No matter how much our humans learn about the poisons in our domestic environment, we still might get into something we shouldn’t. Humans need to have a plan for what to do in that case.
Humans should study the information in this article, on the Pet Poison Helpline site and on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center website when there is no emergency. If they have at least thought about what to do, they will be less likely to panic in an emergency.
It’s a good idea to have your regular vet’s phone number and the emergency vet number saved in your cell phone and posted in a prominent place in your home. My humans always write the vet’s number on a note for our petsitter too. They can also put a pet poison hotline on speed dial, just to be safe.
The Pet Poison Helpline number is 800-213-6680. They are staffed by veterinarians all the time.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (also staffed by veterinarians) is 888-426-4435.
The Pet Poison Helpline charges $39 per incident for consultation and the ASPCA charges $65.
When To Call The Vet Or Helpline
If humans see evidence that a companion animal has eaten something poisonous or the pet is having symptoms of poisoning, the Pet Poison Helpline says to call the vet or the helpline IMMEDIATELY. (All of the following advice comes straight from their website.)
DON’T try home remedies because many of them don’t work and some can make the situation worse.
DO know as much as possible about the substance, plant or food the pet ingested. The vets on the phone will need answers to lots of questions before they can prescribe a course of action or antidote.
Before you try any treatment, a vet can tell you if what the dog or cat ate was really poisonous and what kind of treatment will help. It’s not always advisable to induce vomiting, so get the expert advice right away!
The Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA do charge a fee, but the experts will help throughout the treatment once the fee is paid. That means your human can call back as many times as necessary, and so can your vet, without having to pay more. My human called them one time and they were really helpful and they really do let you call back as many times as needed.
Symptoms that might indicate a dog or cat has been poisoned
- Acting abnormally
- Vomiting (especially when bloody)
- Diarrhea (especially if it includes blood)
- Coughing blood
- Pale gums
- Racing heart rate
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive thirst or urination
- No urination
- Black stool
These are not all of the possible symptoms, just some of the most common. Bad breath that smells like ammonia can be a symptom of kidney failure. Turning yellow around the eyes or gums can indicate that the liver is failing.
Note the symptoms and describe them carefully to the vet or helpline on the phone.
Poison First Aid Kit
Both the ASPCA and the Pet Poison Helpline recommend that humans who live with dogs and cats keep the following items on hand in case they ever need to follow instructions from a poison helpline or the emergency vet to begin care of a poisoned companion:
- Hydrogen peroxide 3% (check the expiration date regularly!)
- Small measuring spoons and an oral syringe or turkey baster
- Liquid hand dishwashing detergent
- Rubber gloves
- Triple antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin (Pet Poison Helpline says not to use this on cats, but VetInfo says as long as the ointment doesn’t have added ingredients it’s ok)
- Vitamin E oil
- Diphenhydramine, such as 40 Winks or Sominex (25mg tablets) Make sure not to get a combination with other drugs. PubMed Health has a list of the brand names of products with diphenhydramine in them.
- Ophthalmic saline solution
- Artificial tears
- Can of tuna packed in water or other yummy canned noms
- Sweet electrolyte-containing beverage (make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol, but saccharrine, sucralose and aspartame don’t cause problems for dogs or cats, according to the ASPCA )
- Corn syrup
- Vegetable oil
I’m not sure what we would do with all of these products, and I hope I never find out.
Except the tuna. I know what to do with tuna.
Photo by Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.