Poisons & Your Pets

Did you know the ASPCA has a poison control hotline for pet owners? In my 3rd year of veterinary school, as part of a toxicology course, I was required to shadow at the Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Illinois. I found it to be very interesting and up until my experience there had no knowledge of the poison control center and the services they offer to pet owners. They have a hotline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Calls do require a $65 fee, but if your pet is microchipped there are certain microchip companies that will pay for calls to the hotline.

The poison control center is equipped with trained professionals that are standing by to answer your calls. What I found most interesting was the technology they utilize – computer programs that will allow them to enter a pet, its weight, along with the possible poison ingested and the amount, allowing calculation of how high a risk the pet is for toxicity for that particular ingestion. From there they can instruct you how to proceed which involves anything from just monitoring your pet for clinical signs of illness to inducing emesis (vomiting) to remove a recently ingested poison, to advising contact with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

In 2013, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Illinois, handled nearly 180,000 cases exposed to possibly poisonous substances. Topping the list for the sixth year in a row were prescription human medications. Nearly 20% of all calls were from owners whose pets got into medicines intended for human use. You can visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control website (www.aspca.org) for the top ten list of toxins of 2013.

Some common household toxins to be aware of if you have pets include chocolate, coffee, alcohol, avocado, macadamia nuts, grapes/raisins, yeast dough, raw/undercooked meat, eggs, bones, xylitol (which is discussed in more detail in a previous blog by Dr. Johnson), onions, garlic, chives, milk, and salt. Visit the website for additional information on these toxins as well as plants that can be dangerous to your pet.

It’s a relief to know that if you are unsure if a substance your pet ingested is toxic you can always get a hold of someone for advice, and it is a lot more reliable than Dr. Google! The number for the poison control hotline is (888) 426-4435.

By: Dr. Joachim
Pine Bluff Animal Hospital