Protect Your Dog from These Poisons

According to the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, many common household items can poison your pets, causing illness or even death. The Center, based in Urbana, Illinois, handles over 140,000 cases each year. The most common poisons they encountered in 2008 were:

  • Human medications
  • Insecticides
  • People food
  • Rodenticides
  • Veterinary medications
  • Plants
  • Chemicals
  • Household cleaners
  • Heavy metals
  • Fertilizer

Human Medications

Prescription medication pills
People medication is one common poison.
Although people usually don't set out to give their dogs a taste of human medicine, the Center estimates that more than a third of the calls they receive are due to animals who have been poisoned by painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants, and other over-the-counter and prescription medications. Big dogs are notorious counter surfers, and even small dogs scurry after pills that get dropped on the floor. No dog should ever be given human medication without first having a veterinarian's approval. Although it is generally safe to give aspirin to a dog, other pain relievers are toxic. And even aspirin may be unsafe for a specific dog, depending on his health conditions and other medications he takes.


When you think of insecticides, you typically consider lawn and garden chemicals designed to keep tiny pests away from your vegetables and grass. However, this category also includes flea and tick killers specifically designed to treat your pets. Used incorrectly, such as applying too large of a dose or using a medication meant for a dog to treat a cat, these medications can be deadly. Even though your dog will not likely be eating the insecticide in a flea and tick medication, he can become ill because it soaks in through his skin.

And, of course, the insecticides meant for your lawn and garden should be kept locked up, and any spills should be cleaned up immediately. After you apply fertilizers or other insecticides to your grass, water them in or wait until after it rains before you let your dog into the area. If this is not possible, be sure to wash your dog's feet after he comes inside so he doesn't try to lick off the poison.

People Food

Probably the biggest culprit for poisonous food is chocolate. It's hard to believe that anything so good could be toxic, but the truth is that chocolate contains methylxanthines which have an effect similar to caffeine. Darker chocolates contain even more of this poison. Methylxanthines speed up the dog's system, causing hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures, and even death. In addition, all chocolate contains an unhealthy amount of fat for your dog.

Other foods your dog should avoid include alcoholic beverages, avocadoes, macadamia nuts, onions, raisins, grapes, salt, yeast dough, garlic, and anything containing xylitol. This artificial sweetener is found in sugar-free candies and gum, so put those Easter baskets up high where your dog can't get into them.


There are a lot of different ways to kill or trap mice that find their way into your home. Only some of them are safe for your dog. Rat poisons contain not only the active poison, but also inactive ingredients that can be bad for your dog. Eating rat poison isn't likely to kill your dog, especially if he is large, but it can cause bleeding, seizures, and kidney damage.

Veterinary Medications

Yes, veterinary medications are made for pets, but it's surprising how many times these very medications can cause animal poisoning. Your vet will give you specific instructions for dosing your pet, and these instructions should be carefully followed. Just because one pill is good doesn't mean that two pills will be better. And just because you have found a miracle drug for your cat doesn't mean it will help your dog. Even a medication that works wonders for one dog may be toxic to another.

Now that many pet medications can be purchased online, it is tempting to try to treat your dog yourself for many common ailments. However, you must always consult your vet before giving any medications to your beloved pet. You will save yourself a world of heartache!

Cyclamen plant
Cyclamen is one of many plants that are poisonous to dogs.

Many common houseplants can cause your dog problems. Surprisingly, poinsettias are not on the list, even though common wisdom is that they are poisonous. A few of the plants that can cause your dog problems include marijuana, sago palm, tulip bulbs, azaleas, rhododendrons, oleander, castor beans, cyclamen, kalanchoe, yew, amaryllis, autumn crocus, cactus, chrysanthemum, columbine, English ivy, mistletoe, peace lily, pothos, and schefflera. The effects of these plants range from mild stomach upset to organ damage to suppression of the bone marrow, producing a leukemia-type illness. So, plan your garden carefully and keep the dogs on their side of the fence. If you are sending flowers or plants to a friend who has dogs, ask your florist to include only pet-friendly items, or check the pet-friendly selections at

Chemicals and Household Cleaners

Common household chemicals dangerous to your dogs include antifreeze, pool cleaners, paint thinner, and drain cleaners. Any of these substances can cause stomach upset, depression, respiratory distress, and burns. All chemicals should be locked up as if you had a toddler in the house. Similarly, cleaners such as bleach, detergents, and disinfectants can cause digestive tract problems and irritation to the respiratory tract.

Household cleaning products
Household cleaners and other common chemicals can pose a real danger to your dog.
To see if you dog can get into the cupboard where you keep your chemicals, try placing a dog treat inside the cupboard. If your dog can get to the cookie, you need to move the chemicals and cleaners.

Heavy Metals

Most paints today do not contain lead paint because of the risk to children, but older homes still contain high levels of lead that can poison your dogs. Other heavy metals that can cause problems include zinc and mercury.


Everybody loves a healthy, green lawn, but fertilizers can wreak havoc on your dog. Not only do you have to make sure to keep the bag of fertilizer out of his reach, but you also must keep the dog off of the lawn until the fertilizer has been soaked into the ground or washed from the blades of grass by rain or the sprinkler. Consult the bag before applying fertilizer for the specific warnings relevant to that product.

What should you do if your pet has been poisoned?

If your dog is unconscious or having seizures or trouble breathing, take him immediately to your vet's office or local emergency clinic. Call ahead so they know you are coming and are prepared to receive you and provide immediate treatment.

Less serious cases of poisoning may require only home treatment. Call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center hotline at toll-free at 888-426-4435. Although the call is free, you may have to pay a consultation fee, so make sure your credit card is handy.

You should be prepared to tell the operator the species, breed, age, gender, and weight of your dog, as well as the symptoms he is experiencing and what you think he may have been exposed to. If you can, you should provide an estimate of how much of the poison was involved and when the dog was exposed. Keep the package handy so you can provide label information to the operator, and bag up anything the dog vomits so it can be analyzed if you have to go to the vet's office.

More information on common toxins and on the services provided by the Animal Poison Control Center can be found at


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Yeah, I muffle mine with laerys of duct tape on the dimple or a piece of poster take on the dimple- if you were to click it near your head you would see how fricken loud they are- its silly they still make clickers that loud- I think so many dogs get so scared of them the first time they hear them- really silly
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