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When to Call Animal Poison Control

Recognizing a Poison Emergency

By Lauren Leonardi. November 21, 2013 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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Sick Dog Laying On The Floor

Dogs and cats have a tendency to get into any and everything. Although their curiosity is apart of their nature, it could also be potentially fatal. Learn the signs, symptoms, and what to do if your pet has ingested something toxic.

If ever you’re concerned that your pet has eaten or otherwise ingested some toxin, do not hesitate to get on the phone to call animal poison control.

The ASPCA has a national poison control hotline. Their number is (888) 426-4435.

You may also have a local poison control organization in your area. Before an emergency strikes, know their number and keep it somewhere handy, like in your phone, or somewhere accessible, so that if the need should arise, you can get to it quickly.

WHEN NOT TO CALL POISON CONTROL

In some cases, a pet may already be exhibiting signs of toxicity, in which case, get them to the nearest vet. These signs may include:

  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Shaking/trembling
  • Vomiting, especially vomiting blood
  • Coughing, or coughing blood
  • Bloody diarrhea accompanied by any of these other symptoms
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weakness, lethargy, collapse, disorientation

If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, get off the internet, and go to an animal hospital.

You may have seen your pet ingest a toxin, or they might have done so when you weren’t looking. Remember: Just because you didn’t see it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

WHEN TO CALL ANIMAL POISON CONTROL

In cases of uncertainty, when you believe your pet has ingested something toxic, but they’re still behaving normally, call animal poison control. They’ll help you to determine the best course of action.

Again, the ASPCA’s national poison control number is (888) 426-4435.

THE MOST COMMON POISONS CATS AND DOGS INGEST

Cats and dogs are clever creatures, and their creativity is never more acute than when they’re attempting to eat something they probably should not be eating. The most common toxins cats and dogs ingest include:

  • Chocolate (dogs usually find it more appealing than cats do)
  • Rodenticides (mouse and rat poisons)
  • Human medications including vitamins, antidepressants, tylenol, aleve, advil, etc.
  • Household cleaners
  • Their own pest spot-on ointment
  • Any of these toxic plants
  • Glow sticks

GATHER ALL INFORMATION POSSIBLE

Gather all the information you can on whatever it is you believe your pet may have ingested. Presenting Animal Poison Control with as much information as possible will help them guide you.

For example, if your pet has swallowed human pills, know the name of the medication, the dosage, and how many pills they may have eaten. If your pet got into rat poison, have someone in your home call the exterminator on another line to find out the name of the poison and any other relevant information. The information you’re able to provide may make all the difference.

Do not give your pet home remedies like milk, salt, or over the counter medication. Wait for poison control to advise you.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU CALL ANIMAL POISON CONTROL

Once you’ve reached Poison Control, the operator will ask you about your pet. They may ask for their name, breed, weight, and age. They’ll then ask you for the information you’ve gathered: What do you know/suspect your pet ingested? How much did they ingest? How long ago? Be prepared to answer these questions calmly and truthfully.

Some pet poison control hotlines require a fee of around $30-$60. The operator may take your question, and begin to research the answer. Before sharing the answer, they’ll ask for your credit card information. After you’ve paid the fee, the answer may be anything from “get to an emergency clinic immediately,” to, “no worries, that substance in that quantity isn’t toxic.”

Do your best not to be frustrated by the fee, or by the time it takes to get your pet care. Most hotlines rely on these fees to operate.

DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS

Dramatic symptoms may indeed be a sign that your pet has ingested something toxic. These symptoms could also indicate a more persistent trauma or illness. Vomiting blood and bloody stool, for example, may point to ailments like parasites, cancers, kidney disease, or heartworm.

PREVENT THE NEED TO CALL ANIMAL POISON CONTROL

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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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