How to Help a Poisoned Pet

If your pet becomes poisoned, don’t panic.  Appropriate, prompt and decisive action is vital to your pet’s outcome.  We’re here to help to give you tips that could save your pet’s life. 


Step 1: Evaluate

Try to identify what toxin caused the issue.  Find the label, quantity ingested or exposed to, active ingredients, and estimate how long since the initial incident.  Remove any additional toxins and evaluate your pet’s symptoms.  Even if your pet is acting relatively normal, it does not mean that they weren’t exposed to a toxin or that they won’t start showing symptoms eventually. 

Many toxins don’t have immediate effects. Try to be hyper-aware of anything out of the ordinary.


Step 2: Call the Pet Poison Helpline

Once you have evaluated all the information you can find on the situation, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680.  They can tell you based on the information you give them if the exposure is serious and if any additional treatment is necessary and provide detailed instructions on what to do.  For ingested toxins, induction of vomiting is common, but in the case of more dangerous ingested toxins such as batteries, hydrocarbons, or corrosives, vomiting will most likely not be the answer.  They will walk you through your specific case and answer any questions you have. Contact toxins are traditionally handled with a bath using dish soap to break down the toxins.  Again, the helpline will discuss with you all the options available.


Step 3: Do NOT Give Anything Unless Instructed by a Vet or the Hotline

It’s common as a pet owner to want to help right away with remedies you’ve heard of before such as milk, aspirin, salt, or hydrogen peroxide. When dealing with toxins, combining something foreign without a specialist guiding you can cause extreme adverse reactions.  (Think in school when you did that volcano experiment, but it’s potentially more dangerous because it’s dealing with less benign ingredients.  Ouch!) Stay calm and resist the urge to give anything to your pet unless specifically instructed by a vet.


Step 4: Get Help!

If further treatment is required, take your pet to the nearest vet or veterinary emergency hospital.  Take someone with you to watch your pet while you drive in order to keep your pet calm and prevent distraction for you.  Certain toxins may require special guidelines to keep you and your friend safe too while you’re on your way. 

How do you know if your pet is even poisoned? Some poisons are more obvious than others.  A good rule of thumb is that if it would irritate you or hurt you, it most likely will hurt your pet. Things like undiluted bleach, paint, and chemicals are all fairly obvious hazards.  Others are harder to pinpoint their origins- such as ingested drugs or chemicals, inhaled substances, or poison traps for pests.

There are many chemicals, airborne substances, drugs, plants and materials that are poisonous to animals in the modern world.  If you see your pet in obvious discomfort, agitation, or pain, then it must be investigated.  Common symptoms of poisoning include but is not limited to Disorientation, restlessness, staggering, depression, vomiting, convulsions, lethargy, twitching, loss of appetite, dilated pupils, diarrhea, heart palpitations, coma, ulcers, frothing at the mouth.


Preventative measures are the best way to ensure your pet’s safety and are fairly easy to do.  Here are some ideas on poison prevention:

A)    Keep your pet away from work areas that contaminants are commonly used

B)    Keep all chemicals safely contained and stored out of reach of any inquisitive paws or noses.  Use baby-proofing measures for extra smart pets that can open cabinets and doors.

C)    Do not keep poisonous plants in or around your home that can be accessed by your pet and watch them carefully when they are outside. 

D)    If you use pest control chemicals, follow the instructions very carefully and make sure that your pets can NOT reach the treated area(s). Remove pets from home if needed for the duration of the treatment until safe to bring them in. (They’ll enjoy the walk or play date at the dog park anyway!) This rule also applies to animal-specific insecticides such as flea and tick medicine.

E)    Keep all human medications stored away from pet reach in a secure location.  Label them carefully and try to keep count of how many are in each container.  Just in case of an incident this information will prove very useful.

Most importantly, stay calm.  A rash decision could be deadly for your furry friend, so take preventative measures, call the hotline in case of a problem and take to the vet immediately. Your companion will be depending on you!



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