Many people have been in the scary boat of thinking their pet has ingested something poisonous. A rodenticide, a cleaning product, prescription drugs, a plant — you name it.
You panic. You call your vet. They’re closed, or the veterinarian is not available. You call the emergency vet, and the receptionist tells you to come in immediately because she doesn’t know if what your pet has ingested is toxic or not, and the doctor is busy.
So what do you do?
Call Animal Poison Control
Here are handy numbers — and their accompanying info — to keep around in case the worst occurs:
365 days a year, 24/7
365 days a year, 24/7
Whether you think those fees are expensive or a great bargain, the charge is worth it, and you get a lot for your money. The biggest thing you get for your $65 is priceless: peace of mind.
You will know quickly if you need to get to your vet, get to the after-hours emergency vet or relax.
Realize that even if you get through to your veterinarian, your case may be complicated, and she may choose to call the pet poison hotline. The same charge applies to your veterinarian as well as to you.
Keep This Information on Hand
If you make these calls, try to have the following information available to the best of your ability:
- Your dog or cat’s weight. It does not have to be exact but should be close.
- The substance ingested. Have the product in front of you, if possible. If this is a recipe or food product and you’re concerned about the ingredients — such as chocolate — poison control can help you figure out the amount of potentially toxic substance in the tray of brownies or frozen dessert.
- The amount ingested. Although this is often impossible to know for sure, try to figure out the maximum exposure your pet might have had. For example, count the remaining pills in a vial if the animal ingested a medication, calculate the number of ounces consumed of a food or the amount of a rodenticide or other toxic product (cleaning product, anti-freeze, etc.).
- Time elapsed between ingestion or exposure to the product and your discovery of the situation.
What Happens When You Call
When you call these hotlines, you will speak directly to a veterinarian and give her the details of your case. You will then be given a case number.
Your one-time charge will allow you and/or your veterinarian to consult with the poison hotline veterinarian and internal medicine specialists regarding your pet’s poisoning incident until it is resolved.
Here’s a little more information on the Pet Poison Helpline:
Avoid Finding “Answers” on the Internet
Although it is true that you may be able to find answers on your own, don’t waste too much time playing Doctor Google or calling the 800 number of the product your pet got into and being put on hold forever.
Time is of the essence if your pet has ingested something truly worrisome. Immediate veterinary intervention in the case of a serious animal poisoning can literally mean the difference between life and death.
So get guidance from your own veterinary office if it is open, or get right on that phone and call one of the highly reputable pet poison hotlines if you are worried. This service is worth it.
This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed July 12, 2017.