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Pet Poison Helpline iPhone App Review

Poison Information at Your Fingertips

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Pet Poison Helpline iPhone app

Pet Poison Helpline iPhone app

Pet Poison Helpline, a service for veterinarians and pet owners, has released an iPhone app that contains an extensive database of poisons found around the home and yard.

Find information about drugs, foods, chemicals and plants and trees poisonous to pets quickly and easily, by alphabetical listing or searching common names. This app also has tips for what do to after potential toxin exposure and a readily accessible "call now" button to get veterinary assistance as soon as possible.

I have collaborated with veterinarians Justine A. Lee DVM DACVEC and Ahna Brutlag DVM from Pet Poison Helpline many times over the years, covering a variety of topics on common household poisons and foods potentially toxic to pets. Their collective knowledge about veterinary toxicology is extensive and I am always impressed by their quick responsiveness to queries about pet poisons.

A Closer Look

I am happy to have an always-accessible (no Internet needed) pet poison database at my fingertips. At the current price of 0.99 (April 2012), it is a bargain that can't be beat.

I did several types of searches to test out this app. First, the "obvious" toxins, such as chocolate and grapes. Quick and easy. I especially liked the yellow banner at the top of every entry that lets the viewer know how much of a potential emergency the toxin might be. For chocolate, it was "generally mild to severe," for grapes, it is "generally moderate to severe."

Then I searched "gum." The artificial sweeter xylitol, toxic to pets and found in so many sugarless chewing gums, is sometimes hard to remember or spell and I wanted to see what would come up with the simple term "gum." This search yielded two results: sugarless gum and nicotine gum. Nicotine is also a danger to pets. Nice.

The search is powerful, and I liked the helpful indexing and cross-referencing when searching for common and more obscure poisons.

As I scanned over the list, a common item in homes with young children caught my eye: homemade play dough. The yellow banner at the top of the screen warns "generally moderate to severe, life-threatening." Salt poisoning is the risk, and homemade play dough is toxic to both cats and dogs. There are many possible symptoms and veterinary treatment is essential. I've witnessed the mess kids can make playing with homemade play dough - good reason to clean up thoroughly.

What This App Is... And Isn't

The descriptions of symptoms, toxin properties, and photo identification* of each toxin is extensive. This app is a useful guide for learning more about preventing poisoning and what to do if you expect exposure. At the bottom of the screen, viewers will find helpful tabs with general instructions on what to do after an exposure, about Pet Poison Helpline - who they are and what they do, and how to contact them for poison advice.

* = clicking on the up/down arrows to the right of each photo expands it to full screen for easy identification of the toxin, drug, or plant.

For those looking for in-depth "how to" treatment options and antidotes, this app is not a treatment guide. This is not a drawback in the app, just a fact and one I agree with. Self-treating could be dangerous, even if the toxin exposure is known. Seeking out professional veterinary advice is warranted to provide the best care and outcome. For example, for some toxins, making the patient vomit is indicated to rid the body of the toxin. For other toxins, vomiting is not warranted, and may actually induce further harm to the animal.

I like that Pet Poison Helpline is available to both pet owners and veterinarians. For pet owners, PPH offers emergency/triage advice to help get your pet safely to your veterinarian (and anything you can do to stabilize the situation). For veterinarians, they offer full case consultation and follow up.

The Nit Picky

I found this app to be intuitive and easy-to-use from the very first time. The indexing and cross-referencing of common and scientific or medical names made searching a breeze. I also appreciated the full color photographs of every item in the 250+ toxin database.

One thing I found somewhat annoying was when I tapped the search bar and started typing, a screen overlay appeared, and it was 'working,' but I couldn't see what I was typing for a second or two. This caused a few typos. A small annoyance for the overall value of this app.

The Bottom Line

At the current price (0.99 / April 2012), this app is most definitely worth the download. Even scrolling through the alphabetical list is interesting and just might help prevent a pet poisoning through increased awareness. Pick up the play dough!

I purchased this app to review.
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