To continue our series of the most common issues you may experience with your pets, we’ll discuss poisonings. This is a BIG topic not only because it is so frequent, rather there are a vast array of things that can poison our pets – not to mention the reactions our pets can have to poisons.
Just as an EMT would take your vitals and gather pertinent information based on the emergency that occurred, you should know how to and what to do in similar situations for your pet. Remember, there are no animal EMT’s so the ambulance isn’t coming to help stabilize Fluffy – you’re going to have to do it.
Your pet can become poisoned by ingesting, absorbing or having something injected into them – did your pet sitter just give your cat too much insulin? Ingesting will be the most common way of a toxin entering their bodies but each toxin may react differently in different pets – was that a chocolate bar your dog just took out of your purse? We will discuss below the most common symptoms and how to handle them. Because there are so many items that can cause a reaction to our pets, its best to familiarize yourself with some of them from lists such as these provided by the ASPCA.
Program the number in your phone right now – stop reading and do it! ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline 1-888-426-4435
Some signs of a potential intoxication include drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea; any neurological signs such as stumbling, twitching or muscle tremors, hyperactivity, depression, seizures or loss of consciousness; bleeding; ulcers of the mouth or lips; or irritated or ulcerated skin.
In case of a suspected or confirmed intoxication, contact either your local vet or the ASPCA hotline for guidance. For uncommon toxins, your veterinarian may request that you contact Animal Poison Control for additional information – the veterinarians on call at the ASPCA have access to a huge database of pet poisoning information – not all of which is published and available to your veterinarian.
When you contact Poison Control or your veterinarian, the more information you have on hand, the better the veterinarians and toxicologists will be able to help you. Knowing what your pet was exposed to (or a list of things he may have been exposed to), how much he was exposed to (e.g., the maximum number of pills he could have eaten), how long it has been since the possible or known exposure, how much he weighs , and any abnormal signs.
Inducing vomiting can help in some circumstances but consult with a vet or the ASPCA hotline first as the toxin maybe just as damaging if brought back up as it was when it went down.
When advisable to induce vomiting do so as soon as possible to limit absorption of the toxin. Generally, your veterinarian will have medications available that are more effective and consistent at inducing vomiting in dogs and cats, so transporting your pet to the nearest veterinary hospital is best following a known ingestion. If you’re more than 10 to 15 minutes away from the nearest veterinary facility, your veterinarian may advise you to induce vomiting at home. Only do this on the recommendation of your vet or the ASPCA and you have made certain that your pet is breathing normally, is not depressed or overly anxious, and is fully conscious.
To attempt to induce vomiting, give your pet 1 teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide for every 10 pounds of body weight. You should give the dose and then begin transporting your pet to the veterinary office, bringing towels and blankets to protect your car – your pet should vomit within about 15 minutes. If vomiting does not occur, you can repeat the dosage once, ideally while in transit to the veterinary hospital, but if your pet does not vomit, your veterinarian will have other medications to try to induce vomiting, or, if necessary – pump her stomach.
Note: Hydrogen peroxide does not work on a cat’s stomach so your cat will need to be transported to a veterinary facility for treatment.
In either case with a cat or dog, even if you have gotten the suspected substance back up or if your pet seems fine – you are still getting veterinary care as soon as possible.
Preventing accidents is your best course of action and this includes being able to tell what is normal for your pet so that when things become abnormal, you can take action. Knowing what to do in an emergency situation can reduce your chances of panic or stress grabbing hold – the more you panic the more amped-up your pet will get, which increases their heart rate and therefore – the toxin pumping through their body. Always be prepared for an emergency, for poisonings, there are three pieces of information you should definitely have on hand at all times.
- Your regular veterinarian’s phone number
- The poison control hotline number
- The location of the closest ER vet
Did you write them down yet?