Top Toxins

One of the most common emergency calls we receive is owners worried that their pet may have eaten something toxic. Prevention is the best way to keep your pet safe from toxins! Here are the most common toxins that Pet Poison Helpline received calls about in 2022:

1) Chocolate

Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine as well as caffeine, both of which can cause toxicity in dogs and cats. Darker chocolate contains higher quantities of these compounds, while milk choco

late contains lower quantities and white chocolate contains almost none. Signs of chocolate toxicity include vomiting and diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures, and death. 

2) Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs, cats, and ferrets. The toxic components are variable depending on the season that the fruit was grown, so there is not a specific toxic dose of grapes or raisins. 

3) Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in many foods, supplements, and candies (especially gum). Xylitol causes low blood sugar and liver failure in dogs. Xylitol is not toxic to cats.

4) Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) used for humans. If dogs and cats consume it, it can cause stomach ulcers, kidney failure, or seizures. These symptoms can occur with a single exposure to a high dose of ibuprofen or with long-term, low-dose exposure. Never use this medication to treat pain in your pets!

5) Bromethalin

This is a neurotoxin found in rat and mouse baits. These baits are usually tasty to attract rodents, but unfortunately they are yummy to pets as well. Symptoms of toxicity include wobbliness, muscle tremors, seizures, and acute death. There is no antidote.

6) Marijuana

The large increase in accessibility of marijuana has resulted in a jump in exposure of dogs and cats to this toxin. Symptoms include dilated pupils, dribbling of urine, and hypothermia. Most pets respond well to supportive care (i.e. fluids, heat support).

7) Anticoagulant Rodenticides

Many mouse and rat poisons contain chemicals that prevent blood from clotting. These effects can take days to become obvious, so pets that get sick from anticoagulant rodenticides won’t always show symptoms of having ingested the toxin right away. The best treatment is to induce vomiting as soon as possible after ingestion, followed by medications to allow blood to clot normally until the body is able to do so on its own again.

8) Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is found in some rat and mouse poisons, in human supplements, and in some medications (i.e. psoriasis creams). Vitamin D3 affects the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Pets who ingest toxic amounts of vitamin D3 can experience GI upset, kidney failure, abnormal heart rates or rhythms, or difficulty breathing. Treatment involves supportive care such as IV fluids, anti-nausea medications, and medications to control calcium and phosphorus levels in the body.

9) Onions/chives/leeks/shallots

These plants are all part of the Allium family. Humans tolerate these plants well, but dogs and cats can develop a low red blood cell count (anemia) if these plants are ingested. Low-level chronic exposure (i.e. if you feed your dog a little garlic every day) or high-level acute exposure can both lead to toxicity. 

10) Carprofen

Carprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used as a pain medication for dogs. Many formulas of carprofen are flavored into chew tabs, which can make them very tempting for pets. Overdose of carprofen can cause stomach ulcers, kidney failure, and/or liver failure. Be sure to store this (and any flavored medication) far out of your pet’s reach!

Support Small Business: Shop Local by Dr. Jennifer Blair

We wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to support small businesses by shopping at St Francis Animal Hospital for all of your pets’ health care needs.

Did you know? Veterinary practices are being purchased by large corporate entities at a surprising pace. St Francis Animal Hospital is proud to still be a locally owned neighborhood practice. We love being part of your community and part of your families, and we are passionate about providing individualized care for each of your pets. When you shop local, you help to keep locally-owned businesses like ours in our neighborhood.

Many pet owners assume that it is less expensive to purchase their pets’ medications through large companies like Chewy, PetMeds, or Costco. However, it is often considerably less expensive to buy your pets’ medications at St Francis. We work directly with the manufacturers to bring you the best pricing and instant rebates. For example, when you purchase 12 Heartgard Plus and 12 Nexgard, you’ll receive a $60 Instant Rebate or when you purchase 6 Heartgard Plus and 6 Nexgard or Frontline Gold, you’ll receive a $20 Rebate. Many other rebate offers exist to allow us to tailor your savings to your pets’ needs.

Even without rebates, many of our medications are less expensive at St Francis than they would be at these other companies. With so many counterfeit, mislabeled, or expired products being distributed online and in pet stores, our goal is to be able to provide you with reputable products at an affordable price. Surprisingly, even some human medications used for pets are more affordable at your local veterinary practice than at human pharmacies. To further reduce your costs, ask us about generic options or 90-day supplies of your pets’ medications.

Shopping locally is beneficial to everyone. Your support allows us to invest in our employees, providing them with educational opportunities and improved wages and benefits. It allows us to expand our team and to invest in new equipment and services to provide the best care for you and your loved ones. St Francis also gives back to the community, supporting local students, school fundraisers, pet rescues and other non-profit organizations. Supporting local small business is truly a win-win for everyone.

If you have any questions or would like to order your pets’ food or medications, please reach out to us at (651) 645-2808,, or via PetDesk.

Thank you so much for partnering with us to provide the best care for your pets. We are so honored to be in this community and to have been a part of your families for 30 years!

Employee Spotlight: Sarah Overman

Sarah is one of our veterinary assistants. She has been an intern at several zoos, has had a lot of experience working with exotic animals of all kinds, and has also been a pet groomer. When she isn’t spending time with animals, she loves spending time with her family which includes her husband and her 7 year old twins.

What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine?

My favorite part of vet med is helping the pets and their parents! 

What do you think is special about St. Francis? Why do you love working here?

What makes St. Francis so special are all the people that work here! The way everyone works together as a team and support each is why I truly love working here.