Top 10 Most Frequently Reported Poison Dangers for Dogs in 2011

Think you know how to pet-proof your house, garden and yard? Think again…

Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center based out of Minneapolis, MN, just released their 2011 "Top Ten List" of potential poisons in homes and yards. By releasing this list, they are hoping to educate dog owners and provide veterinarians with the latest facts and statistics. Hopefully soon: The top 10 cat list!

Believe it or not? Your kitchen foods are the most dangerous to our beloved four-legged canine types.

  1. Kitchen foods (e.g., chocolate, xylitol, grapes/raisins, etc.)

    Thanks to the chemical in chocolate, theobromine (a relative of caffeine), chocolate can be very toxic to dogs. The darker, more bitter, and more concentrated the chocolate is (e.g., bakers chocolate), the more dangerous it is. White chocolate, which contains very little "dangerous" theobromine, is still potentially dangerous due to all the sugar and fat, which can result in pancreatitis in dogs.

    Another common kitchen toxin is xylitol, a natural sweeter often found in sugarless gums, candies, baked goods, and chewable multivitamins, amongst other sources. Xylitol can result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar, and even liver failure when ingested — even in small amounts.

    Lastly, raisins and grapes, often overlooked as one of the most toxic foods to dogs, can result in kidney failure.

  2. Insecticides (e.g., sprays, bait stations, and some types of spot on flea/tick treatments)

    Certain garden dangers are dangerous to dogs. Ingestion of insecticides and pesticides, especially those found in rose-care products (which can contain dangerous organophosphates), can be life-threatening to dogs, even when ingested in small amounts.

    While bait stations are often safer, they should still be kept out of reach due to the potential for the plastic getting stuck in the stomach. Finally, certain types of spot-on flea and tick treatments work well for dogs, but they can be very toxic to cats when not applied appropriately.

    Cat owners should read labels carefully, as those that contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids (a chemical derivative of the mum, or Chrysanthemum flower); when canine flea and tick treatments are erroneously applied on cats, it can result in severe tremors and seizures.

  3. Mouse and rat poison (i.e., rodenticides)

    There are many types of chemicals in mouse and rat poisons, all with different active ingredients and types of action, making all of them potentially poisonous to dogs. Depending on what type was ingested, poisoning can result in internal bleeding, brain swelling, kidney failure, or even severe vomiting and bloat. The safest bet? Not using them. If you have a mouse problem, resort to old-fashioned mouse traps instead!

  4. NSAIDS human drugs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen)

    Common pain-relievers, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), include brands like Advil, Aleve, and Motrin. When ingested, NSAIDs can cause serious harm to dogs; cats are twice as sensitive as dogs. These drugs should never be given to a pet without consulting a veterinarian, as NSAIDs can cause severe gastrointestinal ulcers and even kidney failure.

  5. Household cleaners (e.g., sprays, detergents, polishes)

    Most people are pretty smart when it comes to keeping these products away from their dogs. Certain cleaners are strong acids or bases, and can be very corrosive. These include common household products like toilet bowel cleaners, lye, drain cleaners, rust removers, and calcium/lime removers.

    Remember that "natural" does not necessarily mean safe, as some natural products can cause severe reactions. In general, while some surface cleaners (e.g., glass products, spot removers, etc.) have a wide margin of safety, it is still wise to keep them out of reach.

  6. Antidepressant human drugs (e.g., Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Effexor)

    Up to 50 percent of the calls to Pet Poison Helpline are comprised of human medication ingestion, with antidepressants accounting for the highest number of calls. Sad, eh? Literally. When ingested, these antidepressants can cause neurological problems in dogs. Signs of severe sedation, walking drunk, agitation, tremors, hypertension, elevated heart rate, tremors, and even seizures can be seen.

  7. Fertilizers (e.g., bone meal, blood meal, iron-based products)

    While some fertilizers are fairly safe, certain organic products that contain blood meal, bone meal, feather meal and iron may be especially palatable — and dangerous — to dogs. Large ingestions of these substances can form a concretion in the stomach (i.e., a rock-hard cement-like foreign body obstruction) and even pancreatitis (i.e., inflammation of the pancreas).

  8. Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol and cough/cold medications)

    In dogs, Tylenol can cause liver failure and dry eye. This drug is even more dangerous to cats due to their unique liver metabolism. A single Tylenol tablet can be fatal to cats. Never administer this anti-fever medication without consulting a veterinarian.

  9. Amphetamine human drugs (e.g.,  Adderall,  Concerta, etc.)

    Drugs used to treat ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) contain potent stimulants, such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even small ingestions can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart abnormalities (e.g., elevated heart rate, arrhythmias, hypertension, etc.).

  10. Veterinary pain relievers (e.g., Rimadyl, Dermaxx, Previcox, etc.)

    Carprofen, more commonly known by its trade name Rimadyl, is a veterinary-specific, NSAID. While it is commonly used for osteoarthritis, inflammation and pain control in dogs, if over-ingested in large amounts, it can result in severe gastric ulceration and acute kidney failure in dogs. The chewable form of these common veterinary NSAIDs are so tasty that even cats will ingest them, so make sure to pet-proof these NSAIDs and keep them out of reach!


When in doubt, crawl on your hands and knees to get a "dog’s-eye view" of potential dangers lurking in your house, garden, and yard. Even unsuspecting items like kitchen toxins pose big poisoning dangers to dogs. When in doubt, always contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline if you suspect your pet has been poisoned. When it comes to treating poisons, the sooner it’s identified, the less expensive and less dangerous it is to your pet!

Dr. Justine Lee

Image: Bencha Stewart / via Shutterstock

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