March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month, which gives us an opportunity to review the top and many efforts are being made to educate others on how to prevent accidental poisonings. If you have a pet, it is important to know what might make your fur-baby ill. Most of these poisons are commonly found around the house. The more you know, the better you will be prepared. Plus, get your FREE DOWNLOADABLE in this post about the Foods Poisonous to Dogs!
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If you have a dog, it is important to know what foods your dog shouldn’t have. The items highlighted in this information and on the downloadable are the most common foods that cause vomiting, diarrhea and even death in some dogs. Remember, every dog is different and just like in people, some may affect them more adversely. The more you know about how it impacts other dogs, the better you will be prepared.
The food and items on this list were revealed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA) as what they received the most calls about. While many are food items, there are also other poisonous items in your home such as vitamins, medicine, alcohol and cleaners. Surprisingly, 1/5 of the calls received to the AAHA’s poison hotline was not about their pet getting a food they shouldn't have, but rather their pet getting into their over-the-counter medications.
Every year, the AAHA reviews calls to their Poison Hotline the previous year and categorizes them. They are:
Top 10 poisonous things for dogs
- Over-the-counter medications: 19.7%
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications were the most common group of toxicants pets ingested. The most common dogs get into are: Acetaminophen like Tylenol and Vitamin D. They include vitamins, pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen, herbal supplements, antihistamines and cold and flu medications.
- Human prescriptions: 17.2%
Medications prescribed for people is a dangerous combination for our fur-babies. We may take something and leave it at our bedside, or on the counter. Pay careful attention to where you keep your medications. Remember to keep all medications out of reach of pets.
- Food: 12.1%
We have separated specific dangerous food in this list. This is just the all-encompassing category of food which includes the most common foods our dogs might get into is: Xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic.
- Chocolate: 10.7%
Chocolate gets its own category for the AAHA. This is because chocolate tastes good, even to dogs. If they get access to it, they will most likely eat as much as they can. Also, chocolate is popular around every holiday and often left out for our dogs to devour when we are not looking. The AAHA said they have almost 60 calls a day related to chocolate toxicity.
- Veterinary products: 9.3%
Same as human medications, these medicines are for our pets. But they have a certain amount they should be taken. Your dog probably knows the flea and tick medicine is for them, so why not eat the whole package if it's left out? This could be very dangerous. Remember to put your dog's medications away just as you would your own.
- Household items: 7.7%
This is a wide variety of items from laundry soap pods to paint and items leftover from home improvement projects. Remember if your dog sees you with these items, they are naturally curious and want to try it out. Be sure to keep them away from you while you are working on your project, and put things away when you are finished.
- Rodenticide: 6.8%
The goal of mouse traps and the poison for these critters is to look and taste good, but actually be poisonous. This is why dogs see no problem getting into it. Even small amounts of rodenticide is concerning to your dog. Seek help immediately if you suspect they got into rodenticide.
- Plants: 6.1%
No surprise, but a variety of plants toxic to dogs (and cats). Most are familiar with the more common plant threats: azaleas, holly, poinsettias and tulips to name a few. Surprisingly, the Sago Palm is climbing in the deadly chart. Sago Palms are usually found in outdoor landscaping, but there are a few smaller ones for indoors. Over the last 10 years, the ASPCA reported more than 1,400 dogs poisoned by Sago Palms. Thirty-four of those dogs died. In the state of South Carolina, Sago Palms are the #1 reason to call the ASPCA Poison Hotline.
- Insecticide: 5.1%
Obviously dangerous, these poisons are found in garages, homes, farms and other places your dog may frequent.
- Garden products: 2.4%
The most common point of contention is fertilizer, herbicides and soil enhancements.
Top 10 poisonous Foods for dogs
On the overall list of most poisonous things, the list of foods is what we worry about most. Most of us know about Chocolate. We have never moved faster than when chocolate drops on the ground and the dog goes for it. Because so many calls are about Chocolate, it is it's own category to the Animal Poison Hotline. All other foods are smaller in percentages and in total. If you combine the chocolate calls (10.7%) and the food calls (12.1%), you get 22.8% of all calls made to the Animal Poison Hotline. Here are the top offenders of food poisoning in our pets:
- Chocolate (10.7%)
- Grapes and Raisins
- Onions and Garlic
- Protein Bars
- Avocado (skin, pit)
- Alcohol, Coffee and Tea
- Peaches, Plumbs and Apples
- Raw Food
- Yeast Dough
Bottom line: keep these things out of reach of your fur-baby!
Why are these foods Poisonous for Dogs?
