Protect your pets from poisonsPoison is a strong word but it is kind of a big deal!

This week is National Pet Poison Prevention week and we want you to know that poison can be anything from a toxic chemical to an accidental ingestion of something in a toxic amount. When pets eat things they shouldn’t we often refer their owners to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control hotline.  This hotline is staffed with veterinary professionals who have access to much more reference information that a typical veterinary hospital.  Veterinary toxicologists have databases at their fingertips to help with these crises. Thus, calling the hotline is a much more efficient way to gather the needed information.

What constitutes a pet poison emergency?

If your pet has eaten any eaten any of the following you should seek medical care for him.  You can visit the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control page to find lists of various toxic chemicals, plants and foods.

Chocolate can be a poison to dogs and catsStargazer lilies are a deadly poison to catsSago palms are a lethal poison to dogs

Here are the most common poison ingestions seen at our hospital:

  • Chocolate
  • Plants that are toxic- 2 big ones are sago palms for dogs and lilies for cat
  • Rat poison
  • Human medication or vitamins
  • Illegal drugs
  • A foreign object that could be toxic, like a battery

 Seek help if you think your pet has ingested a poison

The most common question we get from owners when they call to report a suspected ingestion is that their pet “seems fine now, do they really need to worry?”  It may be true that immediately following ingestion of a toxic substance your dog or cat may not seem to be suffering any effects.  What we worry about is what happens once your pet starts to metabolize the toxin.  And with some poisons, time is of the essence.

You might think that the best course of action is just to make your pet vomit the substance and your problems can be solved.  In some cases this is true but definitely not in all cases.  This is truly when your veterinarian and Poison Control come in.  If the substance is a common one like chocolate, one of our doctors can usually make a plan without poison control (depending on the quantity.)  Some lesser known substances require much more information and in some cases follow up treatment.

Can something that is good for you end up poisoning your pet?

Lobo is happy and healthy after help from his doctors and ASPCA Poison Control

The answer is yes.  Review this recent case as a perfect example.  A 14 lb dog gained access to a high dose human vitamin.  On the surface this does not seem like it would be that big of a deal, right?  Perhaps not a big crisis if we were talking about a few pills, but this case involved the dog ingesting around 93 pills.  Needless to say this pup’s parents were extremely concerned and called to ask what to do.  I advised them to call ASPCA Poison Control hotline immediately.  I did not advise them to induce vomiting because I did not know if that would be safe with the vitamin ingested. Depending on the substance ingested, inducing vomiting can sometimes expose the esophagus to a great deal of damage.

The owners did call ASPCA Poison Control.  The experts at Poison Control advised them to induce vomiting AND go to the emergency clinic.  Poison Control also advised that blood work needed to be repeated every 24 hours for 4 days since the pup was still at risk for developing signs.  We are happy to say that everything worked out well and the pup is showing no after effects of his encounter with what might have initially been considered, harmless vitamins.

Important Takeaways

Know that if your veterinarian advises you to call ASPCA Animal Poison Control it is because we want the expert care that this highly qualified group of professionals can provide.  We work with them not instead of them to ensure the best outcome for your pet.  Time is of the essence with some toxins so don’t wait!  Act when you realize that your pet has ingested something it should not have and call us at (210)-695-4455.  The ASPCA Animal Poison Control phone number is (888) 426-4435.