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What should I do if I suspect a poisoning in my pet?

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Paula the Calico Cat by GenGlo on Flickr

Paula the Calico Cat

by GenGlo on Flickr
Question: What should I do if I suspect a poisoning in my pet?
Poisons can be eaten, absorbed through the skin, and inhaled. Poisonings can mimic many things. Some poisons act immediately, some take days to appear, which can make diagnosis difficult. If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned, time is of the essence! Please call your veterinarian immediately to avoid further injury/damage to your pet.
Answer: Call your veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic immediately. Have the following information ready:
  • Exact name of toxin ingested, inhaled, or absorbed
  • Approximately how much of the toxin was ingested
  • How long ago you suspect that your pet may have been poisoned
  • Approximate weight of your pet
  • What signs your pet is showing -- vomiting, tremors, salivation, etc., and general observations -- such as color of the gums (capillary refill time), respiratory rate, heart rate, and if possible, body temperature
If the poison is known, take the box or package with you. Do NOT induce vomiting without consulting your veterinarian or Poison Control center first. Some toxins are caustic, and vomiting will only increase damage. Some toxins need to be neutralized with activated charcoal, others need to be expelled by vomiting, and still others have antidotes. Topical toxins need to be rinsed (skin, eye) with copious amounts of water. An excellent resource for emergency poison consultation (in addition to your veterinarian) is your local Poison Control (human), and national hotlines, including Pet Poison Helpline and ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Related Reading:
Top 10 Pet Poison Prevention Tips

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