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5 Common Items That Are Poisonous for Your Pet

older brown dog sitting on the floor, staring up at a plate of food on the table

March is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month, which makes now the perfect time to take a good look around your home and identify the items that are toxic for your pets. Depending on the amount they ingest, all of the items on this list can cause health problems ranging from gastrointestinal distress, vomiting and lethargy to organ failure and even death. Since most pet owners have one or more of the items on this list around the house, in the garage or out in the yard, pet-proofing these areas to keep them out of reach will go a long way towards keeping your fur buddy healthy, happy and safe.

1) Human medications
Each year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) releases a list of the top ten toxins ingested by pets as reported to their Animal Poison Control Center. Topping the lists in both 2015 and 2016 (the organization had yet to release its 2017 list at the time this article was written) were prescription and over-the-counter human medications. These medications — ranging from vitamins and herbal supplements to antidepressants and heart medicines — accounted for over 33% of the calls received by the Center in 2016, with ibuprofen the most commonly reported.

2) Food items
Common food items that are poisonous for both cats and dogs include chocolate (the darker, the more toxic), grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, alcohol and xylitol — an artificial sweetener found in toothpaste, chewing gum, candy and baked goods.

3) Insect and rodent poisons
“Bug killers” and poisons used to kill rodents were both on the ASPCA’s Top 10 list in 2016.

4) Household items
“Household items” — which includes products such as cleaning supplies, paint, glue and fireplace logs — was in the top 5 on the ASPCA’s 2016 list.

5) Veterinary products
Also in the top 5 on the ASPCA’s 2016 list was “Veterinary products,” which includes your pet’s medications and over-the-counter supplements. While all of these products should be kept safely out of reach, be particularly careful with chewables, which — since they’re often flavored — can seem like treats to our pets.

Finding secure places to store these common pet toxins — and taking the time to put them safely away after each use — will help to keep your dog or cat from joining the list of accidental poisoning cases reported each year. However, if despite your best efforts your pet does happen to ingest something potentially toxic, be sure to find and call a vet or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center right away. They’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at (888) 426-4435.