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Top 10 pet toxins for 2010 named

February 9, 2011

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which runs a 24-hour poisons hotline in the US, has released a list of the top pet toxins reported to the service.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre in Urbana, Illinois, fielded more than 167,000 phone calls about pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances in 2010.

It listed the most common toxins as follows:

Human Medications

Human medications are again top of the list. Almost 25 per cent of calls concerned human medications accidentally ingested by pets. The most common include over-the-counter medications (ibuprofen, acetaminophen), antidepressants and ADHD medications.


About 20 per cent of calls were about insecticides. Insecticides are commonly used on pets for flea control and around houses to control crawling and flying bugs. The most serious poisonings occurred when products not labelled for use in cats were applied to them. Always follow label directions.


Baits used to kill mice and rats are mostly grain-based. Not only does this attract rodents, but it attracts dogs and cats. There are several different types of rodenticides that can cause seizures, internal bleeding or kidney failure. Make sure these items are placed in areas that pets cannot access.

People food

Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are commonly ingested by our pets. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, while onions and garlic can cause anaemia if enough is ingested. Xylitol, a sugar alcohol used to sweeten sugar-free gums and mints, can cause low blood sugar and liver failure in dogs.

Veterinary medications

Many medications made for pets are flavored for ease of giving. That means animals may ingest the entire bottle if they find it tasty. Common chewable medications include arthritis and incontinence medications. Contact your vet if a pet ingests more than his proper dose of medication.


Chocolate contains methylxanthines, which act as stimulants to our pets. The darker the chocolate, the more methylxanthines it contains. Methylxanthines can cause agitation, vomiting, diarrhoea, high heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures and death.

Household toxins

Cleaning supplies, such as bleach, acids, alkalis and other detergents, can cause corrosive injury to the mouth and stomach. Other household items such as batteries and liquid potpourri can cause similar problems. Always keep these toxins behind securely locked doors.


Both house plants and outdoor plants can be ingested by pets. Lilies can cause life-threatening kidney failure in cats, while sago palms can cause liver failure in dogs and cats. Keep house plants and bouquets away from pets.


Many herbicides have a salty taste, and pets will commonly ingest them. Always follow label directions and keep pets off treated areas until they are dry.

Outdoor toxins

Antifreeze, fertilisers and ice-melting agents are all substances that animals can find outdoors. Keep these items in securely locked sheds or on high shelves where pets cannot get to them.