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What to Do if your Pet Eats Something TOXIC!

"Uh Oh! I think my pet ingested something poisonous - what do I do!"

If you think (or know for certain) that your dog or cat has ingested something toxic or poisonous, here is a step-by-step list of what to do for this situation.

1) Don't Panic!

It may be difficult to keep your cool when you are afraid that your pet has eaten something they shouldn't have. We know it's scary! But panicking and doing things you're not sure you should can make the situation worse or even potentially further harm your pet. Don't do anything until you've been advised by a professional!

2) Call Pet Poison Control (and have your card ready!)

Animal Poison Control (888-426-4435) or Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661)

Pet Poison Control should be your FIRST call to help your pet. "Well, why shouldn't I call my vet first?" The reason we advise to call Pet Poison Control before calling us is because our vets (and any other general practice or emergency veterinarians) are not experts in human medicines that are toxic to pets. They're also not experts in phytotoxicology (poisonous plants) or in household chemicals. The experts in this area are the 24/7 staff members at the pet poison helplines!

To prevent any delay in care, we advise you call the hotline BEFORE you bring your pet in. The hotline will formulate a treatment plan and case number to reference that'll help us provide the appropriate care for your pet. If you call us first to let us know you are bringing in your pet that ate something poisonous, we're still going to instruct you to call the Pet Poison Helpline before you come. If you're already on the way with a poisoned pet, still call the hotline and have your case number ready for us for when you arrive! Save yourself (and your pet) valuable time by calling the Pet Poison line FIRST, and then calling us. This helps to ensure care is not delayed since, depending on the toxin, we might have to call the hotline ourselves, too, for proper guidance for treatment.

Now, please be aware that both of these hotlines do a charge a consultation fee for their services! You may be eligible to waive the consultation fee if your pet is microchipped (and depending on which company your pet's microchip is registered with. Not all microchip companies have partnerships with pet poison hotlines). "Can I just skip paying the fee and go straight to a vet clinic instead?" You certainly can, but we still advise to call the helpline first (or at least, while you're on the way to clinic). If your pet ingested something super serious like human medicine or a very dangerous chemical, we will still have to call pet poison control ourselves to work with those veterinarians to create a treatment plan for your pet. You might also end up paying more in the long-run to offset the costs of the clinic calling the hotline in your place.

3) Have your pet's information ready!

The hotline will ask a series of questions about your pet: breed, age, weight, and health history. Make sure to have this information on hand so the hotline can accurately create the best treatment plan for your pet. The hotline might tell an owner to induce vomiting at home for a 20 lb Beagle that ingested a bar of chocolate. However, for a 20 lb Pug, they might recommend taking him to the vet to induce vomiting due to his breed being prone to having health and breathing issues.

4) Have information about the toxin ready!

Gather as much information as you possibly can about the toxin ingested. Have the product (plant, pill bottle, chemical bottle, chocolate wrapper, etc.) on hand to answer questions about it, and bring it with you to the vet clinic if you are needing to make a trip there.

What toxin was it? How much was eaten? When was it eaten?

If it was human medicine, what strength was it? How many milligrams were the pills? How many pills did your pet eat?

If it was a plant, how much of the plant did they eat? How long ago did they eat it? What part of the plant did they eat? (Leaf, bulb, stem, root, etc.)

If it was a poisonous chemical that contaminated your pet's skin, what chemical was it? When did your pet touch it? How long was the chemical on their fur/skin?

It's OK if you don't know the answers to all of their questions ("I don't know how many pills he ate!" "I'm not sure how long ago he drank that!"), but just do your best to provide as much accurate information as possible.

5) Record your case number and call back number!

...and follow the hotline's next steps! If you can treat at home, break open your Pet First Aid kit (if you don't have one, or need to add to your existing Pet First Aid kit, visit our Amazon storefront for a list of products we recommend to treat minor injuries and manageable urgent situations at home) and follow the steps given to you by the hotline. Make sure to write down your case number and call-back number if you need to call back for further clarification or other concerns. The follow-up phone calls are free as the cost is included in the initial consultation fee you paid. Have your case number ready to reference during any follow-up calls so you're not charged again!

If your pet ingested something that was immediately life-threatening and you were advised to go to your nearest vet clinic or ER, then make sure you still have your case number and call-back number just in case the veterinarians need to follow up with the hotline. Don't forget to bring whatever chemical, pill bottle, food, or product your pet ingested with you to the clinic, too! Keep calm as best you can and let the vet team do their job when you arrive.

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