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Keeping Pets Safe: Poison Prevention Week Tips

In honor of National Animal Poison Prevention Week March 20-26, Humane Society Calumet Area (HSCA) urges pet owners to educate themselves about the most common household toxins ingested by pets.

“It’s crucial that pet owners learn about what items in their homes could be dangerous to their pets,” said Dr. Holly Anderson, veterinarian at HSCA’s Estelle Marcus Animal Clinic. “Many owners don’t know that common things like grapes, chocolate and Easter lilies can be toxic to pets.”

For the first time ever, over-the-counter medications and supplements surpassed prescription medications to take the top spot on ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC)’s lists of toxins most commonly ingested by pets, as reported to APCC:

  1. Over-the-counter medications. These medications, including herbal and other natural supplements, attracted the most concern this year for the first time in the APCC’s history, with more than 28,500 cases reported.
  2. Human prescription medications. Prescribed human medications fell to the second spot on the list, representing nearly 16% of all cases. The types of medication to which animals were most often exposed correlate with the most popular medications prescribed to humans.
  3. Insecticides. Insect poisons accounted for nearly 9% of the calls to APCC (more than 15,000 cases). If label directions are not followed, these products can be very dangerous to pets.
  4. Human foods. Pets—especially dogs, who ingest human foods more often than cats—can get into serious trouble by ingesting onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, alcohol and xylitol. More than 14,600 APCC cases in 2015 involved human foods.
  5. Household items. Products found around the home made up more than 14,000 cases in 2015. The most common items for this category include cleaning products, fire logs and paint.
  6. Veterinary medications. Overdoses of medications prescribed by veterinarians represented more than 7% of total cases in 2015. Chewable medications are very appealing to pets, requiring extra caution.
  7. Chocolate. Chocolate continues to be very problematic for pets, accounting for more than 7% of all APCC cases in 2015—averaging more than 30 cases a day. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be.
  8. Plants. Indoor and outdoor plants represented nearly 5% of calls to APCC in 2015. Most of these calls involve cats and houseplants. Be sure to understand the toxicity of plants before putting them in or around your house.
  9. Rodenticides. Rodent poisons can be just as toxic to pets as they are to the mice and rats these products are designed to kill. Last year, APCC handled more than 8,100 cases involving rodenticides.
  10. Lawn and garden products. These products, including herbicides and fungicides, round out the top ten, accounting for 3% of all APCC calls. It’s incredibly important to store lawn and garden products out of the reach of pets.

“It’s important to store any item that could be dangerous safely away from pets,” Dr. Anderson explained.

If a pet has ingested any of the items on APCC’s list or any other potentially poisonous substance, owners should contact their veterinarian or APCC at (888) 426-4435 immediately. APCC is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A call to APCC is toll-free, but a $65 consultation fee may apply.

To learn more about potential household poisons, visit and to learn more about HSCA, visit

Source: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center,

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