The Most Common & Serious Poisons Of Dogs

In 2020, the American Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) published its data on poisonings in dogs. It’s the best information we have on household dangers to our canine friends.

From a dog-owner’s perspective, it contains two important lists: the top 5 reported poisonings and the top 20 fatalities. As you’ll see, these are quite different.

The Top 5 Poisons Of Dogs

  1. Chocolate
  2. Ibuprofen (Nurofen®, Advil® etc)
  3. Sucrose-containing foods
  4. Nitrogen-based fertilizers
  5. Acetaminophen (paracetamol)

These are good to know, and easy to prevent. Though it’s hard to see the problem with sucrose.

The Top 20 Most Fatal Dog Poisons

The APCC have also listed their known fatalities in order of the percent of reported dogs that died. I’ve linked each poison to its relevant Wikipedia page if you want to read more. See my comments afterwards.

Poison% FatalWhat is it?
Fluorouracil65Cytotoxic skin cream
Thioctic acid64Antioxidant dietary supplement
Phenylbutazone*56Anti-inflammatory drug
Ethylene dichloride54Solvent, reagent
Amlodipine*43Blood pressure medication
Blue-green algae43Pond microbes
Hydroxyurea42Cytotoxic human drug
Didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride41Quaternary ammonium disinfectant
Hydrogen peroxide40Bleach, disinfectant
Stoddard solvent40Mineral turpentine
Mirtazapine*40Human antidepressant
Ethylene glycol39Engine coolant antifreeze
Calcitriol38Vitamin D supplement
Green tea extract38Weight loss product
Methomyl38Carbamate insecticide
Lamotrigine37Anticonvulsant, antidepressant
Bromethalin37Rat poison (not Australia)
Caffeine34Life-giving drug for humans
Aldicarb33Carbamate insecticide
Colchicine 33Multi-use human drug
In Australia, this list would also include snail bait

Key Findings

This list helps us understand which toxins are of greatest importance. You can see that one category stands out: medications

Nine are common human treatments, whether prescribed or not. Dogs gain access when they are left around carelessly or dropped in their presence. The ones marked with an asterisk (*) are also used in dogs.

The rest are all caused by access to common household poisons. With the exception of just two:

  • blue-green algae come from stagnant water sources
  • phenylbutazone is an outdated anti-inflammatory used mostly in horses

If this new evidence tells us anything, it’s that most poisonings occur by accident, not design. And that dogs will have a go at things you’d never expect them to eat.

I’ve certainly learnt a lot. Mainly to be a lot more careful about what I leave out.

Related: Poisonings In Adelaide Pets | Vitamin D

Swirski, A. L., Pearl, D. L., Berke, O., & O’Sullivan, T. L. (2020). Companion animal exposures to potentially poisonous substances reported to a national poison control center in the United States in 2005 through 2014. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association257(5), 517-530

By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These blogs are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!
Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours.

Andrew

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