5 steps to take, if a pet is poisoned

Accidental poisons can be perilous for pets.

Curious pets can find potential poisons and face serious illness or even death as a result. A dog or cat may stumble onto some toxic substance, which has likely been unintentionally left within the animal’s reach. In a moment, the pet may consume or even simply roll in the poisonous matter and become very ill without warning.

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Common pet poisons include alcoholic beverages, antifreeze, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, chocolate, cosmetics, fertilizers, garlic, grapes, household cleaners, medications (human or veterinary), onions, perfumes, and pesticides. Certain house plants, garden flowers, and other vegetation can also be lethal for pets.

Adapted by this user from public domain photo.

What ought a pet owner to do, if pet poisoning is suspected?

A few common-sense steps are in order.

1. Don’t panic.

This is critical. Seeing a pet in distress can be remarkably unsettling, but it’s essential to keep a clear head to save the animal.

2. Eliminate the toxic substance.

Immediately, the pet must be removed from the vicinity of the possible poison. If possible, it’s important to check the animal’s mouth and pull out any remaining bits of whatever he or she consumed.

3. Check the pet’s health and behavior.

Certain symptoms are common with pet poisoning. These may include accelerated heart rate, coughing blood, diarrhea, dizziness, energy loss, excessive drooling, excessive thirst, loss of appetite, loss of coordination, mouth sores, pale gums, panting, seizures, tremors, vomiting (especially bloody), and more.

4. Call a veterinarian immediately.

Causing a pet to vomit in the hopes of expelling the poison is not always smart or safe. The best bet is to contact a veterinary professional immediately. The vet will likely want to know which of the telltale symptoms have been already displayed.

If possible, it can be extremely helpful to have a sample of the poison the pet seems to have eaten. Saving the bottle or product packaging is ideal, if the substance had one.

If a veterinarian is not available, it’s possible to call a pet helpline like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Helpline (1-800-213-6680). Both of these generally charge consultation fees.

5. Follow the veterinarian’s instructions exactly.

Pet poisoning treatments vary. Some require hospitalization, while others may be treated at home. Different toxins are addressed in diverse ways, such as administering antacids, dosing with activated charcoal, hydrating orally or intravenously, inducing vomiting, oxygen support, and stomach pumping.

How can pet poisoning be prevented?

The best way to minimize the possibility of a pet’s poisoning is to remove all potentially hazardous substances from the animal’s reach. If the cat or dog or other pet is unable to come into contact with a toxin, he or she is unlikely to face a risk from it.


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