Top Pet Toxins of 2012

In 2012, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Illinois, handled more than 180,000 cases of pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances.

For the fifth year in a row, prescription meds for humans top the toxins list.




  1. Prescription Human Medications
    The APCC handled 25,000 cases regarding human prescription medications in 2012. The top three types of medications that animals were exposed to include: heart medications (blood pressure pills), antidepressants and pain medications (opioids and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Many of these exposures were due to people dropping their medication when preparing to take it – and before they knew it their pet had gobbled the pill off the floor.
  2. Insecticides 
    While only 11% of all calls to the APCC are about insecticides, over 50% of the calls to the APCC involving cats pertain to felines exposed to insecticides.
  3. Over-the-Counter Human Medications
    More than 18,000 cases that the APCC fielded in 2012 involved over-the-counter human products. This group contains acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen as well as herbal and nutraceutical products (fish oil, joint supplements).
  4. Veterinary Products and Medications 
    Veterinary products made up nearly 6% of the APCC’s case volume for 2012. Both OTC and prescription veterinary products are included in this group.
  5. Household Products
    There were more than 10,000 calls to the APCC about household products in 2012. Household toxins can range from fire logs to cleaning products. Some items can be corrosive, while other can cause obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract requiring surgical intervention.
  6. People Food (PLEASE SEE LIST BELOW)
    More than 5% of our cases in 2012 were related to the ingestion of people food. One particularly common food accidentally ingested by pets is xylitol, which can cause seizures and liver failure in dogs.
  7. Chocolate 
    Chocolate is still the number one people food that pets ingest (we received over 8,500 calls last year).
  8. Plants
    More than 7,000 cases in 2012 were about pets eating plants. This is one category in which cats lead dogs in the number of exposures.
  9. Rodenticides
    Nearly 4% of calls to the APCC in 2012 were related to baits. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestion can cause internal bleeding, kidney failure or seizures.
  10. Lawn and Garden Products
    Fertilizers, which can be made of dried blood, poultry manure and bone meal, are very attractive to pets, so it is not surprising that we get many calls (almost 3,600 in 2012) on lawn and garden items.

The Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline is (888) 426-4435

10 most dangerous
Human foods that can be dangerous to your pet

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Apple seeds
  • Apricot pits
  • Avocados
  • Cherry pits
  • Candy (particularly chocolate—which is toxic to dogs, cats, and ferrets—and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol)
  • Coffee (grounds, beans, and chocolate-covered espresso beans)
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Gum (can cause blockages and sugar free gums may contain the toxic sweetener Xylitol)
  • Hops (used in home beer brewing)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Moldy foods
  • Mushroom plants
  • Mustard seeds
  • Onions and onion powder
  • Peach pits
  • Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
  • Raisins
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Salt
  • Tea (because it contains caffeine)
  • Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
  • Walnuts
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets)
  • Yeast dough

This information was compiled from various sources.