By Kathleen Rodgers
Many pet poisonings can be avoided through diligence, but sometimes accidents just happen. What do you do if you suspect that your cat or dog has ingested a poisonous substance? This is a question that is frequently asked by pet parents to their pet sitters.
Several pet poison control hotlines exist to help you with a poisoning emergency. These hotlines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help pet parents like you. The two most popular hotlines are the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Because pet poison control centers do not receive public funds to help finance their services, both hotlines charge a small fee per incident. The fees listed in this article are current at the time of writing.
Pet Poison Helpline – 855-764-7661 – http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com. A $49 fee per incidence will be charged to your credit card; this fee includes any follow-up consultations. The Helpline is staffed by veterinary specialists in internal medicine, emergency critical care, and veterinary toxicology, who can also assist in the treatment of avian, small mammals, large animal and exotic species. The Helpline serves the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Pet Poison Helpline is part of SafetyCall International, PLLC, the world’s largest industry poison control center.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) – 888-426-4435 – http://aspcapro.org/animal-poison-control-center. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center includes a full staff of veterinarians, including board-certified toxicologists, certified veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants, and is an Allied Agency of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.
The most easily-prevented poisoning in cats and dogs is houseplant poisoning. Both dogs and cats are likely to chew on any plant they can reach. The ASPCA has compiled a comprehensive list of toxic plants – http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants – which includes plant photos, making it easy to identify potential hazards. By using this resource, you can quickly pet-proof your houseplant collection and make your home a safer place for your beloved pet.
As a Washington, DC pet sitter, I want to encourage you to sit down in the next 24 hours and create a quick action plan – just in case something happens.
1. Select one of the Centers and place their number in a prominent location and with your other emergency numbers. Also, program the number into your phone.
2. Create or refresh your pet first aid kit – both in your house and in your car. Don’t give your pet anything unless instructed by the vet or the Center staff.
3. Have your carrier in an easy location to access if you need to head to the vet. Minutes count.
4. Map out several routes to both your regular vet as well as a 24-hour vet.
5. If your pet may have been poisoned, make sure to take any pill bottles or samples of what they consumed, so you might want to keep a little baggie with your supplies to hold the items.
6. Don’t forget to share this plan with your pet sitter and any overnight pet sitters.
Quick action may save your pet’s life.