Discovering your pet, whether dog or cat, with something that you think may be toxic can be a terrifying moment. Knowing what to do in the event of possible pet poisoning is a must. Toxins don't necessarily need to be ingested to pose an issue – skin, nose, or eye exposure can also result in problems. The following guide can help you through the emergency.
Know the Toxins
Generally, anything that is toxic for humans is also most likely going to be toxic for your pet. This means cleaning supplies, fertilizers, and car fluids. There are also specific items that can be dangerous to animals but safe for humans, like chocolate.
Learn the Signs of Poisoning
The signs of poisoning can include seizures, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, or eye or skin irritation.
Treat skin irritation promptly
You should begin treatment for skin-related toxins immediately. If an item is a skin irritant, this is usually listed on the container along with instructions of what to do if a human is exposed to it. As long as nothing further is ingested for treatment, these instructions are usually also suitable for pets. This may include washing the affected area with soap and water or flushing the eyes with water.
Call Poison Control
The standard poison control number you know for human ailments isn't likely to help with a pet poisoning emergency. Instead, you will need to either call a vet or an animal poison hotline. The ASPCA operates one such line, but be aware that there may be a fee for calling. Generally, it is a better idea to have the number of an emergency vet or animal hospital in your area on hand at all times. When calling the vet or poison control, have the following information ready:
Species and breed
Substance or poison suspected
Poison packaging, if possible
If your pet is having seizures or losing consciousness, you will need to devise a method for safe transportation. It is usually best to avoid restraints during seizures, since this can lead to broken bones. You can try to place your pet in a pet carrier – most can have the top part removed so you can lift your pet inside. Another option is to use a sturdy box or laundry basket. Be cautious with any padding, since this can pose a suffocation hazard if you don't have a second person in the car to monitor your pet as you drive to the animal hospital.
Hopefully you will never have to deal with a poisoned pet, but knowing what to do can help save their life if it does occur. For more information on how to prepare for possible poisoning, contact a local veterinary clinic or animal hospital.