Despite your best efforts, accidents happen even to the best dog owners. Your pet may gain access to a potentially harmful or fatal substance. Many toxins are common items in your home and yard. Some poisons are obvious and easy to avoid, while others are not so easily identifiable, so it’s important that you educate yourself and keep these poisons out of reach of your pet.

Here are some helpful tips about how to poison-proof your home and what to do if your pet ingests a harmful substance.

To help raise awareness, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) released its list of the top 10 animal toxins after reviewing roughly 232,000 cases of potential animal poisoning.

  • Over-the-counter medications ranked No. 1 in pet toxins, accounting for nearly 20% of calls to the APCC. Common medications in this category are drugs used to combat headaches, fevers and colds, which include ibuprofen, naproxen, cold medications, certain herbal supplements and certain essential oils.

Human prescription medications accounted for 17.5% of all APCC cases. The most common were ADHD medications, antidepressants and heart medications.

Food items such as grapes, raisins, onions, garlic and items containing xylitol (an artificial sweetener commonly found in a variety of foods, candies, drugs and even toothpaste) can be extremely dangerous for dogs. Possible consequences include low blood glucose, liver failure, seizures, brain damage and death.

  • Chocolate accounted for 10.1% of APCC cases. The darker the chocolate, the more potent the potential effects are.
  • Veterinary medications accounted for 9.3% of cases. Many pet medications are flavored

to increase palatability, making them taste good. Some pets may mistake these pet medications for dog treats. Remember that a childproof container does not mean pet-proof.

  • Household items accounted for 7.3% of cases, including ingestion of antifreeze, paint and cleaning products.
  • Rodenticide exposure accounted for 6.3% of APCC cases. There are two major categories: anti-coagulants and those causing brain effects.
  • Insecticide exposure accounted for 6.2% of cases.
  • Plants accounted for 5.5% of cases, including indoor and outdoor plants.
  • Garden products round out the list, accounting for 2.3% of APCC cases. Many pets find fertilizer irresistible.
  • Symptoms of toxicity

    With some poisons, there may be a reaction within minutes of ingestion. With other poisons, such as certain rat poisons, it may take several days before you notice any symptoms. Toxicity symptoms include vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy or weakness, pale or yellowish gums, excessive thirst or urination, nervousness, hyperactivity, muscle tremors or coma

    Pet-proofing home

    Pets are like young children — they can’t resist investigating and putting things in their mouths. That’s why poison-proofing your home is so important. Here are some important steps from the Pet Poison Helpline that can make your home safer for pets:

    Make sure your houseplants are nontoxic. Check out lists of poisonous plants on the ASPCA guide of toxic plants before bringing them home.

    • Store medications in a secure area out of reach of pets.
    • Secure garbage cans behind closed doors.
    • Keep ashtrays, cigarettes and smoking cessation products out of reach.
    • Put your purse in an area where pets cannot access it.
    • Keep pets out of the

    room when using toilet cleaners or other cleaning products.

    • If you use an auto

    matic toilet bowl cleaner, always close the toilet lid.

    • Keep rodenticides (rat poison) out of reach.
    • Keep glue out of reach. Some glues, such as Gorilla Glue, expand greatly once in

    gested and require surgical removal. Just one ounce of glue may expand to the size of a basketball.

    • Read all labels and instructions before using or applying.

    If you think that your pet may have ingested any of these poisons or any other questionable substances, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 immediately (incident fee applies). It will be very helpful if you can identify the substance and bring the package, label or a picture of it with you.

    Dr. Jerry Klein is the chief veterinary officer at the American Kennel Club.