Toxin Trends

Pet Poison Helpline created Toxin Trends to educate pet parents and veterinary professionals on the variety of toxins that are near their communities! The tool allows you to drill down and see which specific cities the calls originated from and which months of the year had the highest call volumes. You will also find lists of common clinical signs for each exposure and frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Interpret The Clinical Signs

What happens when someone calls PPH after their animal has ingested a plant?
  • The veterinary professionals at PPH will take a detailed history from the caller to determine important medical information about the patient such as the species, breed, age, weight, health history, current medications, etc. They will obtain the name of the plant and/or request photos to aid in identification or recommend the caller have the plant identified by an expert. Next, PPH will advise the caller on what the risk to the pet is based on how much was ingested, the type of plant, etc. If the pet requires veterinary care, PPH veterinarians will speak with the treating veterinarian and provide them with guidance on how to treat that pet.
Where did these clinical signs come from?
  • The clinical signs displayed are reported ‘as is’ from the pet owner or veterinary professional who contacted PPH. We understand that pet owners are often not medically trained to identify clinical signs, but we do our best to interpret and code what they are describing. Additionally, it’s possible that the clinical signs reported were not ultimately caused by the plant the pet was exposed to. Therefore, these data provide general trends only.
Some of these plants are very toxic. Why are the clinical signs so mild?
  • Plants such as oleander, sago palms, and lilies (Lilium species) are highly toxic for dogs and/or cats, yet the most common clinical signs displayed may be less serious signs such as vomiting, lethargy, or diarrhea. Why? Many of the exposures we’re called about happened within the past few minutes to hours, so it’s possible that not enough time had passed for the development of severe signs. Also, early and effective treatment often prevents severe poisoning, which means the animal may only suffer mild signs, if any. However, if treatment is delayed or pet owners did not realize that the ingestion occurred until many hours or days later, the prognosis is much worse, and the animal is likely to be very ill. For information about the toxicity of each plant, click on the plant’s photo in the list.
PPH’s website says some of these plants are non-toxic or only mildly toxic. Why are they included in this list?
  • This list reflects the 30 plants that PPH is most often called about, regardless of toxicity. For information about the toxicity of each plant, click on the plant’s photo in the list. Also, it’s helpful to remember that dogs or cats can develop vomiting or other gastrointestinal upset after eating any plant, regardless of its toxicity. If serious signs are listed but the plant is only mildly toxic, it may be that the signs ultimately were not caused by that particular plant.
Vomiting is listed for many of these plants. Why?
  • Dogs or cats can develop vomiting or other gastrointestinal upset after eating any plant, regardless of its toxicity. Therefore, vomiting is not always a sign of poisoning or an indication that more severe signs will develop. A common example of this is with cats or dogs that vomit after eating grass. Regardless of a plant’s toxicity, if an animal vomits multiple times, veterinary treatment may be needed to prevent dehydration, ensure the plant material is not obstructing the stomach or intestine, and to rule-out other causes of illness unrelated to the plant exposure.
  • If PPH recommended that vomiting be induced in a pet after ingesting a plant, we would not code this as a clinical sign.
Are the clinical signs displayed for an individual species or for all species?
  • The clinical signs listed for each plant represent collective signs from all the species or animal types displayed above the map because most toxic plants on this list cause similar signs across species. For information about the toxicity of each plant, including any species-specific risks, click on the plant’s photo in the list.
Could the animals in these cases have been exposed to more than one type of plant or toxin?
  • The clinical signs displayed represent all potential toxins the caller reported although most cases displayed here only involve one plant. For example, if a pet owner said their dog ingested both tulips and azaleas and then developed vomiting and diarrhea, both clinical signs would be coded under each plant. Additionally, it’s also possible the pet could have ingested a plant and another toxin such as chocolate. In that situation, all clinical signs would again be coded under both toxins.
How can I learn more about the toxicity of these plants?
  • For information about the toxicity of each plant, click on the plant’s photo in the list. For information about plants that are not in our top 30, see our Poison List.
Exposures and clinical signs are reported ‘as is’ and may not have been medically confirmed. Do not rely on these data to make medical decisions or assumptions about the risk of harm. The signs displayed are not necessarily attributable to the plant as cases may involve other toxins or unrelated illness. If an animal was exposed to one of these toxins, contact Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian immediately.