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Pet Poison Control: Timing is Crucial

Have the poison on hand when you call a pet poison control center

Pet Poison Prevention Week is March 19 to 25, 2017. 

Although they say that curiosity kills the cat, it’s just as likely that a curious dog can ingest or be exposed to something poisonous. Just like children, pets can get into things that aren’t for them even if you turn your back for just a few seconds. If you suspect your dog or cat has been poisoned, there are two options – contacting a pet poison control center or taking your pet directly to a local veterinarian for treatment.

Call Pet Poison Control or Go to Veterinarian?

There are pros and cons to each choice. Good help lines are generally staffed 24/7 by various veterinary experts who have had special training in the various types of animal poisoning. Your veterinarian, however, will be more familiar with your pet and will be able to administer proper emergency care if warranted. In most cases, if you first contact (whether online or by phone) a poison control center, they will immediately tell you if you can help your cat or dog at home or if you should bypass home treatment and go directly to a pet emergency care clinic or veterinarian’s office.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned but he or she isn’t yet demonstrated any signs of toxicity, a call to a pet poison control center is a good place to start. If your pet is already showing signs of toxicity, however, you should go directly to a 24/7 pet hospital or to your veterinarian’s office.

Signs of Pet Toxicity Include:

  • Uncontrolled shaking, shuddering or trembling
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Vomiting, especially if it looks like coffee grounds or blood
  • Excessive coughing or gagging
  • Bloody bowel movements
  • Excessive drooling
  • Disorientation, confusion or a “drunken walk”
  • Lethargy or weakness

If your pet exhibits any of the above signs, take them to the nearest veterinary care location immediately!

 Common Pet Poisons That Dogs and Cats Seem to Love

Who can tell why animals eat or drink things that are bad for them? Certainly not people – there are thousands of cases of cherished pets being accidentally poisoned every year. Some of the most common poisoning agents are ones that most pet owners have in their houses. Being vigilant and always keeping these items out of your pet’s reach can dramatically cut the risk of accidental poisoning.

The Top Ten Pet Poisons List

11809539 - crassula flower or jade plant in a red pot

Call poison control if your dog or cat has ingested the popular jade plant.

  • Chocolate
  • Onions or garlic
  • Rat or mouse poison
  • Insecticides
  • Medications, including Tylenol, Aleve, Advil, Vitamins and prescription drugs
  • Cleansers & laundry detergents
  • Anti-freeze
  • Glow sticks
  • Toxic household plants
  • Xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many prepared foods such as peanut butter
    • This is by no means a complete list, so don’t rule out poisoning if your dog or cat eats something unfamiliar.

Be Prepared When Calling Pet Poison Control

You can’t afford to panic when you suspect your pet has been poisoned. Every second counts, but you could waste precious time if you call before gathering relevant information. If you suspect your dog or cat has swallowed medication, check to see what the medicine was, the dosage, and how many they might have swallowed. If they have ingested an insecticide or rodent poison, have someone else in the household call the manufacturer to get detailed ingredient information. All of this information can help the poison control center aid your pet more quickly.

Don’t give your pet homemade remedies such as salt water, milk or OTC remedies meant for humans.  Don’t try to induce vomiting, as some poisons are caustic and could cause more damage on the way back up. Wait to receive instructions from the pet poison control center or your veterinarian.

 Play It Safe! Don’t Ignore Signs of Possible Poisoning!

Even if it’s a false alarm, it is best to have your pet checked whenever he or she is showing signs of distress. What may look like poisoning to you could be an indicator of serious illness or nothing at all. It’s better to err on the side of caution with your pet’s health.


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