In theory, I could make this post the shortest one yet by simply telling you to call your veterinarian, but what then? To be honest, some toxin ingestion cases are better handled by the professionals. What does that mean you ask? Well in cases of “typical” toxin ingestion, chocolate for instance, your veterinarian will likely be able to not only tell you whether to be concerned (dependent on the amount and type of chocolate ingestion) but also how to manage your pet. So how about those “non-typical” ingestion cases? These are cases where your pet may have ingested one of your prescription medications, a household cleaner, or maybe even an insecticide. Likely, when you call us with a more complex case, our recommendation will be to call the poison control center for pets.
The ASPCA poison control center is where the true toxin professionals lie. The reason we recommend calling the ASPCA is simple. The staff receiving those phone calls have training specialized in toxins and poisons, as well as access to information that has been compiled over years and years of research from specialists in pharmacology and toxicology. Chances are if your pet has ingested even the most obscure of edible (or even presumed inedible) items the staff at poison control will be able to advise you how to proceed. If further veterinary care is recommended by the staff at the ASPCA, they will be able to advise your veterinarian how to continue treatment whether that treatment lasts a single night or requires blood work to be repeated months down the road.
When calling your veterinarian or the poison control center, please have the following information accessible:
- The name of the substance ingested
- The strength of the product if known (medication, chemical)
- How much of the product was ingested
- How long ago the toxin was ingested
- The age, breed, and weight of your pet
Above all, do not try to make your pet vomit or give an “antidote” without first contacting your veterinarian or the ASPCA. Certain substances can cause more harm if you make your dog or cat vomit.
Drugs and Chemicals – Rodent poisons, insecticides, antifreeze, recreational drugs, and human pharmaceuticals are potentially the most harmful poisons, as they are often in a very concentrated form. Your pet may only need to have consumed a small amount for it to have a significant effect.
Cats – Cats tend to be more susceptible to poisons than dogs. A cat’s metabolism is less able to process many toxins that are often thought “less dangerous” for dogs (for example aspirin). Be aware the cats can also ingest toxins spilled on their coat while they groom themselves.
Be Honest – We know how pets act after ingesting certain recreational drugs. We can run a slew of tests that will do nothing other than waste your time and money, or you can just tell us the truth. It’s OK, we wont judge. We simply want to help your pet and the sooner we can do that, the better.
Be Prepared – The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center experts recommend having the following on hand in case of toxins:
- Fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide with a syringe (or even a turkey baster) to administer
- Saline eye solution
- Artificial tear ointment
- Dawn dish soap or a similar grease cutting soap
- Pet Carrier
The simplest way to deal with a toxin ingestion is to simply prevent them from occurring. Clean up messes immediately, place all medications in securely closed cabinets out of reach of pets, and use insecticides, etc., in areas not accessible by your pets. Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
We hope you never need to contact the ASPCA Poison Control Center, but if needed, their number is (888) 426-4435. Be advised that you will be asked to pay a $65 fee to speak with a toxicology expert which is a small price to pay to rest assured that you will be receiving advice from the best in the business!