signs, they may have discovered a potentially toxic substance:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia or stumbling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Anemia or pale gum color

Keep in mind that many toxins won’t cause visible signs until days after your pet has come in contact with them, which makes accurate diagnosis difficult. Ensure you block access to any potential toxin in your home, garage, and garden, to keep your best friend safe. 

Guess that toxin

Brush up on your toxin-exposure knowledge by guessing the toxin in the following scenarios. 

  • Case #1: Fernando the cat

Fernando is an inquisitive cat, like all young kittens, and enjoys sticking his whiskers into everything his family brings home. At the end-of-season sale at their local nursery, Fernando’s family loaded up on gorgeous blooms and plants for their home and yard. Eager to brighten up their home, they placed a pot of flowers indoors for a splash of color. Later that day, they discovered Fernando drooling over a chewed-on plant leaf. Worried about their kitty’s drooling, which escalated to vomiting, Fernando’s family rushed him to Holland Lake Animal Hospital.

Guess that toxin: Cats who ingest or only brush against the pollen from lily plants can rapidly succumb to acute kidney failure, and may die without prompt treatment.

  • Case #2: Frank the pug

Frank the pug was an adorable, but naughty, pup, who claimed countless chewed shoes, purses, and other household goods. One day, for a change of pace, he knocked over his mom’s purse and gnawed on the contents, which unfortunately included some gum, rather than the purse itself. Shortly after, his mom found her beloved pooch vomiting, shaking, and struggling to walk without wobbling, and called Holland Lake Animal Hospital in a panic.

Guess that toxin: Xylitol toxicity is becoming more common in dogs, as many foods now contain xylitol—an artificial sweetener—in place of sugar. However, a small amount can be highly toxic to dogs, causing a rapid drop in blood sugar, or fatal liver failure. 

Is your furry pal too curious for their own good, and has sniffed out a potential toxin? If you suspect your pet has encountered a poisonous substance, don’t wait—contact us, or our local emergency hospital, immediately.