Harmful Pet Toxins

It may seem like commonsense advice, but a dropped pill can be bad news to pets as well as children. For the third year in a row, human medications top the list of harmful pet toxins. Pat Hernandez has more.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says pets come into contact with some pretty toxic substances that could potentially poison them. Household medication tops the list of harmful pet toxins. Dr. Camille
DeClementi is with the ASPCA, which fielded over 167K calls last year:

“Ibuprofen, naproxin, acetaminophen, those are big calls we get. Also, as far as medications that are prescribed that animals are getting into, those are the pain medications as well, in addition to medications used to treat ADHD, and antidepressants. Those are some one the ones that top our list.”

Human medications, although tested extensively on animals before they’re marketed, can cause everything from diarrhea to organ failure to death in household animals. Cathy Gibson is with Stafford Oaks Veterinary Hospital. She says they often get calls from pet owners about dogs getting into a medicine bottle:

“Quite frequently, that’s how some of them get the medication. If the owner didn’t drop it, they will chew the bottle open and eat the pills from the bottle.”

Vets say a good idea is to take medications behind a closed door with your pet not watching. Gibson also says you shouldn’t give your pets table scraps, because human food can be toxic to animals.

“People food in general, is not good for pets. Regular food can give them gastritis and make them really sick. There’s also the toxic foods: the onions, the garlic, the raisins, the xylitol. Some dogs like to eat gum and it’s toxic to them.”

With Easter just around the corner, she says be aware that all lillies are very poisonous to cats.

Signs that your pet ate something may not be easy to spot. Dr DeClementi with the ASPCA says symptoms vary, depending on the medication.

“If you have evidence that your animal has been exposed to something like you dropped a pill and obsessing, or you found a chewed up bottle, then call your veterinarian right away, or call the Poison Control Center (888 426-4435) so we can help you decide what the risk is to your pet.”

The bottom line is take the same precautions around pets as you would around children. Keep harmful products out of the way.

“But the precautions you would take with a toddler, you need to be a little bit more careful. Because dogs can sometimes open cabinets, they’ll chew into bottles which are considered childproof, and cats will get up on counters and knock things down.”

For a list of toxins and other resources to keep pets safe, go to the ASPCA website at