Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Most Common Pet Toxins

It’s Poison Prevention Awareness Month, a time to get those dangerous chemicals into places that are pet-proof. Home cleaning products, human medicines, dangerous foods—all of these items need to be out of your pet’s reach at all times.

Here is a list of top household toxins, with 2015 claim counts and prevention pointers for each.

Drug Reactions

Nationwide received more claims for drug reactions than all other poisoning claims combined in 2015. Many of these claims involved pets given drugs intended for human consumption, such as over-the-counter pain relievers.

Pet owners often give pets over-the-counter or prescription drugs for their ailments, unaware that even given in small amounts, many of these drugs cannot be metabolized by pets fast enough to prevent an overdose. Never give pets medications without consulting a veterinarian.


Even if these poisons, most often sold in pellet form, are placed away from pets, rodents can carry them to pet-occupied areas. The taste and smell of rodenticides is designed to appeal to small mammals. Pet owners should consider other options for eliminating rodents.


The methylxanthine class of chemical compounds includes theobromine and caffeine, both of which are common ingredients in chocolate. Toxic amounts of theobromine can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, hyperactivity, abnormal rhythms of the heart, or even seizures in pets. Unsweetened baking chocolate contains much higher levels of theobromine than milk chocolate, causing toxicity with the consumption of much smaller amounts.

Plant Poisoning

Many household plants can be toxic to pets, including sago palms, tulips, oleander, hyacinths, poinsettias, azaleas, lilies, and amaryllis. Other plant products including onions, grapes and raisins are also categorized under the company’s plant toxicity code.

Pet owners should exercise extra caution when pets are near these plants and abstain from giving grapes and raisins as treats.

Household Chemicals

Pets will get into just about anything with bright colors and strong odors. Ingestion of cleaning supplies such as bleach, liquid potpourri, even deodorant or toiletries can result in an ill pet.

Keep these items secured.


This deadly component of snail bait can also attract pets. Signs usually occur quickly and include vomiting and whole body tremors.

Pet owners should consider alternative methods for getting rid of snails and slugs.


This group of insecticides works to inactivate acetylcholinesterase, which is essential to nerve function in insects and pets. Ingestion can occur through skin absorption or oral intake.

The chemicals degrade quickly after being sprayed outside, but pets should not be exposed to any area that has recently been sprayed.

Toad Poisoning

Some species of toad, particularly along the Gulf Coast, secrete a toxic substance when threatened – or licked by curious dogs. Toxic effects are immediate and can be life-threatening.

Make sure to regularly monitor pets when outdoors to reduce exposure to hazardous creatures.

Heavy Metals

Mercury, lead or excessive amounts of zinc, iron, cobalt and copper can cause serious illness in pets, especially if allowed to accumulate in a pet’s body.

Pets may be exposed to heavy metals through lead-based paint, ingestion of pennies coined after 1982, vitamins, soil contamination, or water pollutants.


The sweet taste of antifreeze appeals to pets. While most people are aware of the poisonous potential of antifreeze, they may not notice a pool collecting from a leak beneath a car. Regularly give a glance beneath the car and clean any spills immediately.

Contact the Always Compassionate Veterinary Care team at (412) 882-3070 with any questions you may have. 


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