Chocolate is still a big deal in the poisonous food chart for dogs. One thing to remember: the darker the chocolate, the bigger the problem. It also depends on the quantity and quality of the chocolate. If your dog eats a stray M&M or two that fell on the floor, they will most likely be just fine. But if they got into a dark chocolate bar or cocoa powder, they may be in trouble. Read more about chocolate toxicity here.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in gum, candy, toothpaste and some diet foods. Early symptoms of exposure will include vomiting and lethargy issues. Your dog may even have seizures. This exposure often comes with holidays. Think of the Gingerbread House left decorated on the table, or the package of gum left out in the Easter egg hunt. Be especially cognizant with these things to keep them away from your dog.
Grapes and raisins are known to cause vomiting in many dogs. The problem with raisins is they are dehydrated grapes and will expand in your dog’s stomach. This can cause serious problems where they cannot pass them if they’ve had too many, causing serious intestinal issues.
Onions and garlic in any form: powdered, raw, cooked or dehydrated, can adversely affect your dog. These things kill red blood cells in your dog, and can lead to anemia.
Protein Bars. A surprise to the list this year means the increase of these being in more homes than ever before. What makes them dangerous is the combination of several things harmful to your dog. This includes chocolate, Xylitol used in the artificial sweetener of the protein bar, and even raisins found in a different variety. If they get into a box and devour the whole thing, you need to contact your veterinarian to discuss the situation.
Avocados have persin in them, which is fine for most people, although some people are highly allergic to it. Dogs are similar: they may or may not be allergic to persin. Persin is primarily in the skin and seed of the avocado. Another drawback to avocados is the large seed. If your dog gets it in their mouths, it can become stuck in their throat, intestines or stomach, which could be fatal.
Coffee and Teas are on the list because of the caffeine. Alcohol is because of obvious reasons, it will affect your dog the same way it will affect a human. If you expect your dog got into coffee grinds or drank alcohol, they need immediate assistance as it is highly toxic for most dogs.
Peaches, Plums and Apples. The surprise here is from the pits of these fruits. Peach and plum pits have cyanide, which is poisonous to both people and dogs. People know they shouldn’t eat the pits and seeds here, but our dogs do not.
Raw things: meat, fish, eggs. The problem with most raw things is there are bacteria which can cause food poisoning in most dogs. Signs of raw food poisoning include vomiting and high temperatures. Always cook food before giving it to your dog.
Yeast Dough. Similar to raisins, yeast will expand as it rises in your dog’s stomach. As it swells inside, it could cause a lot of pain. When yeast ferments to make the dough rise, it makes alcohol, which can lead to alcohol poisoning.
4 Tips to Prevent Dog Poisoning
Most of us know to prevent bad things from happening, a little planning needs to happen first. It's a fundamental blocking and tackling type of a theory. Here's some tips you can use to prevent your dog from getting accidentally poisoned.
- Keep any or all these items in higher cabinets so they your pets do not get them. This means getting into habits of always putting these things away when you get them out. Often pets get into things because someone forgot to put them in their proper place and left them out.
- Educate your family or anyone who cares for your pet about what is poisonous for your dog. The more they know, the better they will be about keeping hazardous things out of reach from your pet.
- Teach your dog the "Leave it" command to prevent accidents from happening. Your dog should know when you say "Leave it" they are to leave the harmful thing alone. Their reward is they will get a treat they will love and is much better for them! The problem some have teaching this command, is it is used for anything. If you have dropped their treat and you didn't want them to have it just yet, use a different term like "Wait." The "Leave it!" command should mean your dog will NEVER eat it, not that they get to eat it later. Similarly, your dog should also know to "Drop it" when they have something in their mouths they should not have. These commands just might save your dog's life.
- Be prepared for a Pet Emergency. Recently, we wrote about how to be prepared for a pet emergency. If you haven’t read it, take the time to go through it. Part of preventing poisonings is being ready if something should happen. This post also includes a FREE downloadable Pet Emergency Info Sheet you can fill out and have handy in case something should happen.
When to Call for Help
Most people think the first thing you should do is make your dog vomit. This is NOT TRUE! If you are concerned, the first thing you should do is contact your veterinarian. Time is always of the essence when it comes to food and toxic poisonings of pets. Another resource to keep in mind is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) hotline.
They will answer any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435.
Please note: they do charge for this service.
Now that you know everything there is to know, don't forget to download your free Top Foods Poisonous for Dogs Chart. We are pleased to help educate those on the Foods Your Dog Can't Eat Chart and answering many of your questions on the Most Toxic Food for Dogs.
Click to Get Your FREE Dowloadable "Top Food Dogs can't eat" CHART Now!