I don't know how we raised pets when we were kids, because no one ever told us all the stuff that I currently know, yet my family had a healthy cat and a healthy dog, both of which 'made old bones'. But the ASPCA says that incidents of pets ingesting household and backyard poisons is increasing. Perhaps there are more products around that are made with poisonous ingredients; or maybe busy families forget to supervise dogs and/or leave cabinets open. At any rate I read the amazing statistic that incidences of poisoning with polyurethane glue have risen 740% since 2002 (see Petsitusa link)!!
Autumn brings particular dangers like lawn treatments and antifreeze. Fertilizers continue to be a danger in the fall for those who plant bulbs. Cleaning products are always a hazard. Many plants are toxic to dogs and cats, so as you bring plants inside for the winter, check with the Poison Control Center (phone number below). All toxic products should be keep in sealed plastic containers, like the ones you can buy at Walmart for not much money. Drop your bag of bulb fertilizer in a plastic container and make sure the top is firmly set. Same with plastic bottles containing fluids like cleaners and antifreeze. If you winterize your car yourself, make sure to clean up any spills promptly and keep the dog out of your work area! A tip I recently learned: antifreeze containing propylene glycol is less toxic than antifreeze made with ethylene glycol. But both will make your pup or kitty ill!
If you think your pet has ingested a dangerous substance, contact your vet on an emergency basis or immediately call the ASPCA Animal Poison control Center at 1-888-426-4435.